This large baleen whale has an average length of 12 m (40 ft.) for males and 14 m (45 ft.) for females. The species was very nearly exterminated by whalers in the late 1800s. The grey whale is a migratory, coastal species that lives in the northern Pacific Ocean from Baja, California in Mexico to Japan. During the summer feeding season it even gets into the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait. Its habit of migrating along the coast made it especially vulnerable to early whaling
The population on the Asian side of the Pacific is critically endangered and close to extinction. The population on the North American side of the Pacific enjoys almost full protection (the Russians allow fewer than 200 per year to be taken by indigenous, northern hunters). This population is making a marvelous recovery and is now the focus of much tourist attention.