Oregon Coast Whale Watch Week Begins - But More Whales Coming
(Oregon Coast) - Thousands of whales means thousands of spectators along dozens of high vantage points on the Oregon coast this week, as the Whale Watch Week officially begins on Sunday, December 26. Trained volunteers will be at 26 "Whale Watching Spoken Here" sites from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day to help visitors spot as many as possible through January 1, 2011.
But the whale watching continues fairly heavily throughout January.
This massive migration has been going on for a while, as the grays are heading south from their summer feeding water in the Bering and Chukchi seas near Alaska to their breeding and calving lagoons along the Baja coast of California.
Scientists say there are some 18,000 cetaceans in these migrations – and that’s Gray whales alone. Another 1,100 or so will be Humpback whales.
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, which coordinates the winter and spring whale watch weeks, said it is advising people to bring binoculars for this whale spotting expedition, as most of the whales are traveling three to five miles away from shore.
Volunteers will be perched on high spots around the coast to help visitors in this, including places like Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach, Neahakhnie Mountain above Manzanita, Cape Meares, Cape Kiwanda, Inn at Spanish Head in Lincoln City, the Whale Watch Center in Depoe Bay, Cape Foulweather, Nye Beach, Cape Perpetua and many more listed below.
Linda Taylor, with the Whale Watch Center, said the whale spotting has been great this past week, but this was a parade that started to get rained on thanks to increasingly heavier ocean conditions. High waves make it difficult to see whales. Otherwise, you can see plenty.
“Actually it’s great right now,” Taylor said Wednesday. “It’s been good a little bit early. We saw 28 yesterday, but today the seas are a little bit rougher. We probably only saw four today. It’s still very weather dependent. This week we’ve been seeing anywhere from 10 to 28 a day.”
Taylor said the whale migrations seem to stick to a steady 18,000, and that the primary factor in being able to see them is weather.
“It’s always the same numbers; the whole population going past,” Taylor said.
Wind conditions look good for next week’s whale sighting festival. The whole week seems to indicate periods of showers for the coast. On the north coast on Monday the wind speed is forecast at around 14 mph, Tuesday is 5 mph, Wednesday at 10 mph, Thursday at 9 mph, and so on. For the central coast, wind speeds are just a point or two higher.
The forecast for whale watching is good because of lower winds, though other conditions could stir the surf.
Last winter’s Whale Watch Week yielded some major records. The whale count was over 700 and they had at least 9,000 visitors come to check out the watery beasts – records that likely had to do with decent weather last year at this time.
From late December through to the end of January, more than 1900 whales will be passing by Oregon’s coast on a southerly jaunt towards the waters of Baja. They all return in March as they swim to feeding grounds in the north.
Then, just before the beginning of February, like clockwork, it all nearly completely stops. You will see almost nothing until around the beginning of March, as they start the trek back up.
In the spring migration, with baby whales in tow, this attracts Killer whales to the spectacle, who are looking to feed on the little ones.
More information is at www.whalespoken.org
The full list of whale watch spots:
More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....
LATEST OREGON COAST NEWS STORIES
Back to Oregon Coast