Gray whales

From: Phillip J. Clapham (pclapham@whsun1.wh.whoi.edu)
Date: Fri Oct 05 2001 - 20:38:39 EDT


Hi:
.
Your questions about gray whales...
.
Are they related to any other whale other than baleen whales. No - gray
whales are one of the baleen whales. They're in their own grouping which
is not closely related to other baleen whale,s but some people think
they're actually closer to some other baleen species (like the fin whale)
than we currently think.
.
Are they close to extinction? Good question. There are two populations of
gray whales and they're very diffrent. The eastern North Pacific
population (the one you can see off California) is doing very well, with
maybe 26,000 animals. The western North Pacific population, however, is
not. This is found off Korea and Russia and probably has only about a
hundred whales left in it, so actually it's one of the most endangered
populations of whales in the world.
.
There was also a population of gray whales in the North Atlantic as
recently as 300 years ago, but they're now extinct. We don't know why -
maybe they were on their way out from natural causes, or maybe whalers
wiped them out a long, long time ago.
.
Phil Clapham



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