Oregon Coast Whale Watch Week Starts December 27
Published 12/23/2016 at 4:53 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff
(Oregon Coast) - Once again it will be Winter Whale Watch Week just after the Christmas holiday, starting on December 27 and going until December 31. 24 sites along the coastline participate (as well as one each in California and Washington), where volunteers trained by the Whale Spoken Here program are stationed to help you spot the gray whales as they head south to their birthing waters near Mexico. Volunteers will be there from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each of the five days.
The 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.
Numerous whale watch tours are available on the central coast as well, in the Depoe Bay and Newport areas. These help you get really up close and personal with the giant beauties.
An estimated 18,000 whales make their way past these shores – mostly gray whales but also a few other species. While late December is often the peak of the migration, it doesn't all just happen during Whale Watch Week. Oregon State Parks and Recreation (OPRD) set up the Whale Watch Week during this time because of easier availability for those on Christmas vacation. The peak is is really through much of December and well into January as well.
The big numbers start trailing off around the first or second week of January and then the whales are mostly gone by February – except of the sundry residents that linger around most of the year. Then, the spring migration northward begins in mid to late February.
Whales have been sighted in abundance when the weather has permitted, especially in the last week or two as the migration has picked up. Even in late November they were being seen at a respectable rate.
Luke Parsons, OPRD ranger with the Depoe Bay Whale Watching Center, said the pace is quickening for sightings.
"We've already seen the first migrating gray whales in the past few days and we expect another excellent winter whale watching week,” Parsons said. “Last winter our volunteers helped people see more than 1,600 gray whales plus a pod of orcas and some humpback whales spotted on the central coast. You never know what you're going to see while you're whale watching, but that's half the fun.”
A map of the watch sites is available at whalespoken.org. Camping, including yurts and cabins, is available at state parks along the coast. Go to oregonstateparks.org to check availability and make a reservation. Click here for best Whale Watch Week lodgings on the coast. Where to stay for this event - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour
Whale photos below courtesy Seaside Aquarium
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