State Officials Say Still Plenty of Whales Seen on Oregon Coast
(Oregon Coast) - Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is reporting whale sightings are still fairly abundant on the Oregon coast. The run of great weather the area has had – and will continue to have – is helping make that possible. (Whale photo above courtesy Seaside Aquarium).
In fact, you can count on a good number of whale sightings through the next week, until about the first of February. The migration continues in earnest into mid-January with the youngest whales passing the coast later in the month.
During December's Whale Watch Week, sunny weather gave watchers a clear view of the grey whale migration with 16,000 total sightings along the Oregon coast. That’s more than 10 times the number of sightings the Depoe Bay Whale Watch Center logged for the same week last year.
ODFW said there can be as many as 30 whales per hour moving past a single point on the coast. Most whales are one to five miles offshore. The 16,000 sightings included multiple sightings of the same whale or group of whales.
Recent tagging studies by Oregon State University scientists show that most gray whales only stay about three weeks in the warm waters off Baja, Mexico. Then they head back to the cold, but plankton-rich waters of the north Pacific. The exception is mothers and calves, which stay on the breeding grounds between two and three months.
Big Pacific storms can make whale watching difficult with wind and waves obscuring signs of the grey whale migration. There doesn't appear to be anything but fair weather predicted through the end of the month.
Vantage points on the north Oregon coast to observe the southward migrating mammals include Cape Kiwanda and Cape Lookout near Pacific City, Cape Meares near Oceanside, Neah-Kah-Nie Mtn. and Cape Falcon near Manzanita, and Silver Point and Tillamook Head near Cannon Beach.
For the central Oregon coast, best whale spotting points include the higher clifftops of Lincoln City, the Depoe Bay area (including Rodea Point and Cape Foulweather), Newport's Nye Beach and Yaquina Head, and many of the overlooks just south of Yachats.
More about Oregon coast whales here, and more of these vantage points below.
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