Grey Whale (Eschrichtius robustus)



  • BC: Blue – S3 (2006)
  • COSEWIC: Special Concern / Endangered
  • SARA: Special Concern (2005)
  • Global: Apparently Secure (2016)


Grey whales are solitary, 11-14 meters long, and have no dorsal fin (only a series of bony vertebrae “knuckles” near the tail). They are baleen whales that use suction to take big gulps of water before they push it back out through their baleen. What is left in their mouths are the small marine organisms that they consume as prey. Unlike most baleen whales, grey whales feed on the ocean floor. They strain out small invertebrates from the soft sediment, leaving large, mouth-sized impressions on the ocean floor. During the spring and summer months, grey whales will also feed on herring eggs and larvae in eelgrass beds.


Globally distributed.  The Pacific Coast Feeding Aggregation migrates northward from calving grounds in Mexico, spending their summer and fall seasons scattered across various feeding locations between the coastal waters of California and Alaska.


Has been driven close to extinction in the past due to whaling and other impacts. The current status of grey whales varies greatly by population. In Canadian coastal waters, most grey whales are members of the Eastern North Pacific population, which can be further split into two separate units, the Northern Pacific Migratory population, and the Pacific Coast Feeding Aggregation subpopulation. The former, which migrates from winter calving grounds in Mexico to the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas, has recovered well, and now sits at 20,000 individuals. Although this population is considered relatively stable, between 1998 and 2002 nearly 1/3 of the population was lost due to suspected poor summer feeding conditions.

Galiano Status

Grey whales are occasionally sighted in the Salish Sea around Galiano Island.

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