Hello, Baby Whale!
This baby gray whale is just three weeks old. His mother swam nonstop for 55 days to give birth in the best whale nursery she knows, a sheltered lagoon in Mexico. Her long journey south started over 5,000 miles away, in icy waters off Alaska and Siberia. In her 45 years, she has traveled the distance to the moon and back — and she's not done yet!
Holy Cow, What a Calf!
The baby gray whale weighs one ton and is fifteen feet long at birth.
The calf starts life on a diet of milk. Each day he drinks enough
to gain over 60
pounds! The baby gray must get ready to migrate more than 5,000 miles when
only two or three months old.
Moving With the Seasons
As spring approaches, the days grow longer. Hungry whales know it's
time to leave the warm waters of Mexico. They will swim nonstop
northward until they reach the food-filled, icy waters of the Arctic.
Blubber for Energy
Adult whales eat little or nothing during winter
in the nursery lagoons. They don't find much food while migrating
either. A whale's blubber provides the energy the whale needs when
food is scarce. A 30-ton whale may burn up to eight tons of blubber
during the winter months and two migration journeys!
Blubber for Warmth
The thick layer of blubber under the gray whale's skin also works
like a blanket. Blubber keeps warm-blooded whales from losing body
heat as they migrate through
cold water. Blubber insulates them in the icy northern waters of their
feeding grounds too.
Hunger Drives Spring Migration
In the spring, urgent hunger drives gray whales northward. They leave
the warm winter breeding grounds to migrate back to cold summer
Longer days of sunlight bring the
food chain to life. The warmth melts the ice, so the whales can swim freely
to the far north. Soon it will be daylight 24 hours a day!
The Eating Season
It's chow time at last! The huge whales feast all summer long. Tiny,
shrimp-like krill are a big part of their menu. An average krill
is 0.4 to 0.8
to 2 cm) long. It takes a LOT of krill to fill up a gray whale!
Time to Go Again
After a few short months in the Arctic, the seasons are changing
again. Northern days grow shorter. Water temperatures drop. Ice starts to
form. The food
fewer hours of sunlight. Gray whales know what to do. They head for Mexico's
warm waters, thousands of miles to the south. Our baby whale will
make his first
journey south, independent of his mom.
Always on the Move
A gray whale's life is always in motion. Changing seasons
and the need to feed and breed keep whales moving. It's an endless
journey, but each year's story is new. You can join the adventure.
Follow the monumental migration live each spring with Journey North!
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