The gray whale is the sole living representative of an entire mammalian family. Its lineage extends back some 30 million years, making it one of the more ancient mammals on earth. Although historically present in both the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans, gray whales now occur only in the North Pacific. Their dramatic seasonal migration along the west coast of North America is an iconic wildlife phenomenon. As such, it provides opportunities for scientific discovery, aesthetic and spiritual enrichment, economic rewards (from tourism in Mexico, the US and Canada) and, very importantly, a source of inspiration for new generations of conservationists.