Tuesday, January 4, 2011
During migration and while in calving areas, gray whales eat very little, although they occasionally will eat shrimp-like mysids or small fish at the surface. The blubber they add during the summer feedings must give them enough energy for the remainder of the year. Whales can go without food for 3, 4 or even 5 months. Recent research at Laguna Ojo de Liebre has shown that there are critters in the muddy bottom which the whales may feed.
During feeding, the gray whale appears to prefer using its right side to scour the bottom and find its food. To feed they gulp mouthfuls of mud from the bottom, then use the whiskery baleen as a filter to drain out the unwanted material. This leaves the amphipods stuck to the baleen inside their mouths. They then use their tongues to loosen the amphipods from the baleen, and swallow.
The gray whale has two blowholes, and between 9 and 14 dorsal nodules on its back, gray whales do not have a back fin. A gray whale spout or blow can reach up to 15 feet, and resembles a heart shape from the front or behind. The natural color of the gray whale is dark gray. Often the skin is discolored from barnacle scars left on the skin.
Whales are mammals. They breath air, have hair (calves have hairs around the front of their heads), are warm blooded, and give birth to live offspring that suckle milk from their mothers. The gray whale is in the sub-order Mysticeti. The Mysticeti whales have baleen instead of teeth. The male gray whale can reach 45 feet, while the female can reach 50 feet and weigh 30 or 35 tons. The largest grey whales have flukes, or tails, that can span up to ten feet.
Gray whales can reach a length of about 40 to 50 feet. Weight about 50,000 to 80,000 pounds. They can live up to 50 years, some 70 years. Just like people, once they reach middle age, they seem to get broader .
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