Gray Whales

From: Kim Marshall (
Date: Wed Sep 24 2003 - 17:01:04 EDT

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    Dear Kim Marshall, My name is Kristen. I am 10 years old. I love whales very
    much. In school, I am learning about whales. All of the students each got to
    pick a whale to research about, and I picked the gray whale. After we do a
    report about our whale, we will be going on a whale watch to Cape-Cod for
    four days. It sounds so much fun! So if you could, could you please send me
    as much information as possible, on the gray whale. I would really
    appreciate it if you did. Thank you so much.

    Dear Kristen,
    Please visit WhaleNet¹s archived answers for information about gray whales
    at Below is some general information to get you started.


    Evolutionary affiliation:
    Unknown. The oldest fossil is only 150,000 years old. Nothing like it is
    known from before then. It is a highly derived species (large cranium for a
    mysticete, for example) with retained primitive characteristics (large
    sineusoidal flukes and flippers, non descript pigmentation patterns).

    Gray or Grey?
    Common name of the species was "scrag whale" in the Atlantic and until the
    mid 1850s. It had become extinct in the eastern Atlantic about 1000 years
    ago and by the 1830s in the western Atlantic, all before being recognized by
    science. In the 1840s Danish naturalist Daniel Eschricht reviewed a
    subfossil specimen unearthed in Sweden by Liljeborg (which he named Ballena
    robustus). Eschricht believed the species deserved a separate genus and even
    family. John Gray concurred, but before Eschricht could do the work, he
    died, and Gray established the new family and genus in Eschricht's honor.
    Gray's whale remained in academic obscurity until Charles Scammon made a
    study of them and published in his Marine Mammals of the North Pacific.

    The Gray whale has the longest migration of all whales. Humpback whales and
    gray whales also have the most predictable migration patterns traveling
    along coastlines year after year on the same time schedule from the tropics
    in winter to poleward feeding areas in the summer months (N. hemispshere).

    Reference: (Pieter Folkens)

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