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When a Baby Orca Visited Central Oregon Coast River | Video

Published 04/03/21 at 6:55 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

When a Baby Orca Visited Central Oregon Coast River | Video

(Florence, Oregon) – It’s spring of 2015, a lovely set of days in May. Lisa Horn of Sweet Home is visiting the central Oregon coast town of Florence, during a week where there have been lots of Killer Whale sightings farther up north, especially around Depoe Bay. (Photo above: Seaside Aquarium's Tiffany Boothe spotted a trio of Orcas near Florence about 2010.).

Every spring, usually in late March or April, a rather mysterious group of killer whales show up along the Oregon coast, sticking around through May and sometimes into June. They are called transient whales, and not much is known about them. These whales are slightly more beaked in appearance and are a bit of a puzzle because scientists don't actually know where they come from.

The one thing that is for certain is that they come this way chasing newborn gray whales for food as the grays and their parents migrate past the Oregon coast.

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The week prior to this mid May event in 2015, the Whale's Tail Whale Watching Tours out of Depoe Bay caught some incredible photos of Orcas at sea. Then a few days later, Horn caught some amazing video of the same pod carousing not just in the mouth of Florence's Siuslaw River – but quite a ways up the river.

Like that sighting at sea, Horn was there to see the same group with its two baby Orcas. That earlier encounter entailed what appeared to be six whales, but Horn told Oregon Coast Beach Connection at the time that this group was just two adults and the two little ones.

Still shot from Horn's video

Horn said she was staying at a condo along the Suislaw River when the Orcas appeared on the other side, far away. There were numerous people in other condos, and everyone soon had their cameras out. It was about 2:30 to 3 p.m.

“They were going towards the bridge, then disappeared for a while, and then they came back up,” Horn said. “So it was about all of 25 minutes.”

Horn watched them reappear on the inland side of the bridge, and then they disappeared before coming back up where Horn caught the Killer Whales on camera. She said she saw them quite a ways up the river, all the way near the Mo's restaurant a few blocks away.

To see them go that far up a river is fairly rare.

“Later that night we had dinner at Mo's and the waitress said they saw them there, through the big windows,” Horn said. “So a lot of people got a good view.”

Even more dramatically, the Orcas appeared to be eating something – most likely a seal or sea lion, but possibly just plenty of fish. While Horn could not see what they were chomping on, she said there were quite a lot of seagulls diving in the water just after the whales and feeding off whatever they left behind.

The Orcas clearly chased away wildlife in the area. Horn recounted a situation similar to the whale watch tour boat in Depoe Bay the prior week that encountered the usual number of sea lions loitering in the waters on one trip, and then sudden, mysteriously – as if a kind of omen – they disappeared.

“Before they showed up there were seals around,” Horn said. “Then all of a sudden the seals were gone.”

This is a regular thing with killer whales, something the Whale Watch Center in Depoe Bay says happens often. You see gray whales with their babies and maybe other seals or aquatic wildlife, and abruptly they’re all gone. Other ocean-dwelling creatures seem to know the dangers ahead of time. MORE ORCA PHOTOS BELOW

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Photos below courtesy Whale Watch Center in Depoe Bay

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Keywords: Oregon Coast, travel, whales, killer whales, orcas, Yachats, Florence, Depoe Bay, beaches,