The Mighty Grays: How Big Are Gray Whales?

how big are gray whales

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Gray whales are one of the most fascinating species of whale on our planet.

They make an incredibly long migration each year in order to feed and mate, and have a unique appearance that sets them apart.

But how big are gray whales?

In short, most gray whales are between 42 and 49 feet and weigh around 90,000 pounds.

In this post, we’re going to go through everything you need to know about the size of gray whales, including their weight.

Let’s get into it…

How Big Are Fully Grown Gray Whales?

Fully-grown gray whales are HUGE. Typically they are between 42 (12.8m) and 49 feet (14.9m) and weigh 85,000 – 90,000 pounds or 27,000kg.

Females grow larger than males, which makes them easier to spot when whale watching off the California coast.

These stunning whales typically reach their fully grown size between the age of five to eleven years when they sexually mature.

Although not as large as the blue whale which is an eye-watering 26m in length and weighs roughly 130,000 – 300,000 pounds, the gray whale is the seventh-largest whale species on the planet.

How Big Are Gray Whale Calves?

Newborn gray whale calves are approximately 14 to 16 feet long and weigh roughly 2000 pounds.

Gray whales are mammals, which means calves must nurse on their mother’s milk in order to grow. They nurse between 6 – 8 months and drink around 50 gallons of their mother’s milk every day.

They grow quickly as the milk from their mothers is around 53% fat and extraordinarily rich in vitamins and essentials that the calf needs to grow.

Calves will double their weight in about three months and double their length in about two years.

Gray whale calves need to grow quickly in order to make the migration to the Arctic feeding waters with their mothers.

Mothers will not leave their calves until they are strong enough to make the over 10,000-mile trip.

How Big Is The Biggest Gray Whale?

The largest of gray whales are roughly 49 feet long and way up to 41 tonnes (90,000 pounds).

This is equivalent to the weight of five elephants, making them incredibly large marine mammals.

Although their actual life expectancy is unknown, it’s generally believed that they live somewhere between 50 – 70 years old, although one female was thought to be 75 – 80 years old.

How Much Do Gray Whales Weigh?

Most adult gray whales will weigh around 27,000kg which is around 60,000 pounds.

However, some large gray whales can weigh as much as 36,000kg, which is 80,000 pounds.

Female whales are generally larger and heavier due to sexual selection but also because females reach reproductive age earlier than males.

Not only that, but females provide parental care and feed their calves so they need to be a little bigger in order to do this, whereas males focus solely on growth.

How Big Is A Gray Whale Compared To A Blue Whale?

Although gray whales are gigantic, they are not near the size of the biggest animals to ever roam planet earth, the blue whale.

The blue whale is the largest mammal in existence and can be 26m long and weigh a whopping 300,000 pounds.

The longest blue whale on record is a female that measured at the South Georgia whaling station in South Atlantic (1909) and was an impressive 110 feet long (33m).

Whilst the heaviest blue whale ever recorded was also a female that was hunted in the Southern Ocean, Antarctica in 1947.

The whale weighed a jaw-dropping 418,878 pounds (190 tonnes), which is the equivalent of 2500 people or 30 elephants.

As you can see, the blue whale takes the cake for size and weight when compared to gray whales, but nevertheless, both animals are equally as impressive and unique.

Final Thoughts

So how big are gray whales? Typically between 42 and 49 feet, making them the seventh-largest whale species on the planet.

These whales are massive and amazing to witness in real life. They can be easily identified because they are typically covered in barnacles and have heart-shaped tails.

One of the best places to witness these magnificent whales is off the coast of California during their migration when they make the trip up north to the Arctic waters to feed.

Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two about the size of gray whales in this post.

If you have found it useful, feel free to stick around to learn more about gray whales and other marine wildlife.