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Gray Whale - Eschrichtius robustus
Photo by Rich Stallcup

The gray whale is the only large whale that spends most of its life in coastal waters. It is well known for its long annual migration from feeding grounds to calving and breeding grounds, which is approximately a 12,000 mile round trip. Because of its habit of staying relatively close to shore during this long migration, the gray whale is one of the most watched whales by humans. Recognized by their mottled gray color and lack of a dorsal fin, these whales can be seen spy-hopping, and even breaching while they migrate up and down the coast.

Gray Whale
(Eschrichtius robustus)

Found on the Siberian and Alaskan coasts during the summer months and off the coast of Baja California during the winter months.

Primarily coastal inshore

Crustaceans (primarily amphipods), squid, benthic mollusks, and worms


The status of this species is representative of the populations within the waters of this Sanctuary only, not global populations.

Quick Fact
The gray whale is the only baleen whale that feeds on the sea floor where they target bottom dwelling crustaceans, mollusks, and worms.

Learn More
- The National Marine Mammal Laboratory
- Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
- University of Michigan Museum of Zoology