Sorting Out the Feeding Habits of Gray Whales

Posted: March 6, 2014

By: John Dodge [The Olympian]

Marine mammal researchers have learned over the years that the gray whale spring migration from their breeding grounds in Baja, Calif., is not all black and white. It’s, pardon the expression, several shades of gray.

More than 20,000 of these marine giants start out each year in the late winter and early spring on a 5,000- to 6,800-mile journey to their feeding grounds in the Bering, Beaufort and Chukchi seas. It’s one of the longest mammal migrations worldwide by creatures that reach 50 feet long and can weigh 40 tons. They don’t all make it nonstop or in its entirety for a variety of reasons.

John Calambokidis, an Evergreen State College graduate and one of the founders of Cascadia Research, a well-respected, Olympia-based marine mammal research group, has more than 25 years of experience figuring out what the gray whale migration is all about. Generally, it breaks down into four categories of whales, he explained to me.

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