Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Gray Whale Populations

Two Pacific Ocean populations of the Gray Whale are known to exist: one of not more than 300 individuals whose migratory route is unknown, but presumed to be between the Sea of Okhotsk and southern Korea, and a larger one with a population between 20,000 and 22,000 individuals in the Eastern Pacific travelling between the waters off Alaska and the Baja California.

The Gray Whale was thought to have become extinct in the North Atlantic in the 18th century. Radiocarbon dating of subfossil remains has confirmed this, with whaling the possible cause.

In the fall, the Eastern Pacific, or California, Gray Whale starts a 2–3 month trip south along the west coast of Canada, the United States and Mexico. The animals travel in small groups. The destinations of the whales are the coastal waters of Baja California and the southern Gulf of California, where they breed and the young are born. The breeding behavior is complex and often involves three or more animals. The gestation period is about one year, and females have calves every other year. The calf is born tail first and measures about 15 feet in length. It is believed that the shallow waters in the lagoons there protect the newborn from sharks.

After several weeks, the return trip starts. This round trip of back at an average speed of 1-3 mph, it is believed to be the longest yearly migration of any mammal.

Whale Watching Trips aboard the "Whales Tail"
PO Box 1308, Depoe Bay, Oregon 97341
(541) 765-2545 or (800) 733-8915