Whale Watching on the Oregon Coast

Whale Watching Center. Depot Bay OR. Photo: KGilb.

Whale Watching Center. Depot Bay OR. Photo: KGilb.

3/25/2012. The whales are coming! From now until June, as many as 18,000 gray whales will make their way up from Baja California to their feeding grounds in Alaska’s Bering Sea. Many will swim close to shore feeding on the tiny mysid shrimp found in Oregon’s kelp beds and other whale delicacies. Others, including mothers and their calves, will rest awhile in our protected coves and inlets. Record numbers have already been seen heading north, so this is the perfect time for whale watchers to head for the Oregon Coast.

To celebrate this annual migration, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has designated March 24-31 as this year’s Whale Watching Week.  Over 200 volunteers will be stationed at 24 prime viewing spots up and down the Oregon Coast.  These volunteers will be on duty from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day, helping visitors spot these gentle giants of the sea.  For a map of locations, please check the Whale Watching Center website.

Tips for Whale Watching:

1. Dress for the weather.  The Oregon Coast can be windy and cool even on a summer day.

2. Bring binoculars and have them ready, but watch for “whale sign” with your eyes.  When you locate a blow, then bring your binoculars up for a closer look.

3. Morning light is better.  When the sun shifts to the west, afternoon light reflects off the water (into your eyes) and can make whale spotting more difficult.

4. Higher elevations (top of a bluff) are usually much better than beaches or jetties to spot a whale.  Though any spot with an ocean view—even a hotel room with a balcony overlooking the sea—may yield surprising results.

5. Learn the diving and feeding habits of the whales, so you’ll know where and how often they may surface.  The Whale Watching Center in Depot Bay is a great source for information about gray whales.  Their motto is “Whale Watching Spoken Here”

Nothing matches the excitement you feel when you catch your first glimpse of a whale swimming in the wild.  Whether it’s that telltale “spout” erupting from the waves or the flip of a massive tail, this is one experience you don’t want to miss!

Special Note:  There are several whale watching charter boats located in harbors up and down the Oregon Coast.  A special treat for those who want to get up close and personal with these incredible creatures. 

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