Gray Whale Pictures

These gray whale pictures will show you what to look for when you go whale watching along the California coast.

Gray whales are the most commonly seen whale, so it pays to learn how to spot them. More than 20,000 gray whales migrate along the California coast from November through March, though stragglers can be seen even later.

These whales make the longest migration of any animal, but sometimes they like to just hang around in areas where the eating is particularly good. (Don't we all?) Since they like to travel in groups (pods), they're not hard to spot. Just look for the "blows" - like a giant water fountain up to 14 feet high.

Gray Whale Breaching

This gray whale is jumping out of the water (breaching).

Gray whale breaching

Photo by Camille Goebel, NMML

Gray Whale's Head Close-Up

Sometimes whales will come up close to whale watching boats, so you could get a close up view like this.

Gray whale head

Photo by Dave Withrow, NMML

Gray Whale Spyhopping

This gray whale is poking its head out of the water to take a look around. This behavior is called "spy-hopping." Whales use their powerful flukes to propel themselves out of the water this way.

Gray whale

Photo by NOAA's Ark Collection

Gray Whale's Blow

Here you see the gray whale's distinctive blow. Notice that the blow is "split" like a V.

Gray whale split blow

Photo by Dave Withrow, NMML

More California Whale Watching Information

Whale Watching in California | California Whale Watching Cruises | Whale Watching on Land | California Whale Facts | California Whale Watching Festivals | More Gray Whale Pictures | Blue Whale Pictures | More Blue Whale Pictures | Humpback Whale Pictures | More Humpback Whale Pictures 

All photos are courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Marine Mammal Laboratory.