Gray whale photo and description of the animal where they migrate, where they live, dimensions and weight

Gray whale is a marine mammalian animal, which belongs to the submarine “mustachioed whales”. In the “Gray Whales” family, this species exists in the singular. Gray whale is also called California. He prefers the places near the shores and usually propagates in shallow water.


The gray whale has a movable head, large pelvic bones, rather large nostrils, a long neck. The belly of a gray whale is smooth, with deep grooves (2-4) near the neck, diverging back from a small angle. The depth of the furrows is 5 centimeters, and in length they reach two meters. Fins located in the chest are fourfingered, wide and short.

The head is compressed on the sides and four times smaller than the body of the whale. A very large mouth with strong and massive jaws is horizontally located horizontally. They are symmetrical and equipped with barely noticeable hairs up to 3 cm long (vibrissas). There are about 250 of them in total.

Whale mustache has yellowish or white plates having a height up to 30 centimeters. Plastic fringe is completely inelastic, thick and rough. Each half of the jaw contains from 130 to 182 plates.

The gray whale has no fin on the back. Instead, there is a small hump, followed by tubercles located one after another towards the tail. These tubercles are from 6 to 14 pieces. The tail is also equipped with bulges of small sizes on each side. The tail fin between the blades has a recess of large depths.

Kit’s body has a gray-brown color with spots of different shades close to gray color. Essented crustaceans are attached to the body of gray whale in large quantities.

Dimensions and weight

Adult gray whales have the following body length:

  • Females 12-15 meters;
  • Males are 11-14.6 meters.
  • The mass of whales lies in the range from 15 to 35 tons. Females in size and mass are larger than males. They weigh from 29 to 34 tons. This is obviously due to the fact that they spend a lot of physical forces on bearing cubs and feeding them.

    Where they live

    Gray whales are currently observed in two herds: in the Chukotsky-California and Okhotsk-Korean regions. The Chukotsky-California herd fills the California Bay in winter, and in the summer lives in the Bering and Chukchi seas. It has 26,000 animals.

    The second herd winters and multiplies near Korea and Southern Japan, and in the summer it migrates in the Sea of ​​Okhotsk near Sakhalin.

    What they eat

    The diet of gray whales is diverse, it contains about 70 different species of animals related to invertebrates among them:

  • bottom fish;
  • small crustaceans;
  • bivalve mollusks;
  • ringworms;
  • planktonic organisms;
  • Bokoplavi;
  • Sipunculids;
  • sponges.
  • An adult whale per day requires 500-1200 kilograms of food. To do this, he has to filter dozens of tons of soil and sand.Garms a gray whale at a small depth (5-100 meters). At the bottom, he lies on the side of the body and sucks at the same time silt, sand and prey. Then he filters objects for food, swallows them, emerges for swallowing air and again goes to the bottom behind a portion of food.

    Whales also feed on various plankton, living in the water thickness.

    Migration of gray whales

    Gray whales are record holders in the distance that they overcome during migrations. Every year they sail more than 20,000 kilometers from the ice of the Arctic to subtropical seas and vice versa.

    The speed with which whales move during migration can be about ten kilometers per hour. Usually for overcoming the migration path, gray whales spend three months. All this period they live due to the fat accumulated in the subcutaneous layer and lose their third part.

    Gray whales float without stopping, but after every three or four minutes, they emerge and produce water fountains. Fountains fords, short and wide.

    Whales sometimes migrate alone, more often in pairs or combined into groups. The maximum number of animals in the group can be up to eighteen individuals. The group is always headed by females who have recently become pregnant.


    The puberty of a gray whale occurs at the age of eight years. At this time, they grow in length about 12 meters. Marriage games and the conception season usually takes place in December-March. The female nurses a cub for almost 13 months. Females give birth to one cub with a frequency of two years.

    The kids who are born weigh about 800 kilograms, and the length of their body can reach 5.5 meters. After birth, the whale is still clumsy and the mother has to push it to the surface of the water to swallow air.

    The period of breastfeeding lasts about seven months. Female milk has a fat content of more than 50%. During feeding the baby, the female gray whales behaves very aggressively. She has a greatly developed maternal instinct, so she can attack the enemy before he reaches the cub.

    By eight months, the baby is growing up, and its length reaches seven meters, and by the age of two years it already has a body length of 9 meters.

    Whales live in lagons for three months. This time is enough for young animals to accumulate subcutaneous fat, necessary for the migration period in the northern waters.


    The main enemy in nature in a gray whale is a killer whale. She usually attacks the cubs of gray whale. Females and adult whales try to close the kids from the predator with their own bodies and sail to the coastal zone of shallow water with algae. There are no longer swims there anymore.

    Protection status

    Okhotsk-Korean population of a gray whale totaled within 3,000 individuals by the beginning of the 20th century. In the middle of the same century, it was considered a disappeared.

    But in the coastal zone of the island of Sakhalin, in the early eighties, 20 animals appeared. Currently, the number of individuals is within 150. This population is assigned the status of “threat of disappearance”.

    The gray whale of this population is included in the lists:

  • International red book;
  • Red book;
  • Red Book of Kamchatka;
  • International Nature Security Union.
  • Limited whale production is allowed on Chukotka. Only the use of manual harpoons is allowed for her, and meat and other material are prohibited for sale.

    To date, the gray whale is the smallest. The international whaling commission since 1946 imposed a ban on the commercial fishing of gray whales.

    Interesting Facts

  • Among the gray whales are “righthanded” and “lefthanded”. This can be determined by the presence of abrasions on their muzzles. Which side of them are more, they dig, getting food for themselves. It turns out “righthanded” much more.
  • Each gray whale has its own individual pattern, just as the patterns on the fingers of a person are individual.
  • Every year, the gray whale swims over a distance of 20,000 kilometers.
  • A gray whale is able to hold out for a long time without a aquatic environment. During the tide, he fits on one side, usually on the right, and enjoys invertebrates living in coastal silt. After the tide occurs, the whale floats freely into the sea.
  • When a gray whale floats during migration, for orientation, he vertically puts his head out of the aquatic environment and examines to determine his location.
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