The gray whale is named for its coloration, which is dark gray overall with lighter areas and markings over much of their body, which are scars caused by parasitic animals. They also frequently have yellowish or orangish patches around their head and tail, which are the result of whale lice and barnacles.
Gray whales grow up to nearly 50 feet in length. They don’t have a dorsal fin, but they do have several ridges along the back half of their upper body near the tail.
As a baleen whale, the gray whale has distinctive structures in its mouth called baleen instead of teeth. Baleen plates form a comb-like structure, which helps to filter tiny organisms out of the water and sediment that the whale ingests. The water and sediment is then passed through the sides of the mouth, while the animals filtered by the baleen are swallowed.