“We might peer into the future at the generations yet unborn,
And ask ourselves if we're really trustworthy custodians of their heritage.
Do we have the right to tell them that they can never see a whale?”
David R. Brower
The gentle giants of the Pacific are on the move
Their annual Spring migration has recently begun
Having personally gone to the coast to watch them
I can tell you that Giant Watching can be tons of fun
These are extremely fascinating creatures of the sea
Many whale watchers report them to be very friendly
Since they often allow us to touch and observe them
An astounding fact that has always filled me with glee
They spend the winter months in sunny Mexico
Where the females give birth and nurture their young
Each Spring they soon begin their long journey to Alaska
As they travel up the coast their whale songs so joyously sung
Theirs is one of the longest mammal migrations
Still existing on our ancient Mother Earth today
These gentle giants travel over 12,000 miles each year
Following nature’s very simple edict to live love and play
Female gray whales can be 45 feet long
And weigh as much as 70,000 pounds
New born calves weigh in at two tons
One of the largest mammal babies around
These very friendly Gentle Gray Whale Giants
Were almost hunted to complete extinction twice
In 1946 efforts were finally taken to protect them
And the fact they are still with us I find quite nice
©2006, Ed Kostro
The only member of the family Eschrichtiidae, the gray whale is a baleen whale and a bottom feeder. Its back and sides are usually covered with both barnacles and sea lice. And these Gentle Giants migrate along the North American Pacific Coast every year - journeying between icy arctic seas and warm tropical lagoons.
Frequently visible from shore on these annual migrations, gray whales provide a unique opportunity for both land and boat observation, and commercial whale watching has now become a major industry along their ancient migration routes. And their observers sometimes even encounter the marvelous phenomenon of the ‘friendlies’ - gray whales that actually approach small boats of admirers and allow themselves to be touched by we humans.
The first time these gentle giants almost became extinct was in the 1850s. That's when whalers discovered their breeding lagoons down in Mexico; then again at the turn of the 20th century. In 1946, with their numbers severely dwindling, international laws were finally passed to protect them.
These Gray Whales make an extraordinarily long migration from the Arctic ocean to the Baja peninsula off Mexico, and back again each year. They travel about 12,500 miles a year, always staying very near the coastline on their wondrous journeys.
They feed in the cold arctic waters, and mate and calve in the warm protected tropical lagoons off Baja, Mexico.
At one time, there were three gray whale populations on Earth: a north Atlantic population, now extinct, the tragic victims of over-hunting; a Korean or western north Pacific stock that is now extremely depleted, also from over-hunting; and the eastern north Pacific population described above - the largest surviving population of these very intriguing and very gentle Giants of the Sea.
And I, for one, truly hope they remain with us for a very long time to come.