Tips for Spotting Whales on Oregon Coast
(Oregon Coast) – There are still plenty of whales wandering past the Oregon coast right now, in January. The Whale Watch Center in Depoe Bay reported from 20 to 40 sightings per day during many days last week, though you have to have better viewing conditions.
The great beasts are still in migration here, on their way south. This will start to drop off abruptly in a couple weeks, however.
In the meantime, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) offered up some tips for spotting the cetaceans.
ODFW suggests finding a calm day and a high viewpoint, such as Neahkahnie Mountain near Manzanita, Cape Foulweather near Depoe Bay, Ecola State Park at Cannon Beach or the Cape Perpetua Visitors Center near Yachats – to name a few.
Low wave height is very important, as these act like trenches that hide the whales from view. Calm conditions – as well as not so stormy or foggy – make a big difference.
Also, you'll want to look out a few miles beyond shore.
“Learning good binocular technique will help spot the whales,” ODFW said. “Gaze out onto the ocean, focusing on medium distances until you see a puff of white. Then raise your binoculars while continuing to look at the place you saw the puff. This technique takes some practice, but generally works better than swinging the binoculars around looking for something. Just keep your eyes focused on the whale and raise the binoculars to your eyes, looking through them, not into them.”
Another great help is knowing how to spot them in the midst of the waves – what to look for.
“A gray whale's blow is up to 15 feet high, and each blow is visible for about five seconds,” ODFW said. “When warm, moist air exhaled from the animals' lungs, meets the cool air at the ocean surface, it creates the bushy column called a blow, or spout. Anticipate 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.”
More Oregon coast whale news and updated information is available at the Oregon Coast Whales blog section, included regular whale sightings information.
Whale photo courtesy Seaside Aquarium
Manzanita's Neahkahnie Mountain
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