skip to main content

The Gray Whale

3 minutes

(Describer) Under a round logo of a wave, title: Ocean Today.

(Describer) Title: The Gray Whale. A whale points its nose up, just below the ocean's surface.

(female narrator) It is late spring on Kodiak Island, Alaska.

(Describer) Snow-capped mountains loom beyond the water.

The air and the water are growing warmer, and the locals have returned to feed.

(Describer) A brown bear sniffs the shore.

But even against this monumental landscape, all eyes are on the horizon for one of nature's most graceful giants, the gray whale.

(Describer) A tail sinks underwater.

It is here that they begin and end the longest migration of any mammal-- 12,000 miles from the icy waters of the Arctic to the warm lagoons of Baja, Mexico, and back again. Gray whales have a narrow, tapered head and a streamlined body. They surface only for a quick spout and breath before disappearing back into the ocean.

(Describer) Water sprays up.

Instead of teeth, gray whales have baleen, which is like a thick comb made of long, fine hairs. Diving to the muddy bottom, gray whales scoop up sediment from the ocean floor, filtering out water and mud, and trapping plankton and krill. In the 1700s and 1800s, whalers in search of oil, meat, and baleen hunted gray whales to near extinction. In 1946, an international treaty was signed to provide oversight and management of whale hunting. But it was under the protection of the Endangered Species Act in 1974, and NOAA's careful management since, that the Eastern Pacific gray whale recovered to a sustainable population.

(Describer) Two more break the surface.

Today, nearly 24,000 gray whales continue their annual migration along the coast of North America, giving humans a glimpse of these majestic creatures that live in the deep.

(Describer) Viewed underwater, one is dark grey with lighter markings around its mouth. Logos are shown for the Smithsonian and NOAA. Accessibility provided by the US Department of Education.

Accessibility provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

Transcript Options


Now Playing As: Captioned (English) (change)

Report a Problem

It is late spring on Kodiak Island, Alaska, and all eyes are on the horizon for one of nature’s most graceful giants: the gray whale. It is here that they begin and end the longest migration of any mammal. They will travel 12,000 miles from the icy waters of the Arctic to the warm lagoons of Baja, Mexico, and back again. Today, nearly 24,000 gray whales continue their annual migration along the coast of North America giving humans a glimpse of these majestic creatures that live in the deep.

Media Details

Runtime: 3 minutes

Nature
Season 26 / Ep 4
31 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
25 minutes
Grade Level: 4 - 10
Animapaka (Spanish)
Episode 25
14 minutes
Grade Level: 1 - 3
Animapaka (Spanish)
Episode 12
13 minutes
Grade Level: 1 - 3
Animapaka (Spanish)
Episode 9
14 minutes
Grade Level: 1 - 3
Animapaka (Spanish)
Episode 18
14 minutes
Grade Level: 1 - 3
Animapaka (Spanish)
Episode 24
14 minutes
Grade Level: 1 - 3
Animapaka (Spanish)
Episode 26
13 minutes
Grade Level: 1 - 3
Animapaka (Spanish)
Episode 11
14 minutes
Grade Level: 1 - 3
Animapaka (Spanish)
Episode 23
13 minutes
Grade Level: 1 - 3