Gray whales and blue whales are magnificent oceanic creatures with several differences and similarities. Let us learn more about them.
Gray whales are migratory whales who also happen to be baleen creatures. Blue whales are baleen whales, but they are not considered migratory birds, although they move between summer and winter feeding grounds. Apart from their appearance, there are several differences between the two whale species. Needless to say, there are certain similarities as well.
Often, people have several questions about these two aquatic creatures. Although we may not be able to address all these doubts and concerns, let us carry out a comparative analysis of gray whales and blue whales and answer a few commonly asked questions.
Image credits: “Baby gray whale” by Sam Beebe is marked with CC BY 2.0.
Image Credits: “Antarctic blue whale” by Oregon State University is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.
Are gray whales bigger than blue whales?
Gray whales and blue whales are giant mammals who are characterized by their huge size. Let us learn which one is bigger.
Gray whales are not bigger than blue whales. In fact, you may never find a mammal as big as a blue whale. It is common knowledge that blue whales are touted to be the largest known animal on Earth. Although gray whales are significantly large as well and will tower over other whale species, they are no match for blue whales.
Gray whales are also smaller than some other whale species, such as fin whales (90 feet) but are usually bigger than humpback whales, which measure around 40 to 50 feet.
Can gray whales win in a fight against blue whales?
An interesting aspect about gray whales and blue whales is that both these animals are very powerful. Let us together learn who will win in a fight between the two.
Gray whales cannot win in a fight against blue whales. Given their massive size, blue whales are also powerful animals who can easily defeat most whale species in one-on-one combat. However, gray whales are also quite aggressive and will put up a good fight if they cannot flee the scene. Gray whales also jump in to protect their young calves in danger.
Interestingly enough, gray whales are a very aggressive whale species and also charge toward pods of killer whales if they are threatened by them.
How do you tell gray whales and blue whales apart?
It may be difficult to tell blue whales and gray whales apart since they are similar in size. However, allow us to take you through some basic differences.
You can tell gray whales and blue whales apart by their skin coloration. Blue whales have a distinct pale blue coloring, whereas gray whales have a gray body (as their name suggests) with white markings. In addition, blue whales have long grooves running along their body, whereas gray whales have many scratches and patches of white barnacles.
Of course, there are other points of difference that you can use to tell apart gray whales and blue whales, but their skin coloration remains the most distinguishing factor.
Gray whale vs. blue whales predators
Image Credits: “Killer Whale” by eschipul is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.
Gray whales and blue whales are powerful animals but also have predators. Allow us to tell you more in this regard.
Both gray whales and blue whales fall victim to orcas or killer whales. Not just them, even dolphins, sharks, and seals are vulnerable to attacks by orcas. In turn, gray whales prey on other whale species, small marine creatures, and so do blue whales. Although extremely rare, gray whales may be attacked by great white sharks as well.
Gray whales travel in groups to avoid being attacked by orcas and also charge aggressively toward them if they feel threatened. They also attack orcas to protect their young calves.
Gray whales vs. blue whales diet
Gray whales and blue whales have specific dietary requirements that vary from other whale species. Let us together learn more in this regard.
Blue whales prefer eating krill, but they also consume schooling fish, plankton, and copepods. On the other hand, gray whales are omnivores who are pretty opportunistic feeders and eat quite indiscriminately. They primarily consume mysids and amphipods. In addition, gray whales also eat isopods and cumaceans.
We must mention here that both gray whales and blue whales are baleen creatures, and therefore, their baleen plates act as a sieve to derive food from the water.
Gray whale vs. blue whales appearance
Image Credits: “Baleen Smile, San Ignacio Lagoon Gray Whale Watching 42” by Ryan Harvey is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.
Image Credits: “Blue Whales on the Surface by Dan Shapiro (NOAA)” by pingnews.com is marked with CC PDM 1.0.
Needless to say, gray whales and blue whales differ significantly in terms of appearance. Allow us to tell you more on this topic.
Gray whales are smaller with a grayish-black hue and mottled white spots on their body, whereas blue whales are gigantic with a bluish-gray hue and unique skin markings. Besides, gray whales have tapered heads, whereas blue whales have broad and flat heads.
Needless to say, there are several other points of similarity and dissimilarity between the two whale species. They differ in terms of size and habitat requirements as well.
Gray whale vs. blue whale habitat
Curious to know more about the habitat requirements of gray whales and blue whales? Let us take you through it.
Blue whales are more commonly found in all ocean bodies, except the cold arctic regions, whereas gray whales are usually spotted in regions of shallow coastal waters. This primarily includes the North Pacific Ocean. Gray whales are migratory whales and move around during the feeding season and so do blue whales.
We must mention here that although blue whales move around too, a large number of them stay put in one place throughout the year.
Gray whale vs. blue whale size
As you might already know, gray whales and blue whales differ in terms of height and weight. Allow us to take you into the specifics of their size.
Gray whales are smaller than blue whales. On average, gray whales can grow up to a height of 12 meters, whereas most grown-up blue whales grow anywhere between 20 to 24 meters. In addition, blue whales are heavier, weighing around 200,000 to 300,000 pounds, whereas most gray whales weigh around 70,000 to 90,000 pounds.
Despite the palpable difference between their size and shape, gray whales and blue whales remain ferocious animals who can easily fight other fierce animals of the sea.
Out of the two, gray whales are more commonly found, while the population of blue whales has unfortunately reduced over the years. Today, several steps are being taken by government bodies for the conservation of blue whales as well as other whale species that have fallen victim to overfishing and other commercial activities. Despite numerous efforts, blue whales have become rare to come across. Both gray whales and blue whales contribute significantly towards maintaining the ecological balance of the aquatic system and, therefore, should be protected at all costs.