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Great Summer for Whales, Crabbing, Clamming, Sea Lions: Oregon Coast Officials

Published 08/02/2019 at 6:23 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Great Summer for Whales, Crabbing, Clamming, Sea Lions: Oregon Coast Officials

(Oregon Coast) – The tail end of summer is a good time to catch sight of a whale’s tail, say state officials. Indeed, all of the Oregon coast is bursting with possibilities when it comes whale watching, catching sight of seals and sea lions, and crabbing and clamming. On top of it all, social media is bursting at the seams with reports of whales, adding to the array of fun times along the beaches. (Photo above courtesy Seaside Aquarium).

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According to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), these are the hot activities on the Oregon coast right now - both southern coast and northern half.

Humpback whale sightings along the north Oregon coast have been rather good as of late, with the Clatsop and Pacific County Whale Sightings group on Facebook citing quite a few of those behemoths around Astoria. Seaside Aquarium notes plenty of them as well, saying they are chasing lots of baitfish in the area.

On the central Oregon coast, good weather and calm conditions have meant exceptional whale sightings, especially in the Depoe Bay and Newport areas. The Facebook group Central Oregon Coast Cetacean Watch is providing a huge array of video and pictures, especially the famed gray whale that is a part time resident called Scarback.

“There are approximately 200 resident gray whales that live nearly year-round off Oregon,” ODFW said. “Gray whales, humpbacks, orcas, and sperm whales can all be seen off the coast.”

To spot them, keep your eye on the ocean and look for the telltale blow or spout, usually about six to 12 feet high. Gray whales normally surface to breathe about three to five times before diving down again. Binoculars are recommended for best viewing, ODFW said.

If you want to catch sight of seals or sea lions, look to bays and their mudflats, or sandbars and piers.

“Good locations for viewing include the South Jetty of the Columbia River, sandbars in Netarts Bay, near the mouth of the Siletz River, Yaquina Bay between the jetties and along the bay front, sandbars and beaches near the mouth of Alsea Bay, Cape Argo, Rouge Reef, and Simpson Reef,” ODFW said.

A rarer sighting are Elephant seals which can be seen at Simpson Reef on Shell Island at Cape Arago State Park.

ODFW said this season is a good time to get clamming as low tides happen frequently. This counts for Oregon coast estuaries as well.

For razor clams, the big gorilla in the room is that Clatsop beaches are off limits to recreational harvesting as part of the annual conservation closure, going from July 15 to September 30 every year. This is for the area from Seaside’s Tillamook Head to the mouth of the Columbia River. The rest of the coastline is open, however.

“For the Central Coast area, diggers report mixed success at Newport beaches, with more limits at North Jetty and Agate Beach,” ODFW said. “South Beach has been slow and clammers report difficulty seeing shows.”

Bay clamming is alive and well in just about all areas of the Oregon coast, including bays at Nehalem, Tillamook, Netarts, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Newport, Waldport and Florence. On the south coast, look for them at baymouths of the Umpqua, Coos Bay, Coquille, and other rivers.

Crabbing in south coast areas at the Coos Bay and Coquille estuaries has been limited, ODFW said. However, crabbing by boats or setting pots near jetties has been more effective. The Bandon docks have been good for Dungeness lately.

Along the central coast, Newport and Waldport have been having slightly higher yield numbers than other places, especially by boat. Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - Where to eat - Map - Virtual Tour








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