Gray Whale

California State Marine Mammal

GrayWhaleBreaching.jpg

Gray whale "showing off"

Gray whale "showing off" in Baja Mexico; photo by Andrew Hall on Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution / share alike).

Gray Whale

California designated the endangered California gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) as the official state marine mammal in 1975. The California gray whale can be seen traveling in small groups along the California coast on their 6,000 to 7,000 mile journey from the western Bering Sea to their mating area in Baja California, and again on the return trip. The California gray whale measures 35 to 50 feet in length and 20 to 40 tons in weight.

Over the past 3 decades, global warming has reduced the polar ice caps and caused drastic changes to the Bering Sea (where gray whales feed). We now know that warmer ocean temperatures mean less food for gray whales, and one-third of them died in 1999 and 2000 because they were starving (according to PBS video below).

California

Images

Size comparison of gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) and average human; image by Chris huh on Wikipedia (use permitted with attribution / share alike).

Gray whale / human size comparison

Videos

Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Adventures "Gray Whale"