California Gray Whale Feeding

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What is a California Gray WhaleMigrationFeedingWhaling | BehaviorCalving


Unlike most baleen whales, the gray whale must get its food from the sediment on the ocean floor. The amphipods the whales eat can be found there.

The whale’s mouth will fill up with sediment. The amphipods living in the sediment will also enter the mouth. The whale will stay down for 3 to 5 minutes to eat. A trail of dents in the ocean floor is left behind where the whale hit the ground.

The whale has no teeth to chew its food, so must swallow it whole. Instead of teeth, the whale has baleen. The baleen is made up of long fibers much like a broom. The baleen acts as a filter. When the whales mouth is full, it closes forcing the water out. The small animals the whale eats get caught in the baleen. When all the unwanted material has left the mouth, the whale swallows.

The whale must surface to breath. It can only stay underwater for 15 minutes before running out of air. When it reaches the surface it will blow out a breath, creating a spout. Whale Spout



This is an amphipod. Amphipods are tiny shrimp like animals that live in sediment on the ocean floor

Additional references for the Gray Whale

Monterey Bay Whale Watch
Whale Blowing Audio

Original Authors (June 1992)

Lisa Angle – Richard Asplund – Peter Ostrander
California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo, California 93407

Additional Updates and Maintenance

Revised in HTML (January 1995) – Java (July 1995)
Richard Asplund
San Luis Obispo County Office of Education
San Luis Obispo, California 93405

Converted to WordPress (November 2017)
Martin Williams
San Luis Obispo County Office of Education
San Luis Obispo, California 93405