Grey whale feeding in the sand of the seabed

Grey whale

Grey whales undertake the longest annual migration of any known mammal, along the coastlines between their summer feeding and winter breeding grounds. Belonging to the baleen whale group, they have plates for filtering marine worms and crustaceans from the ocean floor. Grey whales are split into two separate populations, the eastern North Pacific (American) and the critically endangered western North Pacific (Asian) population. They are the only species in their genus, which in turn, is the only genus in the family.

Did you know?
Much of a grey whale’s body is covered with barnacles and whale lice.

Scientific name: Eschrichtius robustus

Rank: Species

Common names:

  • Devil fish,
  • Gray back,
  • Gray whale,
  • Hard head,
  • Mussel digger,
  • Rip sack


The following habitats are found across the Grey whale distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Population trend: Stable

Year assessed: 2008

Classified by: IUCN 3.1

BBC News about Grey whale

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.