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New Surge in Orca Sightings Over Weekend Good Sign for Oregon Coast Holiday

Published 05/24/22 at 7:25 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

New Surge in Orca Sightings Over Weekend Good Sign for Oregon Coast Holiday

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(Brookings, Oregon) – It's like a volcano building pressure: the jaw-dropping sightings of killer whales along the whole of the Oregon coast are not only still happening after two, three weeks of lots of activity but they surged substantially in the last few days. Chances are really quite decent you'll get to spot some over the holiday weekend on the shoreline, but they're even better if you can get there during the weekdays. (Photo courtesy Brookings Fishing Charters)

There were at least 20 different sightings of killer whales around the bulk of the Oregon coast since Friday afternoon, and these riveting encounters continue Monday and today (Tuesday). Reports are pouring in on the various Facebook whale groups, and the photo and video documentation are simply amazing. Many are quite close, within tens of feet sometimes.

In one case, Morgan Lewellen caught video of four different orcas gliding along the jetty at Barview, the opening to Tillamook Bay. They were as little as almost ten feet from her at times.

A week ago, these sightings were a definite delight, and there had certainly been a sizable and steady uptick in these killer whale events. In the last few days, it's reached what could only be called a fever pitch.

Last week, Oregon Coast Beach Connection talked to Josh McInnes of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C, a lead researcher on the killer whale populations off the Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and California coasts. There had definitely been rising numbers here since April and it was reaching new heights in the first two weeks of this month. Since that article was published on May 16, “going through the roof” doesn't even cover the new appearances.

McInnes told Oregon Coast Beach Connection it's all about the increased availability of prey as it's harbor seal pupping season right now. Like late summer when all the baitfish on the north coast draw in huge pods of Humbpack whales, little baby seal pups are a tasty treat to these cetaceans.

“The reports ranged from Manzanita to Coos Bay,” McInnes said of the last few days.

However, some of the most striking video was taken down in Brookings on Saturday by Brookings Fishing Charters. There, they caught a couple of orcas poking out of the ocean, doing a remarkable spy hop. That's when a whale pops its upper body up above the surface, looking like it's standing up for a second, to look around and scope things out.

McInnes confirmed that's what they were doing. In this case, he said, they were chasing a steller sea lion, which you can see attempting to hide under the charter boat. The orcas are seen doing some other jumps out of the water, creating more amazing sights you don't often see.

The charter company reveals that the killer whales eventually got the sea lion, but their video does not show the gory parts.

To see many of the videos and sightings, check out the Port Orford And PNW Whale Watchers group and the Oregon Coast Whale Watchers. MORE ORCA PHOTOS BELOW

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Photos below courtesy Edith Hitchings, who volunteered with Depoe Bay's Whale Watch Center in 2017

Surge in Orca Sightings Over Weekend Bodes Well for Holiday on Oregon Coast
Photo courtesy Selena Rivera

Photo below courtesy NOAA

Photo courtesy Josh McInnes Surge in Orca Sightings Over Weekend Bodes Well for Holiday on Oregon Coast

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