Gray Whales Spouting and Diving
Gray whales swim by moving their large powerful tail flukes in an up and down motion and may span up to10 feet across, the tail flukes often have scars, scratches or bite marks from orca whale attacks. The normal cruising speed for a gray whale is between 2 to 6 mph but they can show burst of speed up to 10 to 12 mph if threatened by predators. Gray whales will surface and breathe two or three times at 10-20 second intervals before submerging for three to five minutes. When a gray whale goes on a deep dive the whale will usually show its tail flukes or arch its back where you would see its knuckles. Gray whales have no dorsal (back) fins. Instead, they have a low hump and a series of six to twelve knuckles or bumps. The gray whale can stay under water for at about 30 minutes and reappear 1/2 mile or more away unless they are feeding in the area. When whales go below the surface of the water it will leave an oval patch of calm water called a fluke print, this is caused from upwelling from the whale’s tail fluke.
When a gray whale goes on a dive it is usually less than 100 feet mainly because the food that the whale eats is in shallower waters. The gray whale has two blowholes that are oval shaped and during a dive, the valves around the whale’s blowhole close to keep water out. Upon surfacing the gray whales spout is about 10 feet high and, if there is no wind can be seen as a heart shape when observed directly in front or from behind. In a single blow about 100 gallons of air can be expelled, if they exhale slowly the blow is hardly visible.