It is truly a magnificent experience when one catches a glimpse of the majestic gray whale during the annual gray whale migration. The gray whale is an incredible sight to take in, as these marine mammals can grow up to 50 feet long, weighing as much as 40 tons. These incredible sea mammals make one of the longest migration trips of any known mammal, as they can travel between 10,000 and 12,000 miles, and even up to 14,000 miles in some cases. The gray whale migration trip starts around October of each year, when the whales located near the Eastern Pacific in Alaska leave their feeding location and head towards their mating grounds near the Southern Gulf of California and the Baja Peninsula of Mexico.
Migration of gray whales occurs because the Alaskan waters start to freeze around this time, causing their food supply to seek out warmer waters. Therefore, it is necessary for the whales to also make the trip to warm tropical climates to prevent starvation and isolation. The duration of the entire gray whale migration lasts between two and three months, with the whales traveling at an average speed of about 5 miles per hour.
Those hoping to witness the gray whale at the end of the gray whale migration period should head out on their whale watching excursion between December and April, with the highest concentration of gray whales typically visible between mid February and March. During this time period of the gray whale migration, many can be seen socializing, mating, and even giving birth at the mating grounds.
While most gray whales will begin to migrate back towards Alaskan waters during March, female gray whales that have just given birth may stay behind until mid April and into May as they wait for their young to grow strong enough to make the journey back.