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Whales and Hidden Spots a Regular Part of This Tiny Oregon Coast Wonder: Depoe Bay Video

Published 07/31/2018 at 5:21 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Whales and Hidden Spots a Regular Part of This Tiny Oregon Coast Wonder: Depoe Bay Video

(Depoe Bay, Oregon) – Whales, spectacular storm-like waves and plenty of hidden spots. This is just business as usual in the area of the central Oregon coast that’s actually a bit unusual. At least in its array of things to do and see.

Depoe Bay is often passed over in favor of sandy areas. The town and areas around it have none of those, but that’s actually its most interesting aspect.

Dramatic wave action is the norm here, with those craggy cliffs and sturdy basalt shelves halting the ocean in its path and causing waves to wallop and explode. It doesn't take much for that to happen around here. Anything more than extremely calm tides and you have copious splashes and maybe even that impressive, legendary spouting horn.

At the extreme southern and northern tips of town you have two deliriously engaging hidden spots. Look for South Point Avenue at the southern end or Sunset Avenue at the north, and you'll find a set of cliffs where few others are and where all sorts of wondrous things happen that don't occur anywhere else nearby.

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Both boast cliffs about 30 feet above the surf, and it’s generally non-stop action here. South Point is a bit more of a delicate situation as the only parking is in the middle of someone else’s neighborhood, and so are the cliffs. Parking at North Point is also delicate, but you’re not wandering in front of people’s homes as you meander along these awe-inspiring rockfaces.

In either case, be considerate as you park.

North Point is actually the more interesting of the two: a myriad of surreal and even strange surprises await. Here, you can look back at downtown Depoe Bay as if you're on a boat out to sea. Sometimes, if you're really lucky, whales will linger very close here and look you in the eye. They're as curious about you as you are about them. The other magnificent aspect is that if the surf is rowdy enough, you can actually feel the waves shake the basalt cliff.

Whales are the other massive attraction to this central Oregon coast paradise.

Luke Parsons, head of the Whale Watch Center in Depoe Bay, said it’s not uncommon to see plenty around these parts at any time of the year. They are sometimes putting on an incredible show.

It’s mostly because many whales are the so-called “resident whales,” which linger in the area and don’t appear to migrate. You simply get more whales here.

At one point this spring, Parsons talked about this with Oregon Coast Beach Connection.

“What we’re seeing now is a mix of some of the gray whales headed back up north,” Parsons said. “We also had a fair number of gray whales that didn’t fully migrate, which we see from time to time. Researchers are getting better at tracking some of these animals.”

Plenty of the whales are simply hanging out and feeding. Some of them are fattening up for the migrations north or south. Why here, on this part of the Oregon coast?

It’s all about food. The area is thick with kelp forests, which is where the gray whales’ favorite food sources like to hide. Mysid shrimp are a favorite with the great cetaceans.

This, in turn, has led to some of the more spectacular sights. They come in closer to land instead of wandering several miles offshore. When they’re here, Parsons and others have seen them engage in a different diving pattern.

“We know they’re going for a deeper dive when the whale’s fluke comes up out of the water,” Parsons said. “That’s a signal they’re heading straight down to the bottom. We had one whale stay in a known feeding area for almost three hours, so obviously that whale was not migrating but feeding.”

More on this area (and below): Lodgings in Depoe Bay - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours

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