~ The Gray Whale ~

Whalers called the Gray whales "devil fish" because of the mothers' ferocity when seperated from their calves. Whale-watchers are still advised not to come between a mother and her calf. Young Gray whales tend to be friendly, coming up along-side boats and sometimes lifting them partly out of the water.

Mature males average a length of 36 to 48 feet in length and females tend to be slightly larger, averaging 38 to 49 feet in length.

Mature Gray whales carry sea lice, barnacles, scars and other marks, while the younger whales are darker than the adults and have no barnacles or sea lice.

Gray whales tend to be active on the surface, spyhopping, breaching, and at times lobtailing and surfing in shallow water.

The Gray whale is a messy eater and is the only whale that is known to feed often in the sand and mud, sucking up benthic amphipods, as well as water, sand, and stones. Most Gray whales feed by rolling onto their right side, although a few do roll to the left.

Each year Gray whales in the eastern North Pacific make the 12,400 mile round trip between Mexico and Alaska. Their swimming speed during migration averages about 1 to 3 mph.

Eastern Pacific Gray whales were nearly extinct in the late 19th century, and although protection has helped to rebuild their populations, they still number only about 20,000 world-wide.

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