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What do gray whales eat?

Amphipods are a gray whale's favorite food. These tiny shrimp-like animals live in sediment on the ocean floor. Whales also like small creatures called cumaceans and isopods. They eat little mysids, which hide under rocks. Gray whales also gobble plankton, small and microscopic animals floating in the sea. When eating plankton, whales can be seen skim-feeding with their upper jaws above the surface of the ocean.

Gray whales eat very little while on migration. Still, they may find and eat schooling squid, krill, crab larvae, herring eggs, ghost shrimp, and small bait fish such as capelin.

Photo: Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary

This jar of whale food shows how TINY it is! An adult gray whale in the summer feeding grounds eats approximately 2,400 pounds of food a day. It swallows at least 67-77 tons of food during a four- to six-month feast on the Arctic feeding grounds.

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