Oregon Coast Whale Watch Week in Full Swing
(Oregon Coast) - Whale Watch Week started off with glorious weather on the Oregon coast today, going until New Year's Eve – December 31. This brings thousands of visitors to the coastline, hanging out on high vantage points as volunteers help you spot the massive cetaceans on their southward migration. (Photo above of a whale and her calf courtesy Seaside Aquarium).
Gray whales have left their Arctic hangouts and are making their way south to Baja to give birth. This migration route is close to shore, aiding the Whale Spoken Here program in their mission as they stand at nearly 30 spots everyday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
These aren't the only places to engage in whale action, however. Even more inviting: conditions have been called "springlike" out there on the coast right now, and more of that is in store.
The peak of the migration occurs the last week of December or the first two weeks of January.
The winter migration is short and quick – usually only about four weeks – from mid-December to mid-January. The whales are not slowed by having calves in the pod and single-mindedly drive southwards in straight lines a few miles offshore. You can see their spouts, but they are distant.
About 18,000 gray whales will pass by the Oregon coast and another 1,000 or so Humpbacks may be seen.
The Whale Watch Week sites beging with one on the Washington coast at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Ilwaco, Washington.
Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach has one, and about 15 miles south at the Neahkahnie Mountain Historic Marker Turnout on Highway 101, just above Manzanita.
On the Three Capes Tour there is Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint, Cape Lookout State Park (that one requires a 2.5-mile hike to the site at the tip of the Cape), and then several miles south at the top of Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City.
In Lincoln County, you'll find the most sites: Inn at Spanish Head Lobby on 10th floor (Lincoln City), Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint (near Depoe Bay), The Whale Watching Center/in Depoe Bay, Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint (just south of Depoe Bay), Cape Foulweather and the Devil's Punchbowl State Natural Area (both between Newport and Depoe Bay), Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, and Don Davis City Park, also in Newport.
The next one is about a 30-minute drive south, past Yachats, at the Cape Perpetua Interpretive Center and the Cook's Chasm Turnout (directly on the Lincoln County/Lane County line).
About 15 miles south of there is the Sea Lion Caves Turnout – the large Highway 101 turnout south of tunnel, and a bit north of Florence.
On the southern Oregon coast, the Whale Watch sites are Umpqua Lighthouse, near Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, Shore Acres State Park, Face Rock Wayside State Scenic Viewpoint, Battle Rock Wayfinding Point, Port Orford, Cape Ferrelo, Harris Beach State Park, Brookings, Oregon, and the 9th Street Beach, Crescent City, California.
See WhaleSpoken.org for more.
During this time, the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport will host its own whale events. In the Visitor Center, you can view marine mammal skulls and other biofacts, and they will offer a special presentation about whales in the Hennings Auditorium each day at 1:30pm. The Hatfield is open daily from 10 am – 4 pm for this special Whale Watch Week event. Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center
See more updates about Oregon Coast Whales here.
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