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Gray Whales Eschrichtius robustus

Gray whales begin to migrate very close to the Monterey Bay coast-line near shore and even in the Bay.

The whales are heading south from their known feeding grounds off of Alaska traveling to their birthing area off of Mexico. These whales have one of the longest migrations of any land or marine mammal, traveling more than 12,000 miles, streaming predictably by Monterey in November through to May, when they are headed back north for feeding again.

Gray whales tend to swim along at a slow speed coming up to shoot their billowy blow (see picture) into the air and show off their fluke (tail) as they take a dive that usually only lasts for 3-5 minutes. Some of the most spectacular sights to see with Gray whales is when they begin to have interactions with other species such as the dolphins. For some crazy unknown reason the dolphins can set the gray whales into a rolling frenzy and the whales begin to gather in larger and larger groups. Sometimes as many as 10-15 animals in a pod!

What happens next is a mystery but the dolphins seem to harass and surround the whales, riding off of their large heads and buzz (echo Locate) off the huge sensitive whales bodies. In response to these swarming dolphins the whales begin to roll over putting their bellies and chins to the sky and swish their flukes as if to shake the dolphins off of them.

Facts about the Gray Whale:

Lifespan: At least 70 years or more.
Population: Almost 25,000 off the eastern Pacific Ocean
Distribution: Remaining populations of Gray whales are in the north Pacific but the last 100 animals on the far west most likely will go extinct. They are shallow, near shore, and off shore migrating from off of Mexico to the Beaufort, Bering, and Chukchi Sea's.
Diet: Benthic amphipods are the primary diet.
Group Size: 1 - 15
Adults: Adult females are slightly larger than adult males.
Length:  49' (15 m)
Weight:  80,000 lb. (35 kg)
Newborns: Length: 12 - 15' (3.6 - 4.6 m)