www.californiagraywhalecoalition.org

The newborn gray whale is around 15 feet long at birth, weighs around 2000 pounds. The very young calves stay very close to their mothers during the few months of life.  In some cases, another gray whale called an auntie helps the mother during birth.  

 

The auntie may help hold the mother above water.  She may also assist the newborn to the surface for its first breath.  The warmer waters of Mexico help newborns to conserve body heat.

 

They are born lean and relatively blubberless.  The calves nurse for around 6 months, during which time the mother provides up to 50 gallons of milk each day, containing 53% fat. Calves may gain 60 to 70 pounds daily, building up blubber for their trip north.

 

The whales with calves prefer the inner part of the lagoon during the first weeks following the birth.  Then as the baby grows the pair venture into the middle of the lagoon.

 

To gain strength for the 5,000 mile journey, the calves practice swimming against the currents in the lagoons.  It is common to see dozens, even scores of mother baby combos slowly swimming against the incoming or outflowing tide.  

 

This exercise is necessary to prepare the youngster for the coming 5000 mile northward journey. The whales with offspring leave the interior of the lagoons when the calves are strong and can swim without problems.

 

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