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Orcas Seen Marauding Around Oregon Coast, Washington in Exciting Reports: Video

Published 06/30/2019 at 8:53 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Orcas Seen Marauding Around Oregon Coast, Washington in Exciting Reports: Video

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(Newport, Oregon) – A nice run of Orca sightings has been occurring around the Oregon coast and the Washington coast, with sightings from Port Orford on the southern coast all the way up to Ocean Park and beyond in the last two weeks. They’ve been documented on video and pictures in Newport, Depoe Bay, Nehalem Bay, Tillamook Bay and the southern Washington coast about two weeks ago and then a major dose of the killer whales in the last three days. (Above: Orcas in Newport, courtesy U.S. Coast Guard and BM2 Martini. Video at bottom of article)

One scientist even figured out their identities, positively identified as transient Orcas, which are a special set of pods that have a more beaked appearance and tend to chomp on baby gray whales migrating through the region as well as seals and sea lions.

The first documentation came from Port Orford roughly about June 16.

The Orca Network in Washington received a tip that they had been spotted around the middle of the month at Tichenor Cove at Port Orford. The tip came from Betty Olson, who said they rarely see the Orcas in that part of the southern Oregon coast, and that they seemed to be moving in a northerly direction.

Sure enough, on June 18 Kelly’s Brighton Marina along the Nehalem Bay posted video of three Orcas marauding around the bay that day.

Reports quieted for a time until June 27, when social media lit up with reports of them in Newport and Depoe Bay. The U.S. Coast Guard in Newport’s Yaquina Bay caught some incredible shots of the Orcas cruising around the baymouth.

The Coast Guard reported the bay became rather empty of sea creatures and wildlife activity, and then these killer whales were spotted.

This is a common occurrence. The Whale Watch Center in Depoe Bay said that they will notice gray whales and other creatures have vacated the area of Depoe Bay where they normally feed, and within a few hours Orcas pop up. Other sea creatures know when these predators are coming.

Reports of the Orcas in Newport also came in from a fisherman along the jetties, saying he spotted a pod of four of them.

Within hours they were seen in the Depoe Bay area. Carrie Newell, of Whale Research Eco Excursions, noted seven of them wandering the waters of the central Oregon coast town, which is about 10 miles north of Newport.

It was here that scientists were able to make an ID of the cetaceans. (See the posts here).

“Melisa Pinnow (Center for Whale Research) has confirmed the IDs on these whales as Bigg's transients: the T49As and the T49Bs,” Newell told the network. “That large male with the small nick in his fin is 18-year-old T49A1 (not yet full-grown!) The T49As were in the Juan de Fuca Strait on 10 June!”

Later on June 28, the next day, the Lewis and Clark Guide Service posted video of at least two Orcas meandering through Tillamook Bay (see below). A beautiful capture, the creatures are gracefully bounding through the water, emerging and then disappearing again.

On the following day, June 29, many reports came from the southern Washington coast of the Orcas in that area, including some more amazing videos on the Clatsop & Pacific County Whale Sightings Facebook page. Reports seemed to concentrate on the Ocean Park region.

This is a bit unusual for the transient Orcas to be wandering the Oregon coast this late in the season. Normally, they show up in April or March, chasing baby grays during migration and are usually gone by June. They are occasionally found here in early to mid June.

Transients are a somewhat mysterious and elusive subset of the western U.S. Orca population that have no real birthing waters or home waters that scientists know of.

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