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Orca and Gray Whale Sightings Still Strong on Oregon Coast - Where to Look, Video

Published 05/30/21 at 6:15 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Orca and Gray Whale Sightings Still Strong on Oregon Coast - Where to Look

(Oregon Coast) – The Orca and gray whale sightings continue along the entire length of the Oregon coast this week and weekend, with some truly striking photos and video popping up from Port Orford through to the wreck of the Peter Iredale. Still, the reports of killer whales are higher than grays for some reason, at least on the four or so main whale watch groups on Facebook. (Photo courtesy US Coast Guard station, Newport)

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Thus, the question continues to surface: where are the whales being seen? And where are your best chances to spot them?

Unfortunately, there is no way to answer that latter question. Whales simply show up when and where they show up, and the gray whale and Orca sightings are all over the place. The good news is there's been a lot of them and there's good weather right now: both situations that make them easier to spot.

That being said, there do seem to be hotspots where more reports have come out of. Although that could simply mean there are people paying more attention in some locales. The one area where Orcas and other whales keep getting reported is right around Port Orford, thanks to the group Port Orford and PNW Whale Watchers. Also on the south coast, Coos Bay has had quite a few reports, but all over – from the bay itself to Cape Arago and Simpson Reef.

Up north near the Wreck of the Peter Iredale near Astoria, a few have popped up there in the last month.

Probably the biggest hotspot is the usual one: the Depoe Bay area. There are more “resident” whales there year-round, and they often come in closer because of food sources and the way the reefs are structured.

The official advice from Oregon Coast Beach Connection on where to find whales: park yourself in a slightly higher-than-usual spot and check out the ocean for awhile. Look for the telltale spouts of gray whales. Grays do not have dorsal fins on top – only in the back. Orcas have that giant fin near their heads.

Reports from Sunday, May 30:

The surf footage was fun to get today but this Gray whale surrounded by Neahkanie mountain, Smugglers cove and Cape Falcon stole the show!

Posted by Mike Peeples on Saturday, May 22, 2021

Mike Peeple's video of a gray whale near Manzanita

According to Oregon Coast Killer Whale Sightings, three or four gray whales were seen by several witnesses lounging around the Rodea Point area – which is just south of Depoe Bay. This spot is a good one in general to keep an eye out for whales.

At Port Orford, that group had an impressive encounter with a young gray whale calf around noon. Group admin Dave Foley said its pattern was wandering around the docks area and around Mill Rocks.

Latest Sightings This Week:

An Orca was seen on Thursday meandering around Simpson Reef near Coos Bay.

Also that day, Mike Peeples caught some incredible footage by drone of a gray whale offshore from Manzanita's Neahkahnie Mountain / Cape Falcon area. The video is above.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Coast Guard snagged some excellent shots of at least one Orca wandering inside Yaquina Bay at Newport (top photo).

There were reports of Orcas near the wreck of the Iredale on May 22, where several sightings had happened quite a bit earlier in May and late April.

Ultimately, your best bet for spotting whales will be the whale tours, which run out of places like Port Orford, Newport, Depoe Bay and perhaps some fishing charters out of Garibaldi or Astoria. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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(Photo above courtesy Garibaldi Charters: killer whales wandering Tillamook Bay on May 8).

Above: Orcas near Sea Lion Caves, courtesy Seaside Aquarium. Below: killer whale photos courtesy Oregon State Parks

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