Oregon Officials Tout Current Whale Activity, Offer Tips
(Oregon Coast) – Whale activity is definitely starting to slow down, but there's probably at least another week of nice whale spotting action on the Oregon coast before it takes a break for about three weeks or so. (Above: Whale photo of a mom and calf by Seaside Aquarium)
At the Whale Watch Center in Depoe Bay, they've started to see the slowdown, but still some days filled with whales being seen, sometimes between ten and 20, depending on weather conditions.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) offered up some tips on spotting the cetacean giants.
ODFW said recent tagging studies by Oregon State University scientists show that most gray whales only stay about three weeks in the warm waters off Baja, Mexico. Then they head back to the cold, but plankton-rich waters of the north Pacific. The exception is mothers and calves, which stay on the breeding grounds between two and three months.
“Big Pacific storms can make whale watching difficult with wind and waves obscuring signs of the grey whale migration,” ODFW said in a release. “To watch the migration, it is best to pick a calm day and find a view point that is high enough to spot the spouts.”
Learning good binocular technique will also help considerably, Look out onto the ocean, focusing on medium distances until you see a puff of white. Then raise your binoculars while continuing to look at the place you saw the puff. This technique may take some practice, but it will work better than moving your optics around constantly in search of the spouts.
ODFW said a gray whale's blow is up to 15 feet high, and each blow is visible for about five seconds. This comes from the warm, moist air exhaled from the animals' lungs meeting the colder air around it.
“Anticipate that the whale will dive for three to six minutes, then surface for three to five blows in row, 30 to 50 seconds apart, before diving deep for three to six minutes again,” ODFW said.
Grays are often found within a few miles of shore as they migrate from Alaska to Baja. The only other place on earth gray whales live is off the coast of Korea.
See more at the Oregon Coast Whale Watching Guide and blog.
Whale photos below courtesy Seaside Aquarium.
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