Oregon Coast Whale Watch Week Promises Lots of Whales - If Weather Cooperates
(Oregon Coast) – From Cannon Beach down to Brookings, the Oregon coast will be watching the whales go by this week.
Starting December 26 through December 30, it's Whale Watch Week on the Oregon coast, hosted by Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). At each of the 24 designated “Whale Watching Spoken Here” sites, the fun happens from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., as volunteers help you spot the giant cetaceans lumbering southbound migration from waters in Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico. The volunteers also help you learn about the whales' migration and feeding habits.
From late December through to the end of January, more than 1900 whales will be passing by Oregon’s coast on a southerly jaunt towards the waters of Baja, where females will give birth and other females will get pregnant, only to all return in March as they swim to feeding grounds in the north.
What you see will be very weather-dependent, according to Whale Watch Center officials in Depoe Bay. The center's Linda Taylor said they are out there in heavy numbers already, but you need calm conditions to see them because big waves create giant troughs of water that hide the whales.
Weather has not been so cooperative in the last two weeks.
“On the couple of clear days, we saw quite a few whales, but didn't have many of those calm days,” Taylor said. “They're out there though.”
About 18,000 will be gray whales and another 1,100 or so will be Humpback whales. Although most of the herd will be five miles out to sea, plenty will be milling around close to shore, enabling visitors to spot them when calmer seas prevail.
Then, just before the beginning of the February, like clockwork, it all nearly completely stops. You'll hardly spot any through February – which, ironically – typically has many days of good weather.
OPRD suggest to bring binoculars and patience to the Whale Watch sites.
There are no sites in Seaside or Astoria, but there is one on the Washington coast at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Ilwaco, Washington.
Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach has one, and about 15 miles south at the Neahkahnie Mountain Historic Marker Turnout on Highway 101, just above Manzanita.
On the Three Capes Tour there is Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint, Cape Lookout State Park (that one requires a 2.5-mile hike to the site at the tip of the Cape), and then several miles south at the top of Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City.
In Lincoln County, you'll find the most sites: Inn at Spanish Head Lobby on 10th floor (Lincoln City), Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint (near Depoe Bay), The Whale Watching Center/in Depoe Bay, Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint (just south of Depoe Bay), Cape Foulweather and the Devil's Punchbowl State Natural Area (both between Newport and Depoe Bay), Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, and Don Davis City Park, also in Newport.
The next one is about a 30-minute drive south, past Yachats, at the Cape Perpetua Interpretive Center and the Cook's Chasm Turnout (directly on the Lincoln County/Lane County line).
About 15 miles south of there is the Sea Lion Caves Turnout – the large Highway 101 turnout south of tunnel, and a bit north of Florence.
On the southern Oregon coast, the Whale Watch sites are Umpqua Lighthouse, near Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, Shore Acres State Park, Face Rock Wayside State Scenic Viewpoint, Battle Rock Wayfinding Point, Port Orford, Cape Ferrelo, Harris Beach State Park, Brookings, Oregon, and the 9th Street Beach, Crescent City, California.
Ecola State Park, Cannon Beach
On top of Cape Foulweather
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