Whales are usually considered as the largest mammals in the world; even the smallest whale is about 9 feet long and weighs around 300 pounds. Whoa! These species are interesting indeed. To begin with, there are two kinds of whales: baleen and toothed whales.
Baleen whales have a comb-like fringe that is used to filter small prey from a large mouthful of seawater and other materials. They are considered to be the largest species of whale. The other type, toothed whales, as the name suggests, have teeth and prey on other aquatic animals. Gray whales fall in to the former category.
Gray Whale Facts and Information
How do you identify a gray whale?
Gray whales belongs to the baleen family, hence they have baleen or whalebone instead of teeth. This is a distinct feature of the gray whale. They are easily identified due to their characteristic features like gray-white blotchy spots on their skin.
They usually weigh around 36-40 tons and reach a length of about 52-54 feet. They also have whiskers just near their mouth, to sense what is happening around them. They have a layer of fat beneath their skin called blubber, which serves as an energy reservoir and also insulates their body.
Another feature of this species is that they have two blow holes on top of their head, that helps them to breathe even if they remain submerged water. Although most whales have a dorsal fin, the gray whale lacks it, and instead, has forelimbs and a tail fin that facilitates its movement in water.
What does a gray whale's diet consist of?
Gray whales usually are carnivorous and bottom feeders. They sieve the mud of the ocean floor, filter out small crustaceans, plankton, and mollusks and eat them by turning on its right side. The water and mud that was taken in, is then forced out through the baleen, using its extra-large tongue.
The whale does not chew its food, but swallows since it has no teeth. Gray whales, during migration and other times of the year, eat very less. They get their daily supplement of energy from the thick layer of blubber.
How do gray whales communicate with each other?
Did you know that gray whales communicate amongst themselves? Well... apparently they do. They make whistling sounds, grunts and clicks to communicate with each other.
Are gray whales friendly?
Gray whales are fierce and defensive, as far as their behavior is concerned. They were once tagged as devil-fish due to their violent behavior when hunted. Surely, you have guessed that these kinds of whales are not friendly.
How do gray whales reproduce?
The reproduction process of gray whales is supposed to be complex, yet interesting. The female whales reproduce twice in a year. Their breeding behavior is complicated and often involves more than two of them.
When a female gray whale breeds with two or more male gray whales the chances of conception are higher. The newborn gray whale measures 16 feet in length and weighs up to 1500 pounds.
Are we doing anything to protect these rare species?
Just like humans, gray whales are sometimes hunted by killer whales as well. It has been listed as one of the endangered species amongst many others.
Therefore, there is a set quota for hunting these gray whales per year. If these efforts pay off and if the government is successful in conserving these unique species, there are hopes that gray whales would be taken off the endangered list within 5 years.
Other interesting gray whale facts
- Did you know that gray whales live for 50-70 years.
- Baby gray whales drink up to 50-70 gallons of mothers milk per day.
- They have an unusual way of signaling of danger nearby, they thrust their tail-fin out of the water and slap the water's surface!
- The whalebone or baleen was once upon a time used to make ladies corsets.
- Whales cannot sleep for long hours, as they need to be conscious to reach the sea's surface in order to breathe.
As you see, these are plenty of interesting gray whale facts gathered for you. It is definitely interesting and enjoyable to learn about these amazing creatures and enhance our knowledge about them.