« Back to News & Events

Blue Whale Vs. Gray Whale- What’s the Difference?

Whales are extremely impressive marine mammals with many characteristics that make them unique amongst others. For more reasons than one, whales leave us in awe, being a part of one the oldest and largest species on this planet. Within this species are the Gray Whale and the Blue Whale, both extraordinary creatures living completely different lives. Read on to learn about the most significant differences between these two whales.

Feeding Habits

The Gray Whale is opportunistic when it feeds, eating from a large of range of foods and areas. However, they prefer to feed on amphipods and mysids, which resemble tiny shrimp.

The Blue Whale prefers to eat krill and copepods for its meals. It is estimated that it takes around 8,000 pounds of food to fill its stomach each day.

Migration Patterns

The Gray Whale travels up to 12,000 miles round trip each year, spending their winter in the warm waters of Southern California and Mexico while moving on to the chilling Arctic seas in the summer.

The Blue Whale has a harder migration pattern to track, despite being one of the largest living mammals. Research has shown that in the winter, they travel to warm, low latitude tropical waters to breed. In the summer, they move on to high latitude polar waters with a colder temperature where there is plenty of krill to eat.

Population

The Gray Whales are very populous, with over 26,000 in existence. Within that large number you will find that 99% of them are eastern North Pacific Gray Whales and 1% being the Western Gray Whale.

Blue Whales, on the other hand, are an extremely endangered species with only 2,800 believed to be left. Sadly, this is why they are one of the rarest whales you can encounter.

Habitat

Gray Whales prefer to stay closer to the coast as they are shallow-water feeders. Most well known populations can be found in the eastern North Pacific.

Blue Whales are globally distributed and prefer to spend their time in deeper ocean waters.

Appearance

The Gray Whale is a deep gray color. Due to barnacles and whale lice, the Gray Whale is patched with lighter white and gray marks. Unlike the Blue Whale, the Gray Whale does not have a dorsal fin.  

While under water, the Blue Whales seem to have a deep blue color to them. However, this changes when they are above sea level, as they appear to have more of a darker blue/grey appearance. Their underbellies are light due to the microorganisms that live upon them.     

Size

The size of the two whales is what distinguishes them the most. The Gray Whale is the seventh largest whale in the species, being around 44-48 ft in length and weighing about 60,000 pounds.

The Blue Whale is the largest mammal in existence. As an adult, they weigh up to 300,000 pounds! They can be up to 100 ft long, with females generally be larger than the males.