Gray Whale- (Eschrichtius robustus)
The most commonly seen whale in Clayoquot Sound, gray whales are 12-14 meters in length and approximately 33 tonnes. You can get a good feel of the size of a grey whale by viewing the skeleton in our office! Gray whales have a mottled grey and white appearance due to large amounts of barnacles, lice and scar tissue from parasites that cover their body.
Every year over 20,000 gray whales make the longest migration of any mammal on Earth, over 32,000 km from Mexico to Alaska and back. Clayoquot Sound is located along this migration route, which allows excellent opportunities to view these whales. As the whales migrate through the sound several summer resident whales move into the shallow bays and feed for the summer. Gray whales are behaviorally unique, as they are the only bottom-feeding baleen whales in the world. After taking several breaths at the surface, the whale dive to the bottom of shallow bays and scoops mouthfuls of mud and sand. Then using their massive tongue to push excess water and sediment through their baleen, trapping worms, clams, ghost shrimp, and other small organisms, the whale swallows whatever is left.
Males can reach up to 45 feet in length and females up to 50 feet, weighing 30 to 35 tons. Tails can span up to 10 feet wide!