18,000 Whales Wander Past Oregon Coast
(Oregon Coast) – Spring Whale Watch Week is around the corner, where trained volunteers will be at 24 "Whale Watching Spoken Here" sites along the coast from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. each day. This year's fest of the mighty, watery beasts runs March 22-29, as gray whales cruise north on their spring migration.
Gray whale numbers usually peak about the last week in March and just in time for the Spring Whale Watch Week. Nearly 160 gray whales pass along the coast each day and whale watchers may see their 12-foot blow - or spout - from the shore.
Some 18,000 gray whales are heading from their breeding grounds on Mexico's Baja coast to their summer feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi Seas.
Visitors hoping to spot some of these passing giants should come to the coast with binoculars and rain gear and look for the "Whale Watching Spoken Here" signs at the whale watching viewpoints. This time of year most of the whales can be spotted about 1-3 miles off the coastline. Occasionally, whales will search for food or an early mother and calf will swim close to the shore.
Oregon State Park rangers and volunteers will also be at the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay 10 a.m-4 p.m. each day of the watch week. The Oregon State University Hatfield Marine Science Center, in nearby Newport, offers daily programs including 30-minute whale skeleton tours and marine mammal presentations.
On the north coast, Whale Watch Week spots are at Ilwaco, Washington and at Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach. The Neahkahnie overlooks above Manzanita is the next closest vantage point.
Along the Three Capes Loop, the whale spotting spots are at Cape Meares, Cape Lookout (a 2.5 mile hike to the tip), both near Oceanside, and at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City.
There's a huge number of them on the central coast, including the Inn at Spanish Head lobby on the 10th floor in Lincoln City. Between Depoe Bay and Newport sit the largest amount of them. In Newport, there's Don Davis State Park, in the historic Nye Beach neighborhood, and Yaquina Bay Outstanding Natural Area. Close by are a few other official sites: Boiler Bay State Park, Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint, the state’s Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay, Cape Foulweather and Devil's Punchbowl State Natural Area (both about five minutes south of Newport), are a short drive away.
Near Yachats, there is Cape Perpetua and the Cook's Chasm Turnout. Sea Lion Caves, near Florence, is the next one if you're heading south.
On the southern Oregon coast, there is the Umpqua Lighthouse, Shore Acres State Park, Face Rock Wayside, Battle Rock in Port Orford, Harris Beach in Brookings, and one in Crescent City, California.
For more information, see www.whalespoken.org or call 541-765-3407. Also, see the Oregon Coast Whale site for year-round information and details on whales along the coast. Find whale watching lodging here. Some of these whale watch spots are seen below.
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