50 Shades of Gray Whale

By Whale Watching Naturalist Nick

Ah, the month of February. With the popularity of Valentine’s Day and cooler weather, love is in the air. For Gray Whales on their migration, the love is also in the water — especially in the lagoons of Baja California. For some, this is the love of a mother for her newborn calf. These mothers are just reaching the end of a year-long pregnancy that is timed perfectly when considering the mating activity of the year prior.

Gray Whales are unique in the animal kingdom in that there is very little direct competition between males of the species. Oftentimes, mating trios are observed, with the odd male out helping to support the amorous couple. Females typically mate with a number of males each season, which undermines the need for direct competition via the courting displays or battles commonly seen in other parts of the animal kingdom. Females sometimes test the determination of a male by rolling and swimming away from his advances, as this may send less fit or less determined suitors on their way.

While most of the calving and mating occurs in the lagoons, we do occasionally get lucky on our whale watching trips and see these events right off of San Diego. Now is a great time to join us for a cruise to try and spot some mother and calf pairs or passionate adults!

Interested in whale watching with us? Learn more.

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Scripps Institution of Oceanography UC San Diego