Weather and Feeding Patterns Cooperate for Oregon Coast Whale Watching
(Depoe Bay, Oregon) - You couldn't have set up a better marketing image for the Whale Watch Center on the central Oregon coast (above: whale photo courtesy Seaside Aquarium).
On this particular Thursday in early July, a man with heavy duty pro photographic equipment sits perched on the walkway going to the headquarters for the Whale Spoken Here program. His sizable zoom lens is pointed straight out to sea, which causes your eye to follow its direction, believing you’ll see what he’s probably looking at: a whale.
Sure enough – and this is extremely lucky – your eye spots a spout from a gray whale, well within the cove that surrounds Depoe Bay, perhaps only 100 feet from shore.
This is the scene on the central Oregon coast, as calm ocean conditions and whales feeding close to shore are providing some exciting sights for visitors.
So far this month – only a week into July – they’ve spotted 17 whales. Last month a healthy 78 were seen.
A Minke whale was seen about ten days ago in the area, and just in the last day or two a mother and her calf were spotted wandering in Depoe Bay waters and off Lincoln City.
The Minke whale was quite unusual since they’re not often seen on the Oregon coast, and then usually not as close to shore as this one was.
Another especially inviting aspect is the fact the whales are clinging close to the cove-like area of Depoe Bay, which makes for even better viewing.
Conditions altogether have been enormously favorable.
“A lot better than last year at this time,” said one volunteer at the Whale Watch Center.
Personnel there noted they’ve seen at least one everyday this June and so far in July, whereas last year’s conditions were a bit rough. There were some days during last year’s “bummer summer” they spotted no whales at all because of large wave action and small storms.
The gray whales are still showing up with little ones by their sides on their trek northward as well. A sign outside the Whale Watch Center said that if you don’t see whales in front of Depoe Bay, check high vantage points just north and south of town, like Cape Foulweather or Boiler Bay.
All this bodes well for other areas of the coast. Stick to high spots like Ecola Creek State Park in Cannon Beach, the Neahkahnie Overlooks above Manzanita, Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, Cape Perpetua or Cook’s Chasm near Yachats, parts of Newport’s Nye Beach or above Tierra Del Mar.
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