The Surprisingly Social Gray Whale Journalist Charles Siebert and wildlife biologist Dr. Toni Frohoff explain the uncharacteristically friendly behavior of gray whales off the coast of California.

The Surprisingly Social Gray Whale

The Surprisingly Social Gray Whale

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Journalist Charles Siebert writes about dogs, whales and chimps. His latest book is The Wauchula Woods Accord: Toward a New Understanding of Animals. Bex Brian/Courtesy of Simon & Schuster hide caption

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Bex Brian/Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Journalist Charles Siebert writes about dogs, whales and chimps. His latest book is The Wauchula Woods Accord: Toward a New Understanding of Animals.

Bex Brian/Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Behavioral and wildlife biologist Dr. Toni Frohoff studied gray whales off the coast of California. Courtesy of Yale University Press hide caption

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Courtesy of Yale University Press

Behavioral and wildlife biologist Dr. Toni Frohoff studied gray whales off the coast of California.

Courtesy of Yale University Press

Off the coast of Baja, California, scientists find gray whales are uncharacteristically social with humans, even allowing their faces, mouths and tongues to be massaged as they bump up beside boats.

Journalist Charles Siebert wrote about the phenomena in the July 8 issue of The New York Times Magazine. The article, "Watching Whales Watching Us," explains that relations between humans and the Pacific gray whale have been historically spotty. After being hunted nearly to extinction more than 150 years ago — and again in the 1900s — the gray whale has rebounded in population faster than any other whale species.

Behavioral and wildlife biologist Dr. Toni Frohoff also joins the show. She has studied marine mammal behavior for more than 20 years and is the director and co-founder of TerraMar Research and the Trans-Species Institute of Learning. Frohoff is co-author of the book Dolphin Mysteries: Unlocking the Secrets of Communication.

Siebert's new book, The Wauchula Woods Accord: Toward A New Understanding of Animals, details his encounters with Roger a retired former circus chimp, who lived at the Center for Great Apes in Florida and preferred the company of humans to chimps.