Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Species Account/Eschrichtius robustus

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Eschrichtius robustus (Grey Whale)

Where found: Two Pacific Ocean populations of Gray Whales exist: one small population traveling between the Sea of Okhotsk and southern Korea, and a larger one traveling between the waters off Alaska and the Baja California. A third, North Atlantic, population was hunted to extinction 300 years ago. In the fall, the California Gray Whale starts a 2–3 month, 8,000–11,000 km trip south along the west coast of the United States and Mexico. The animals travel in small groups. The destinations of the whales are the coastal waters of Baja California and the southern Gulf of California, where they breed and the young are born.

Description: Gray Whales are covered by characteristic gray-white patterns, scars left by parasites which drop off in the cold feeding grounds. The whale feeds mainly on benthic crustaceans which it eats by turning on its side (usually the right) and scooping up the sediments from the sea floor. It is classified as a baleen whale and has a baleen, or whalebone, which acts like a sieve to capture small sea animals including amphipods taken in along with sand, water and other material. Mostly, the animal feeds in the northern waters during the summer; and opportunistically feeds during its migration trip, depending primarily on its extensive fat reserves.


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