Gray whales have mottled gray backs, a trait shared among several mysticete species. They are often hosts to dense infestations of skin parasites (e.g., barnacles and orange whale lice) that give their skin a rough and patchy appearance. In gray whales, these parasites often cover the entire body, however, in other baleen whales (right whales, Eubalaena australis and humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae), infestations are limited to specific areas of the body. Gray whale calves weigh between 500 kg and 600 kg at birth and are about 4.6 m in length. Adult females are slightly larger than males and are between 11.7 m and 15.2 m. Males are between 11.1 m and 14.3 m in length. Gray whales can weigh as much as 36,000 kg.
Unlike humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), with which they are commonly confused, gray whales do not have dorsal fins. Rather, they have a large hump at the anterior end of the tail stock, followed by 7 to 15 knobs or knuckles of decreasing size. Gray whales have small, paddle-shaped flippers, compared to the large white flippers of humpback whales. The caudal fin has 2 wide, gray flukes separated by a deep notch. Their upper jaw extends past the lower jaw, and they have 2 to 5 throat pleats, which allow the mouth and throat to expand while feeding. Adults have 130 to 180 cream-colored baleen plates that are 5 to 25 cm in length.
Range mass: 36000 (high) kg.
Range length: 11.1 to 15.2 m.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: female larger