Information About Gray Whales in Los Angeles

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Southern California Gray Whale Description

The Gray Whale is often found off the coast of Southern California is a dark slate and gray in color and is covered in gray and white patterns. The Gray Whale is characterized by scars all over the body caused by parasites which are shed off in cold water feeding grounds. There are several methods of identifying these whales but the most common is by matching photographs of their dorsal surface and matching the scars and patches caused by the parasites. When the parasites fall off, they often take with them pieces of the Gray Whale’s skin leaving scar tissue.

With regard to the size, Gray Whales are fairly large but are not the largest type of whale in Southern California. At birth, Gray Whales can measure from 16 ft (4.9 m) long. Upon maturity, Gray Whales can measure up to 45 ft (14 m) long and can be up to 40 tons. Typically, adult females tend to be slightly larger in size than male Gray Whales. They have two nostrils on top of their head, which can create a distinctive V-shaped blow at the surface in calm wind conditions.

It is well known that they Gray Whale are similar from a physical characteristic standpoint as many of the baleen whales; there are some very notable differences which distinguish the Gray Whale from other Masticates. First is the coloration. The baleen of Gray Whales is often described as a cream color and is much shorter than other baleen whales. Additionally, there are unusual differences in the jaw or the upper jaw as there are small depressions which contain a lone and stiff hair. Another difference is that the Gray Whale does not contain a dorsal fin at all. Instead the Gray Whale contains something akin to “dorsal knuckles.” These dorsal knuckles are described as 6 to 12 raised bumps in the middle rear of the animal. The Gray Whale’s tail can measure up to 10–12 ft (3.7 m) across when it is mature and is deeply notched toward the center while tapered at the edges to a point. You can see these majestic Gray Whales and many others, when in season, in Long Beach, California at the experts at Los Angles Whale Watching.

Southern California Gray Whale Population

Today, there are two populations or groups of Gray Whales known to exist. The first numbers about 160 individual whales and is thought to live and migrate between the Sea of Okhotsk and Southern Korea. The other population of Gray Whales is much larger numbering about 20,000 to 22,000. This group primarily exists in the eastern Pacific and travels between Alaska and Baja California. The population of Gray Whales has greatly diminished from previous years. According to one study in 2007 by S. Elisabeth Alter, who used a genetic approach, the population of Gray Whales used to be approximately 76,000 to 118,000 in the not too distant past. This is very significant as it is a decrease of about 80%.

Southern California Gray Whale Feeding Habits

The Gray Whale as sited off the Coast of California feeds mainly off benthic crustaceans. The Gray whale eats these tasty crustaceans by turning onto its side, usually on the right side, and scooping them up off the sea floor. As mentioned above, the Gray whale is classified as a baleen whale, which means it has a baleen. The baleen acts kind of like a sieve which helps it to capture small sea animals. The Gray Whale primarily feeds in the northern waters during the summer and rides the winter through depending on its fat reserves.

Southern California Blue Whale Migratory Patterns

The route the Gray Whale takes during migration is known to be one of the largest migrations of any mammal. The migration begins in the Bering and Chukchi seas and ends in the Baja, Mexico regions where there are warmer waters. In total, the Gray Whales migrate an incredible 12,500 miles roundtrip! This migration occurs mainly off the coastline. The gray Whale begins its migration journey around October and travels about 120 miles per day. During this time, the Gray Whale pushed south as the ice sheets from the north extend south. By the middle of December, many of the Gray Whales can be found between Monterey and San Diego. By the late part of December, the Gray Whales begin to arrive in Baja, Mexico, just off the coast. Then, by late march, the Gray Whales are back north again, generally from Washington into Canada. To see live Gray whales, contact the Los Angeles Whale Watching experts in Long Beach, California.

Los Angeles Whale Watching conducts whale and dolphin watching cruises seven days a week with tours at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.  It is a good idea to arrive early as these cruises do fill up quickly.  Tours usually last from two to two and a half hours.  Ticket prices are as follows:

Individual Ticket Prices – Two Hour to 2 ½ Hour Cruise
Adults $35
Seniors (62 and over) $30
Children (11 and under) $25
Children (2 and under) FREE!

Ticket Prices for groups of 25 or more.
Adults $25
Seniors (62 and over) $20
Children (11 and under) $15
Children (2 and under) FREE!

You can order your tickets online by clicking the button, Click Here or calling 424-242-0049.  If you have a discount coupon, please present it at the ticket booth.

We look forward to seeing you and continuing to make Los Angeles Whale Watching your choice for whale watching in southern California.  We offer convenient parking and are located near many area attractions such as The Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach Lighthouse and Queen Mary as well as excellent shopping and restaurant so you can make a day of it.  Whale watching is a wonderful experience regardless of age.  We can’t wait to provide the best whale watching in southern California experience possible.