Gray whale

Once called ‘devil fish’ by whalers due to their fighting behavior when hunted

Merrill Gosho

One of the most striking features of the Gray whale is its lack of a traditional dorsal fin. Instead, this species possesses a series of knuckle-shaped bumps along the dorsal ridge towards the latter third of its back, a feature that distinguishes it from other whale species. Additionally, Gray whales are equipped with two blowholes on top of their head, a trait they share with other baleen whales. These dual blowholes enable the Gray whale to produce a distinctive heart-shaped spout or blow, especially visible on calm days, contributing to the awe and admiration they elicit from whale watchers.

Gray whales undertake one of the longest migratory journeys of any mammal on Earth, a biannual event that has captured the imagination of scientists and the public alike. In the spring and autumn, these whales embark on a monumental journey between their summer feeding grounds in the Arctic’s nutrient-rich waters to the warmer equatorial lagoons off the coast of Mexico, where females give birth to their calves. This migration, covering approximately 10,000 to 12,000 miles round trip, is a testament to their endurance and a crucial aspect of their life cycle, ensuring the safety of the newborns in the protected lagoons away from predators.

Despite their resilience and adaptability, Gray whales face significant challenges due to human activities. The increased risk of entanglement in fishing nets poses a considerable threat, often leading to injury or death. Pollution, including chemical contaminants and plastic debris, affects their health and the ecological integrity of their habitats. Furthermore, collisions with ships in busy maritime corridors can result in fatal outcomes for these gentle giants.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Pacific ocean
2017
Arctic Ocean
2017
Atlantic Ocean
2017
Mediterranean Sea
2017
Okhotsk Sea
2017
Bering Sea
2017
Baltic Sea
2017
Japan Sea
2017
Canada
2017
China
2017
Iceland
2017
Possibly Extinct
Japan
2017
Korea
2017
Possibly Extinct
Mexico
2017
North Korea
2017
Possibly Extinct
Russia
2017
United Kingdom
0
Official estimate
EX
2017
Extinct by 1700s
United States
2017
Vietnam
2017
Presence Uncertain

Anything we've missed?

Help us improve this page by suggesting edits. Glory never dies!

Suggest an edit

Get to know me

Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Group

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No