30 October 2012

The Mother-Calf Bond of Gray Whales

Photo by James Dorsey from Ocean Conservancy

 Populations of gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) are known only from the Northern Pacific and adjacent waters; they became extinct in the Northern Atlantic in the 1700’s. On a global scale, this whale is categorized as ‘of least concern’ by the IUCN Red List. However, the Western Pacific population is listed as Critically Endangered. They migrate up to 6,000 miles with their calves to feed. During migration, predator encounters are inevitable. Where a predator, like the killer whale (Orcinus orca), is present, the strong bond between mother and calf enables the pair to endure attacks (see this video documentation in Monterey Bay, California), a behavior rarely observed in the wild.

Written by:
Patricia Yap
Research Assistant
The SeaLifeBase Project

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