Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

Get Ready: Feeding Frenzies and Humpbacks May Be Headed for Oregon / Washington Coast

Published 08/07/23 at 5:21 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Get Ready: Feeding Frenzies and Humpbacks May Be Headed for Oregon / Washington Coast

(Astoria, Oregon) – It hasn't happened every year, but in the last decade most late summers seem to end up with a good run of humpback whales and some outlandish feeding frenzies in at least one stream on the north Oregon coast. The areas around the mouth of the Columbia River have been drawing in lots of baitfish in recent years, called a “baitball,” and that brings in humpback whales, scores of birds, and occasionally other sights to the southern Washington coast and north Oregon shores. (Above: Humpback in Astoria's waters, darting between boats. All photos courtesy Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium)

Latest Coastal Lodging News Alerts
In Seaside:
Includes exclusive listings; some specials in winter
In Cannon Beach:
Includes rentals not listed anywhere else
In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
Some specials for winter
In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Some specials for winter
In Lincoln City:
Some specials for winter
In Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach:
Some specials for winter
In Newport:
Look for some specials
In Waldport
Some specials for winter
In Yachats, Florence
Some specials for winter
Southern Oregon Coast Hotels / Lodgings
Reedsport to Brookings, places to stay; winter deals

There have been some minor sightings of humpbacks already, but these are likely just normal traffic past the area. Most notably there was a humpback entangled in fishing gear, which disappeared rather quickly. Crews Get Ready to Help Entangled Humpback Whale Off Oregon / Washington Coast, But It Disappears

Baitfish, like anchovies, herring and schade sometimes wind up here in great numbers – largely because of all the nutrients pouring down from the Columbia and even the Necanicum at Seaside. When that happens in late summer, around August or September, suddenly the whales swoop in.

Humpbacks love these baitballs, but so do pelicans and copious other species of fowl, so you'll consequently see a little rivalry in some ocean spots. Huge masses of birds can sometimes be seen smothering some chunks of ocean or the area around Long Beach and Astoria. It's then you'll likely see humpbacks in there.

One of the major, spectacular sights – albeit brief – is some true insanity in the Necanicum River between Seaside and Gearhart. Occasionally, these baitfish make runs upstream to gobble more nutrients, and then they too get gobbled by all the birds in a frenzied display. Other times, the run of baitfish get stuck going upstream or they eat up all the oxygen, die en masse and stink the hell out of the surrounding area.

When it comes to humpbacks, these displays have been wild as well. One year, there were a handful of them around Astoria, darting in and around the many boats there. Their presence is always accompanied by the frenetic presence of birds chomping on fishies.

Seaside Aquarium's Tiffany Boothe has documented many of these events since about 2014 – which seemingly didn't used to happen before then. It's an unusual and rather late development for the Oregon and Washington coast.

“Typically Humpbacks in our area are seen feeding during the summer months five to fifteen miles off the coast, but venture closer to follow bait balls of small fish,” she said. “A small handful of individuals have been known to brave the Columbia River when smolt runs are prolific and can spend a few days or a few weeks within the lower reaches of the river consuming up to 3,000 pounds of krill and small fish per day. A few great locations to see the river-exploring whales include Hammond Marina and Cape Disappointment State Park.”

They've also been known to loiter offshore from the Long Beach Peninsula fairly frequently during these times, and hover as far south as Cannon Beach, putting on a show in both areas.

Keep an eye on Oregon Coast Beach Connection for updates. If you have the Google News app you can follow news updates there.

Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - South Coast Hotels - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours


More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....

Coastal Spotlight

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.

LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

Deep Oregon Coast History at Seaside, Coos Bay Events: of Coroners and of Loc...
One in Seaside on Clatsop County deaths and a few in Coos Bay on geography. Seaside events

Brief Highlights of Washington Coast King Tides So Far (and Some Oregon Video)
A sunny, lovely backdrop of blue skies with wild surf

Cape Meares Loop Rd. Reopens, N. Oregon Coast's Three Capes is 'Loop' Again A...
The name Three Capes Loop is reinstated. Weather

Sea Turtle Stranding Season Again on Washington / Oregon Coast. Be on the Loo...
They get cold-stunned by surprise NW waters. Marine sciences

OSU and NASA to Send Microbes Into Space | Oregon Coast Beach Connection
Samples should be ready to go in 2025

Heightened Sneaker Wave Threat This Weekend on Oregon Coast / Washington Coast
An unusually high period between swells with king tides spells problems

Random Night Shot Proof You Should Look Up: What's Next Oregon / Washington C...
Meteor showers, False Dawn, Fireballs, ISS, Satellites. Sciences

Holiday Lights at Shore Acres Offers Free Shuttles, More Reservations for S. ...
Starting Nov. 23. Still reserved spots left or take a shuttle. Coos Bay events

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on Oregon Coast Beach Connection
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright Oregon Coast Beach Connection. Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted