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(Eschrichtius gibbosus), a marine mammal of the suborder Odontoceti (toothless whales). Adult gray whales reach a length of 15 m, and newborns about 4.5 m. The whalebone, or plates of baleen, are white and thick and have a coarse fringe; about 180 plates are on each side of the jaw. The dorsal fin is in the form of a low protuberance, behind which are situated several smaller humps. The coloration is gray with numerous light spots, which are scars left by dislodged ectoparasites.
The gray whale inhabits the coastal waters of the northern Pacific Ocean. The Okhotsk-Korea school has been exterminated; the Chukchi-California school winters and reproduces off the coast of California and feeds in the summer in the Chukchi Sea and the Bering Strait. The gray whale feeds predominantly on benthic crustaceans, for example, beach fleas.
After the prohibition of trade in gray whales in 1946, the school increased from several hundred to 11,000 head by 1969. In the USSR, permission to hunt the gray whales is given only to the local Chukchi population.