Gray whales occur in the eastern and western north Pacific. Eastern north Pacific gray whales use shallow arctic feeding grounds during the summer, which are located in the Bering and Chukchi Seas. During the fall, they migrate south along the west coast of North America to their winter calving grounds, located in the warm waters off coast of Baja California. Four specific locations have been identified as important calving grounds for eastern gray whales: Laguna Ojo de Liebre, Guerrero Negro, Bahia Magdalena, and Laguna San Ignacio. Eastern gray whales are often seen during migration, off the western shores of the United States and British Colombia. During the return migration in the spring, a small population of about 80 individuals remains in more southerly Canadian waters. Relative to their eastern counterparts, western Pacific gray whales are poorly understood and are often referred to as the Korean, Western Pacific, or Okhotsk Sea stock. Their feeding grounds extend from the Okhotsk Sea, south along the east coast of Russia to the southern tip of south Korea. During the fall, they likely migrate to the South China Sea to give birth to young in sheltered lagoons and bays along the southern Chinese coast. However, this has not been well documented, as fewer studies have focused on this population.
A third north Atlantic gray whale population existed as recently as the 1700's and was described by whalers and colonists in North America, Iceland, Great Britain and Scandinavia. They have since been extirpated from the north Atlantic, likely due to over-hunting by whalers along with other anthropogenic influences (e.g., coastal development in their former calving grounds).
Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); palearctic (Native ); oriental ; arctic ocean (Native ); pacific ocean (Native )