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Black and white illustration of a grey whale on a white background.
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The Oakland Whale Center offered an “Adopt A Gray Whale Calf” program to provide an opportunity for children to learn more about the large ocean mammals that migrate up and down the Pacific coast, between the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska and Baja California, Mexico. For $25, adopters received a photo of a whale calf, an official adoption certificate, quarterly updates, and activity pages. Pacific gray whales were targets of extensive hunting in the 19th and early 20th centuries, causing the species to be nearly extinct by the 1920’s. Thanks to conservation efforts, Pacific gray whales are now a protected species; in 1994, they were removed from the endangered species list.
The Oakland Whale Center was founded by Maxine McCloskey, Ronn Storro-Patterson, Tom Johnson, and other environmentalists concerned with whale issues. During its ten years of operation, the Whale Center was an active presence at meetings of the International Whaling Commission and other international marine mammal organizations. Though now defunct, many of the activities and conservation work carried out by the Oakland Whale Center have been taken on by the Marine Mammal Center of Marin County, California and the International Marine Mammal Project. This includes the Whalebus—a popular outreach program that brings educational programming about whales and marine life to Bay Area school children.