Killer Whales Arrive on Central Oregon Coast - Other Whales Too
(Depoe Bay) – Like clockwork, the Killer Whales have arrived on the central Oregon coast (Orca photo above courtesy Whale Watch Center).
Every year about this time, almost exactly on April 15, they appear off the waters of this area, cruising around looking for the easiest prey to munch on, especially baby whales that are coming up north after being born off the waters of Mexico.
Rick and Peg Leoni, owners of Trollers Lodge, spotted them on Monday, after a series of calls from people down the coast in a kind of spontaneous phone tree, letting their neighbors know the pod was traipsing towards them.
Carole Barkhurst, head of the Depoe Bay Chamber, saw them on Monday as well – a pdd of somewhere around 20. She saw them from her home near Otter Rock, and called the sighting “spectacular.”
“There were two groups of them,” Barkhurst said. “At first it looked like two pods. But it was just one.”
It was a neighbor who pointed there appeared to be only one male, or buck, in the pod – which is somewhat unusual.
“In past years when we've seen them they kind of lollygag around,” Barkhurst said. “These guys – they were going.”
The Whale Watch Center in Depoe Bay said some were spotted in February already, although they weren’t open on Monday to see the pod that came through this week.
A run of spectacular weather and calm waves has allowed these Orcas to be spotted. Storms tend to chase whales farther offshore, and large waves prevent them from being seen. This week has had none of that.
The Orcas tend to show up right around April 15 and then stay for a few weeks. Some years, they’ve even stayed through June.
They will often hang out near the jetties of Yaquina Bay in Newport. Sometimes, they come into the bay, chasing seals and sea lions, if they can’t find baby Gray whales.
One sighting in recent years was of a Killer whale chasing a seal all the way through Yaquina Bay.
The Whale Watch Center's Dave Newton said it is all food related. They are in search of the easiest prey.
To catch sight of these killer whales, just like spotting any whale, Newton suggests patience, and head to a high vantage point. The Newport area has many of these, such as the lighthouse at Yaquina Bay, the Yaquina Head area, Don Davis Memorial Park in Nye Beach, and nearby at Cape Foulweather. The headquarters for the Whale Watch Spoken Here program is in Depoe Bay, at the seawall, and another good spot for seeing them as well.
Thursday’s gorgeous sunny conditions resulted in quite the whale buzz for gray whales. Further south, around Cape Perpetua and Yachats, onlookers gathered to watch numerous whale spouts along this stretch of southern Lincoln County.
Newton said gray whale sightings haven’t been great at the center lately, but he called this run of reports south of Depoe Bay a “good sign.”
Gray whales should be easily spotted along the north coast as well during this run of nice weather – which is expected to last through the weekend, and then come back later in the week after some rain. Head to high vantage points like Cape Meares near Oceanside, Cape Kiwanda at Pacific City, the Neahkahnie overlooks above Manzanita, or Ecola State Park at Cannon Beach.
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