RE: Gray Whales

From: Jennifer Philips (jphilips@hawaii.edu)
Date: Sun Jan 20 2002 - 23:28:24 EST


>I have 4 questions that I can not find answers to in any
books on Gray Whales.
>First is gray whales lose up to ? of their weight during
the annual
>migration? 2 tons, 6 tons, 8 tons or half?

Gray whales spend their summers in northern waters and their
winters in southern waters. They spend most of their
northern waters time feeding, and migrate south to warmer
waters to give birth. Most of the great whales have a
similar migration, and most do not feed during the months
they are not in the northern feeding waters. It is estimated
that whales lose up to 30% of their weight during the
non-feeding months, which includes their migration. Gray
whales are a bit different because they do eat a little
during their migrations. Still, pregnant females giving
birth will lose up to 25% of her weight before she makes it
back up north to the feeding waters.

>Molecular evidence suggests that the closest living
relative of whales is the
>hippo, horse, moose or fish? Seems like it is fish, but
might be a trick
>question.

No, not fish! Whales are mammals, which means they are more
closely related to other mammals. Specifically, they are
related to modern "even-toed ungulates", which includes
animals like antelope, pigs, and, yes, hippos. There is new
evidence that the closest living relative might be the
hippo, but the debate is far from over. I would say that the
safe answer to your question, though, would be hippo.

>Gray whales are gulpers, grazers, skimmers or omnivorous?

Actually, Gray whales are bottom feeders. They glide along
the ocean bottom and filter amphipods from the sediments.
That makes them unique among the great whales.

>Gray whales are found alone, in small groups, in large
groups or all of the
>above? I think it is all of the above, but I am not sure.

All of the above. During migration, they are often found
alone or in small groups, but when they are in their
northern feeding waters or their southern birthing waters,
they group up and can be found in larger groups.



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