Gray Whale

Eschrichtius robustus

Scientific Classification

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Cetartiodactyla
Suborder Mysticeti
Family Eschrichtiidae
Genus Eschrichtius
Species robustus

Gray whales are about 42-49 ft long (12 to 15 m) and can weigh up to 35 tons (32,000 kg)!

They have a lifespan of about 75-80 years!

Gray whales are primarily bottom feeders, consuming a wide range of prey including crabs and shrimps. To forage, they roll over on one side, sucking up sediment and the small creatures that live in it. 

They are found in the coastal waters of the North Pacific, and rarely venture more than 12-18 miles (20-30 km) offshore.

Threats to Gray Whales
Fishing & harvesting of aquatic resources, pollution, anthropogenic (human-created) noise, collisions with boats, etc.

Current Population Trend Stable

Conservation Status
Least Concern

The IUCN Red List tracks the conservation status of organisms around the world. Visit the Red List to learn more about the conservation status of gray whales.

OCS Research Insights

During the migration season, we see mothers and calves foraging together in kelp beds.

Learn more about OCS research
Read the scientific paper

We share data with other researchers to track gray whale migration and abundance off California.

Learn more about OCS research

We have observed gray whales entangled in fishing gear.

How to help distressed marine mammals

Gray Whale Facts

• Gray whales undertake one of the longest migrations known in the animal world – up to 12,000 miles each year! (20,000 km!)

• A gray whale can eat as much as 1.3 tons (1,200 kg) of food per day.

• With 53% fat and 6% protein content, their milk is one of the richest among whales.

• Pods of killer whales sometimes attack gray whale mother and calf pairs during their migration.


Protect whales and dolphins now and for future generations


Here's how you can help

Learn Safe Observation

Learn how to safely observe whales, dolphins and other marine mammals - whether from a boat, surfboard or when kayaking or swimming.

Report Injuries or Harassment

Know who to contact if you encounter marine animals who are injured, in distress, or those being harassed by humans or boats.

Support Marine Research

OCS conducts one of the longest-running investigations on wild dolphins and whales existing worldwide. Learn more about research projects that help ensure the protection of these animals for generations to come.

Share Your Knowledge!

Ocean conservation starts with education. Share this page by copy/pasting its URL into your social media accounts to educate others about the magnificent marine mammals we share our planet with.

whale and dolphin species drawings © Massimo Demma / ICRAM / Muzzio