180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita,
Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City,
Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Wadport, Yachats & Florence.
Babies, Breaches, Spyhops Spotted at Oregon
Coast Whale Watch Week
|Whale Watch spot near Manzanita
(Depoe Bay, Oregon) – Last Saturday was the wrap-up
of the Oregon coast Whale Watch Week,
and it was a doozy, say organizers.
The weeklong events are held on the entire length of the
Oregon coast, and put on three times a year by the Oregon State Parks
and Recreation Department, through a program called Whale
Watch Spoken Here. For just a little over a week, for about three
hours a day, volunteers stand at designated high points along the coastline
and help tourists to the area spot the whales as they migrate one direction
or the other.
In this case, the gray whales were heading north to Alaska’s
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Morris Grover, spokesman and leader of the program, said
the weather cooperated about half the time, but the whales were truly
the stars of the show. “It was a great whale watch week,”
Grover said. “Not all stations have reported in, but so far we have
a whale count of 2,697 and a people count on 15,518. That is an increase
on the whale count and a few hundred lower on the people count from last
|Morris Grover scans for whales in Newport,
Grover said two days of rain and other kinds of bad weather,
including a nasty storm that rolled in on the first Saturday, hindered
some of the watching. But the rest of the week was quite good for spotting
the giant cetaceans. “Conditions were so good that we had some sites
reporting 70, 76, 80 and 152 whales in the three-hour watch time,”
spoke to BeachConnection.net on Sunday, March 25, a day of pristine, blue
skies and even warm conditions at times. He noted it was interesting how
the waves were fairly calm that day, since normally storms like the one
the previous night create residual wave action the following day. Those
waves are often sizable, and not conducive to spotting whales. Grover
said whales can be out there in full force, doing all kinds of spectacular
things, and the weather can be perfect – but if the swells are big
enough, you won’t be able to spot them.
Grover said volunteers at the Sea Lion Caves, near Florence,
spotted 76 whales during the three-hour watch period. The watching was
so good they continued watching for a few more hours and ended up spotting
144 of the great beasts.
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“A lot of the whales were running about three miles
off shore and that is normal,” Grover said. “But we were watching
many of them as close as a half mile. An interesting change on the last
two days: the whales were seen much closer - 30 feet to 30 yards off shore.
And that report came in from locations all along the coast.”
|Near Sea Lion Caves, where 144 whales were
spotted in a few hours
The reasons for that aren’t fully understood, but
Grover and his colleagues had a few possible ideas.
“We are only guessing, but the weather for two days
leading up to the change was very nice, and we were seeing ocean conditions
that looked like summertime,” he said. “That may have brought
them in closer. They have been fasting for three or four months, and that
calm may have made it easy for them to come in for a closer look for a
snack on their way north.”
Nature put on quite a show the entire week in various ways,
but especially with the whales. Grover said a Minke whale was spotted
several times in different locations around Depoe Bay, which is a bit
A Minke whale is the smallest of the baleen whales, clocking
in at around 30 feet.
He said there were three sightings of mothers and baby
whales, which Grover said was notable because it’s a little early
in the season for babies.
“Breaches were being reported all along the coast,”
Grover said. “It seems the whales were very happy to be back in
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Breaches are when whales lunge out of the water, sometimes
getting airborne. Grover said he saw this a few times this year, with
the whales nearly completely out of the water, with only their tales still
in the ocean as they jump out for a second. He described it as looking
a bit like a submarine when it makes an emergency surface.
|Spyhop on central coast - photo by Morris Grover
“I’ve seen them get completely airborne before,”
Grover said. “It’s quite a sight. I saw that last year, actually.”
Grover said it is one great feat to get these great behemoths
into the air to any degree. They weigh about 70,000 pounds, or about 35
Another exciting sight was the whales doing spyhops, Grover
said. This is when they briefly emerge from the water with their eyes
fixed on something, apparently looking at the world around them. This
was spotted several times on Friday.
“I’ve seen them do that, then go down into
the water, spin around 180 degrees, and come back so that the other eye
is facing the same direction as the last eye was,” Grover said.
“They are extremely agile under water, and can spin around or maneuver
"They raise up straight out of the water. They are
actually looking at the people or the shoreline. When I watched the whale
pivot, it was so that he could see all the people standing on the sidewalk
and he scanned 180 degrees. Then the second spyhop was looking at the
same area again as if to see if we were watching."
|Cape Foulweather, between Newport and Depoe Bay, another popular
whale watch spot
Volunteers at Rocky Creek, just south of Depoe Bay, watched
spyhops and a mother and baby for hours on Friday.
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The whales weren’t the only ones providing the entertainment,
“Yaquina Head visitors got to watch whales but also
a bald eagle pick a bird of the rocks,” Grover said. “Not
to be outdone, Depoe Bay watched a bald eagle pick up a large fish and
carry it off. But just to make sure visitors watched it, he came back
and picked up a second fish from the same spot.”
said there’s more interesting stuff to come, whether or not there
are volunteers out there.
“It truly was an amazing show this year,” he
said. “Don't forget that the whales are still heading north, and
even if we don't have our volunteers out there, the whales are. We will
still be watching them going north until the first of June. Mothers and
babies are the last to arrive and they usually peak around Mother's Day.
“Don't forget that summer watching is the best
time to see the whales close up. Summer whales are here for the food.
The ocean won't start really producing food until June, with constant
whales eating off the coast from mid July to mid November. Check the Whale
Watching Center;s 'recent sightings' on the web at whalespoken.org.”
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Than 20 Reasons for a Late Spring Oregon Coast Jaunt From
lonely beaches, live music pleasures, weird storms sights to lodging
Transformations of Oregon Coast Beaches Seasons change
and so do beaches, revealing different sides and a variety of eye-popping
Found on Oregon Beach May Be 80,000 Years Old - They
are the remnants of a forest apparently 80,000 years old, found at Hug
or Night Mysteries and Merriment on Oregon Coast It's
more than just nightlife that comes to life, but the beaches offer major
Wines and Wine Bars on the Oregon Coast Wine shops
and wine bars are a growing part of coastal tourism
coast mileage chart & map
trips, suggested itineraries
Coast Lodging Specials
BeachConnection.net's 1,000 pages
Coast Real Estate
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Where the Columbia
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weekly updated info on lodgings and accomodation reviews, see
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