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What's Up With All Those Orcas on Oregon Coast? Talk in Cannon Beach Explains

Published 02/22/23 at 5:59 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

What's Up With All Those Orcas on Oregon Coast? Talk in Cannon Beach Explains

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(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – The interwebs ether along the Oregon coast and Washington coast has been on fire the last two, three years with a lot of observations about orcas. The resulting excitement has been catchy as well. (Photo courtesy Josh McInnes)

Behind much of that is one Facebook page especially: the Oregon Coast Killer Whale group. Spearheading that, and a lot more kinds of communication about killer whales in this region, is a researcher from British Columbia. Josh McInnes, out of British Columbia's Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries Marine Mammal Research Unit, has been a bit of a PR guy for all things orca in this region lately.

In some ways, McInnes is a kind of orca science rock star at the moment, not only great at the communication aspect of educating the public but doing research and compiling other research to assist in even more finds.

Thus the next installment of World of Haystack Rock Library Lecture Series happens March 8, featuring McInnes and a talk on “Transient Killer Whales of the Outer Coast of Oregon and California.” The event is at Cannon Beach Library, 131 N. Hemlock St, Cannon Beach, starting at 7 p.m. It's also available to watch live on Facebook Live.

Courtesy NOAA

For a couple of decades, Oregon coast experts would talk about the transient killer whales coming in every spring, how these whales were different than most orcas – and that little was known about them. Back in 2019, it turned out McInnes and the various groups he worked with through National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) farther north of here had many of them cataloged. It was a sizable sea change for fans of whale watching on the Oregon and Washington coast.

Then, McInnes' groups put out the publication “Transient Killer Whales of Central and Northern California and Oregon: a Catalog of Photo-Identified Individuals,” which had well over 140 of the familiar faces (or snouts, in this case) photographed and named.

McInnes will talk about these and many other aspects of the still-sometimes mysterious cetaceans, and how their presence as apex predators makes them an important part of the oceanic ecosystems of the region. Insights into the latest findings regarding ecology, abundance, distribution, and community structure of these whales along the outer coast and offshore waters of Oregon and California will be presented.

McInnes told Oregon Coast Beach Connection there are three main types of killer whales: residents, offshore whales and the transients, which contain something relatively new called the outer coast transients (they were discovered about ten years ago). The talk will be an interesting dive into one of the Oregon coast's most exhilarating sights.

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Photos above courtesy NOAA

Orcas on the south Oregon coast this year, courtesy Brookings Fishing Charters

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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