Grey Whale

Grey Whale
Latin Name

Eschirichtius robustus

Group Name

Marine Mammals

Taxonomy details


Historically, grey whales were found along the continental shelf of the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans. But today they are found only in the North Pacific. It is a coastal species that is seldom seen more than 10 km from shore and usually found in shallow waters, less than 60 metres deep. The population that ranges along the west coast of North America is migratory, breeding in warm-water coastal lagoons in Baja California during the winter, and moving to feeding areas as far north as Alaska, Russia and Canada in the spring. Most of this population passes along the coast of British Columbia.

The main feeding grounds of grey whales are found in the northern Bering Sea, between Alaska and Russia. Grey whales tend to feed exclusively over muddy or sandy bottoms, avoiding heavy ice. In temperate feeding grounds such as along the coast of British Columbia, they also feed over rocky bottoms and in kelp beds.

Species Description

The grey whale's skin colour ranges from dark to light grey with varying degrees of mottling. Its skin also carries patches of barnacles, particularly around the head. It is the only large whale in which the upper jaw extends beyond the lower one. Its body is heavily marked with white scars from parasites. The grey whale has no dorsal fin but it does have a row of humps, called knuckles, located in the lower part of the back. The grey whale is a baleen whale. Baleen whales have long thin plates of keratin-baleen-hanging from their upper jaws in place of teeth.