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California Gray Whale Whaling

  • What is a California Gray WhaleMigrationFeedingWhaling | BehaviorCalving

    American IndiansWhaling

    People have been killing gray whales for hundreds of years. Different cultures would kill the whales for food and tools. No part of the whale was wasted. The problems started when people began killing whales for profit.

    Before 1857, there were 15 thousand gray whales in the Pacific Ocean. Although, the hunting of whales was legal, the killing of gray whales was not widespread.

    Row BoatScammon

    In 1857, Captain Charles Scammon discovered a lagoon in Baja California where gray whales went to calve. The shallow water of the lagoon made the gray whale easy prey for the whalers. A drastic decline in the gray whale population resulted.

    By 1898, the gray whale population was only 2,000. Fortunately for the gray whale, the demand for whale oil and bone had also gone down. The whalers did not hunt the whale as often and the whale population started to rise.
    In 1925, a new boat was invented that made whaling a lot easier. It was called a factory boat. Look at the year 1946 on the graph.

    Whale Population Chart

    In the early 1940’s, gray whales were close to extinction. In 1946 the International Whaling Commission was formed. The IWC had laws passed that prohibited the killing of gray whales

    Between 1946 and 1983 the whale population grew by 14,000, or 500 per year. By 1983, there were 16,000 whales in the Pacific. By 1992, the population was over 20,000.

    The whale population is still growing today. In time, the population will stop growing. This will happen when the food supply can not feed any more whales.

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

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