Lots of Whale Activity on Central Oregon Coast, Including an Orca
(Depoe Bay, Oregon) – It's not a matter of "Thar she blows" on the central Oregon coast right now, but more like "Thar they blow." (Photo of gray whale at Seaside courtesy Seaside Aquarium)
Whale activity is aplenty right about now around the Depoe Bay area, largely due to calm wave conditions that allow you to see them better, but also because there’s plenty of food for them.
The entire village of Depoe Bay has been abuzz about them this past week, as sunny weather simply added to the likelihood of seeing them. Peg and Rick Leoni, owners of Trollers Lodge in Depoe Bay, said several had been meandering close to some of their clifftop vacation rentals, and were seen breaching and spouting with regularity.
Dave Newton with the Whale Watch Center in Depoe Bay said they documented six on Monday (and the center is only open for about six hours of the day). Six were seen Sunday, and a total of 26 have been seen in these six days of June so far.
Even an Orca was spotted earlier on Monday.
“It was a big male Orca, hanging out in the corner for about 20 minutes and then went around South Point,” Newton said.
Even more spectacular was a lot of breaching and spouting. One local woman reported watching a series of breaches and spouts from one whale in particular over the weekend, where the whale would rise up out of the ocean, sometimes showing its tail, and then shoot out a stream of water from its blowhole. This went on for quite a while.
Newton confirmed there had been quite of that show lately.
“We had a calf a week or so ago breaching 12 or 14 times,” he said. “It was with its mom. Another one about a half mile out breached four times. We don’t see whales breaching very often so that was pretty exciting.”
Several have been quite close to shore, which Newton chalks up to luck and whales feeling playful and wanting to check things out.
Newton said many whales tend to exhibit a pattern of three to five blows, then they dive downward if they’re feeding, where they stay for about five to seven minutes until they start the sequence again.
“If they’re going past we’ll get maybe one, two or three spouts at most,” Newton said. “Then they disappear for a while, and a few minutes later we may see them again a few hundred yards down.”
Newton said the migration is essentially coming to an end, and the ones being seen now are those that have the tendency to come back. A couple regulars have been seen – whales with names that sound like gangsta rappers like “Scarback” and “Ice Cap.”
“They leave, go south and come back, but they’re obviously finding food, feeding on Mysid shrimp,” Newton said. “The charter boats say there’s plenty of food for them. We’ve got about a dozen whales five to ten miles in both directions.”
To see whales on the coast it's best to head to a high vantage point, like those just south of Cannon Beach, at Ecola State Park, Neahkahnie Mountain above Manzanita, Cape Meares or Cape Kiwanda, higher cliffs of Lincoln City, various points around Newport, and the rocky shorelines around Yachats.
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