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Good Times for Whale and Wildlife Watchers on Oregon Coast

Published 09/06/2016 at 6:11 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Now is still a great time to sight of whales

(Oregon Coast) – Now is still a great time to catch sight of whales and some truly wild lifeforms along the Oregon coast, according to state officials. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) said whale watching has been great along the entire length of the coastline, while also offering some birding tips with new angles.

ODFW said gray whale sightings have been quite numerous along the southern and central coast areas.

“There were many whales actively feeding very close to shore (less than 100 feet) at a variety of locations over Labor Day weekend,” ODFW said.

Whales are still migrating to summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea, but a sizable summer population lingers around the Depoe Bay area. These so-called “resident” whales can be seen close to shore from the seawall at Depoe Bay, but also in nearby parks and high viewpoints at Boiler Bay, Rocky Creek, Devil's Punchbowl and Newport's Yaquina Head.

While ODFW said there are plenty of recent reports of whales as close as 100 feet to shore in Depoe Bay city limits alone, but they are known to get very close at times in places like Fishing Rock State Park, along Otter Crest Loop Road, Depoe Bay's North Point section, or even Fogarty Beach.

ODFW said the rocks near Otter Crest (along Otter Crest Loop Road and the Punchbowl) have been experiencing a good number of whales feeding close as of late.

“Look for whales as they surface to blow, a spout 6-12 feet high, depending on sex,” ODFW said. “Gray whales usually surface to breath 3-5 times, then make a deep feeding dive, often with tail flukes visible, lasting 3-5 minutes.”

Above: the south jetty at Warrenton

On the north coast, however, there are plenty of reports of Humpback whales. ODFW said they've been seen quite often at the mouth of the Columbia (Astoria and Warrenton) feeding on anchovies.

“Look for them near the south jetty,” ODFW said. “The best time to view whales is on calm days when whale spouts cannot be confused with whitecaps. Look for whales as they surface to blow air and occasionally flip their tails above the water. Don’t forget to bring binoculars.”

When it comes to birds, some species are really making a show in forests around Manzanita, Cannon Beach and Seaside.

“When out in the forests of the north coast, you might be startled by the flapping of wings overhead in the trees,” ODFW said. “These are likely band-tailed pigeons that are feeding on cascara berries.”

The agency said the berries are also called chitum, and they are a native broadleaf species of tree that looks like a red alder. These have dark berries that the native pigeons love to forage on. Another favorite of these birds are red elderberries shrubs that have small red berries in grape-like clusters.

Also on the north coast, for those walking around rocky outcroppings or nearshore rocks, ODFW said you may be surprised by an outburst of calls from the black oystercatcher.

“With its black feathers and bright orange bill and feet, it’s easy to distinguish from other birds,” ODFW said. “However, its name is a true misnomer as it does not feed on oysters at all. Rather, it feeds primarily on mussels that cling to the tidally-influenced rocks.”

Around Oceanside, Three Arch Rocks normally sees great numbers of nesting common murres about now, but a bald eagle or two has chased them away in recent years. Instead, however, you can see a lot of stellar sea lions on the most forward rock.

“They can be seen loafing on the rock, often with young pups in the mix,” ODFW said. “These are the larger and lighter-colored cousin to the more common California sea lion.” Where to stay for this - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour

Otter Crest Area

Rocky Creek area

 

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A famous little family eatery where the seafood practically gets shuffled from the sea straight into your mouth. Soups and salads include many seafood specialties, including cioppino, chowders, crab Louie and cheese breads. Fish 'n' chips come w/ various fish. Seafood sandwiches with shrimp, tuna or crab, as well as burgers. Dinners like pan fried oysters, fillets of salmon or halibut, saut�ed scallops.
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Pacific City, Oregon

 


 

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