Title: Taxonomy of the gray whale
Gray whales have mottled gray skin which sometimes seems to look slate-blue or marbled white and its head arches between its blowhole and snout - grey whales have relatively small heads. They don't have a dorsal fin; instead there is a low hump with between 6 and 12 knuckles between the hump and the tail. Their flippers are small and paddle-shaped. Their baleen plates are about 50cm in length. Gray whales have what look like yellow spots on their skin, these are, in fact, small parasitic crustaceans. Many cetaceans are infested with these although not always the same type - some parasites live on only one type of whale. The gray whale is more heavily infested with a greater variety than any other cetacean. They do not seem to harm the whale in any way although when they leave the whale's skin in warmer waters it still shows the scar.
Yankee whalers named the gray whales "devilfish" because they were so protective of their young when approached, often charging or attacking whalers. Today, they are better known for being not only one of the most active of the large whales but also one of the most inquisitive and friendly.
The scientific order Cetacea includes all whales. This large order is further divided into three suborders: the toothed whales or Odontoceti (killer whales, dolphins, porpoises, beluga whales, and sperm whales), the baleen whales or Mysticeti (blue whales, humpback whales, gray whales and right whales), and the Archaeoceti (which are all now extinct).
The word "cetacean" is derived from the Greek word cetus, which means whale.
The term "baleen whale" is another name for the scientific suborder Mysticeti.
The word Mysticeti is derived from the Greek word for moustache, mystax. It may refer to the hairy appearance of the baleen plates, which baleen whales have instead of teeth. Baleen whales have two external blowholes and are larger in size than most toothed whales.
Baleen whales are sometimes referred to as the "great whales."
F. Family-- Eschrichtiidae
This family has one living member, the gray whale. The gray whale has a few throat grooves, short baleen plates, and a small dorsal hump followed by a series of bumps.
Because of their relative size, gray whales are usually at the top of the food chain:
Main danger to whales:
Whalers, who kill whales to sell their meat. Human activities such as pollution. Currently( 2006, both Japan and Norway still pursue whales ( Minke and others) under the guise of scientific whaling. Japan harvests several hundreds from the waters of the Antarctic, and Norway gets theirs from the North Sea.