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Oregon Coast Whale Watch Week May Bring More Whales for Variety of Reasons

Published 3/16/24 at 7:35 p.m.
B
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Oregon Coast) - Look for more whales along the Oregon coast. Oregon State Parks brings its Spring Whale Watch Week to the region March 23 – 31. This time around it's three days longer than usual, which may increase your chances of spotting them. (Photo courtesy Seaside Aquarium)

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Scientists from NOAA believe there may actually be more gray whales for this year's watch, as in recent years there has been what they called an “unusual mortality event” - meaning more of them had been dying. That appears to have leveled off.

Volunteers will be staffing high vantage points along the shoreline in different areas from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

On the south Oregon coast, you'll find them at Reedsport's Umpqua Lighthouse, Coos Bay's Shore Acres State Park, Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint in Bandon and Brookings' Harris Beach State Park.

On the central coast, you'll find them at Heceta Head Lightouse, Cape Perpetua Turnout and the Yachats State Recreation Area in and around Yachats. There's only one this time at Newport: Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. In the Depoe Bay area, there's Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint, The Whale Watching Center, Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint and towering Cape Foulweather.

See the Best of Oregon Coast Lodging for Whale Watching, Whale Watch Week

There's a new one on the north coast at Fort Stevens State Park (Peter Iredale Shipwreck), and the usual Neahkahnie Mountain Overlook by Manzanita and Oceanside's Cape Meares Lighthouse.

No longer hosting the event is Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach.


Courtesy OSU

Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) said the winter 2022 watch tallied over 200 sightings.

“251 whales spotted, 6,830 visitor contacts and 651 volunteer hours,” said OPRD spokesman Stephanie Knowles.

Scientists estimate some 14,500 gray whales will be sauntering past Oregon water from winter through June, heading to their annual migration to Alaska after spending time in birthing waters off Mexico. You'll also be able to see the baby whales in tow.


Orca courtesy Josh McInnes, University of British Columbia

An added attraction: this is the time of year that often begins orca-watching season, which researchers believe is because pupping season for seals starts soon as well. However, there is also some evidence they come after baby gray whales coming through.

Some gray whales were already noted in the Port Orford area, in the Facebook page Port Orford And PNW Whale Watchers.

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Courtesy OSU

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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