MARINE MAMMAL SKELETONS | GRAY WHALE CALF | CALIFORNIA SEA LION | SPERM WHALE CALF | HARBOR PORPOISE | NORTHERN ELEPHANT SEAL | PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHIN

 

Gray Whale Calf

Eschrichtius robustus

 

How did this skeleton come to the visitor Center?

  • The identification number for this whale is HMSC04-C1. It was a male calf that was found freshly dead at Driftwood State Park in Seal Rock on January 18, 2004. It measured 14 feet long and was found to have been entangled in rope, with marks on both pectoral insertions and through the mouth. The rope had been cut away and was not found with the whale.
  • The calf was probably aborted, as evidenced by the lack of milk teeth and oil in the upper jaw, which indicates that it was still undergoing fetal development.

Gray Whale Facts

  • Adult Size: 49 feet and 90,000 pounds.
  • Life Span: 55-70 years
  • Feeding Habits: By turning its head to the side, gray whales scoop up sediment from the sea floor and use their baleen to sieve out crustaceans. This strategy is widespread during migration. When plankton is abundant, gray whales will switch to sieving plankton off the surface. They also feed on larvae living on and around bull kelp. They rely heavily on coastal waters.
  • Mating and Offspring: Reproduction is closely synched with annual migration. Mating season is usually in late November to early December. Gestation is approximately 13.5 months. The young are typically born in warmer waters in Mexico. Females, on average, give birth every 1-3 years.
  • Frequency and Abundance on Oregon Coast: Gray whales have two large yearly migrations. From October to early November, gray whales head southward from the Bering and Chukchi Seas in the north to their overwintering lagoons in Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula and the southern Gulf of California before returning north from mid-March to late April. A smaller population of resident gray whales spend their entire summer off the Oregon coast.