Oregon Coast Killer Whale Season Kicks Off Early
(Oregon Coast) – The Killer Whales are back.
It happens every April, with a varying number of Killer Whales showing up on the central Oregon coast, usually only in that 100-mile stretch between Florence and the Lincoln City area. You normally don't see them on the north coast.
They seem to already be here – a tad earlier than usual. Members of the Newport Chamber spotted a few recently, and some locals in Yachats snapped some amazing shots of what they described as an unusually large pod of Orcas gunning around the waters there.
These killer whales are a bit of a mystery. They are what are known as “transient” whales, meaning whale experts don't really know where they come from. They’re also more predatory, living off seals and baby Gray whales.
In fact, they are cruising up this way as they follow Gray whales and their newborns.
They are also smaller and more shark-like in appearance than what are nicknamed the “friendly” whales, which visit here from the San Juan Islands and live on salmon. They also run in smaller groups than most Killer Whales.
This group of Orcas will typically stay for a few weeks, but some years they have lingered here into early summer.
Past reports had some of them engaging in some pretty dramatic behaviors. There was one incident about ten years ago where an Orca actually chased a seal all the way into Yaquina Bay and even up the river for awhile. Another year they were seen marauding around the Heceta Head Lighthouse area near Florence and surprisingly not scaring the local seals and sea lions.
Gray whales are still sighted in abundance as well. The network of whale watchers along the coast reported more than 700 whale sightings for the first three days of “Whale Watch Week” in the last week of March. But they are still traveling through and sticking close to shore, so if conditions are right it may well be better numbers than during the big whale week.
More about Oregon coast whales here.
Above: a deceased Orca found in Washington, courtesy Seaside Aquarium. Orca photos below courtesy Seaside Aquarium, as they were seen around Florence.
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