Pelicans and Whales Causing Stir Right Now on Oregon Coast
(Oregon Coast) – There is much to see on the Oregon coast right now, with whales still plentiful and pelican sightings up around the northern beaches. Officials from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) sent out a bulletin about where and when to find them. Photo above: Seaside Aquarium.
It doesn't hurt that great weather is still in store through at least the first half of October – known as the Second Summer.
ODFW said both brown and white pelicans are easily seen this time of year around the lower Columbia River area, which is generally around Astoria and the Warrenton. The most commonly seen of the birds is the brown pelican, which generally hangs out at the mouth of the Columbia.
“A great place to view them is from the South Jetty viewing platform at Ft. Stevens State Park,” ODFW said.
White pelicans are larger and are a bit new on the Oregon coast, spending most of their time above Tongue Point on Miller Sands Island and other nearby ones. The white pelicans have traditionally been associated with far inland areas, but drought, particularly southeastern Oregon, may have encouraged them to nest on the river in recent years.
ODFW said whale sightings are still in high numbers up and down the coast.
Great places for viewing them are high vantage points, like those just south of Cannon Beach, above Manzanita, Cape Meares (near Oceanside), the cliffs of Lincoln City, Cape Foulweather and other higher vantage points near Newport, and the area around Cape Perpetua near Yachats. One of the best spots is around Depoe Bay, which not only has the Whale Watch Center but two other large headlands on either side.
Both Newport and Depoe Bay have many whale watch tour boats as well.
What are the best ways to spot whales?
ODFW said the the blow, or spout, is the most common sign of gray whale activity in the area. When warm, moist air exhaled from the whales’ lungs meets the cool air at the ocean surface, it creates a bushy, V-shaped blow characteristic of gray whales.
This blowing action can reach as high as 15 feet and is visible for about five seconds. You'll want to keep in mind that the whale will dive for three to six minutes, then surface for three to five blows in row, 30 to 50 seconds apart, before diving deep for three to six minutes again.
Those on whale watch tours will get especially awesome views of the gray whales. The tails – or flukes – may become visible as they lunge downward into the water on a deep dive.
ODFW explained some of the science of these huge tails, which can be around 12 feet wide.
“The weight of the tail above the whale's body helps the whale to dive deep,” ODFW said.
Guidelines for watching marine mammals from boat or shore without causing disturbance can be found at this website: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/education/viewing_northwest.pdf.
More About Oregon Coast Whales here.
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