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Whale Watching Week Features over 20,000 Whales Just Off Oregon Coast

Published 12/22/2017 at 4:45 AM PDT - Updated 12/22/2017 at 4:55 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Whale Watching Week Features over 20,000 Whales Off Oregon Coast

(Oregon Coast) – All of the Oregon coast (and one point in both Washington and northern California) will be a part of the Whale Watching Week, starting December 27 and going until December 31. The entire coastline will be checking out some 20,000 gray whales that meander past as they head south from Alaska to birthing waters off the coast of Baja, Mexico. (Photo above courtesy OPRD).

This splendid cetacean display features volunteers from the Whale Watching Spoken Here program, stationed at 24 sites along the Oregon coast (and just north and south of it), helping you to spot the whales. They'll be there from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day, offering tips of spotting whales and facts about the gargantuan beasts.

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Whale guides will point out special behaviors such as spy hopping, breaching, and spouting, as well as discuss whale feeding, courtship, and migration patterns. But most of all they assist you in spotting the giant cetaceans as they pass by here.

Some areas can see as much as 30 a day in that three-hour stretch that includes the whale guides. 2015 saw 1,600 whales total across those 24 sites on that week.

You may also see Orcas and Humpback whales as they journey past the Oregon coast.

Luke Parsons, an Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) ranger with the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay, says one of the goals of the event is to create awareness and compassion for whales and other marine life.

"Whales are a special part of the Oregon coast," said Parsons. "Nearly 20,000 people visit our whale watch sites each winter and are educated by our excellent volunteers. I hope visitors walk away feeling a little more connected to these animals, along with a greater appreciation of our oceans."

It happens every year from December through the middle of January: gray whales swim about 6,000 miles to calving lagoons near the Baja peninsula. The fun does not stop at the end of Whale Watching Week: they're here in fairly large numbers through the middle of January, but some still trickle through for another week or so after that.

By February they're gone, until they start to pop up in early March as they head north again, this time with their babies in tow.

The Whale Watch Week sites begin with one on the Washington coast at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Ilwaco, Washington.

See Best of Oregon Coast Lodging for Whale Watching, Whale Watch Week

Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach has one, and the next is 15 miles south at the Neahkahnie Mountain Historic Marker Turnout on Highway 101, just above Manzanita.

On the Three Capes Tour there is Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint, Cape Lookout State Park (that one requires a 2.5-mile hike to the site at the tip of the Cape), and then several miles south at the top of Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City.

In Lincoln County, you'll find the most sites: Inn at Spanish Head Lobby on 10th floor (Lincoln City), Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint (near Depoe Bay), The Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay, Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint (just south of Depoe Bay), Cape Foulweather and the Devil's Punchbowl State Natural Area (both between Newport and Depoe Bay), Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, and Don Davis City Park, also in Newport.

The next one is about a 30-minute drive south, past Yachats, at the Cape Perpetua Interpretive Center and the Cook's Chasm Turnout (directly on the Lincoln County/Lane County line).

About 15 miles south of there is the Sea Lion Caves Turnout – the large Highway 101 turnout south of tunnel, and a bit north of Florence.

On the southern Oregon coast, the Whale Watch sites are Umpqua Lighthouse, near Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, Shore Acres State Park, Face Rock Wayside State Scenic Viewpoint, Battle Rock Wayfinding Point in Port Orford, Cape Ferrelo, Harris Beach State Park, Brookings, Oregon, and the 9th Street Beach, Crescent City, California. More at - Also see Oregon Coast Whales - Guide to Whale Watching; Whale News

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Photos below courtesy Seaside Aquarium


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