Oregon Winter December 17, 2019
See Thousands Of Whales During Their Winter Migration On The Oregon Coast During Whale Watching Week
Whale watchers love to visit the Oregon coast to spot these gentle giants, and can usually spot whales year-round in the Depoe Bay area. This time of year is a great time to see whales all along the coast as they migrate south, and Whale Watching Week is coming up soon, so you’ll definitely want to plan a visit.
Every year, around 20,000 gray whales migrate from the waters off the Alaska coast down to the warmer climate of Baja, Mexico. During their 6,000-mile journey, they swim right along the Oregon coast.
From mid-December to mid-January, it's pretty easy to spot whales along the coast, especially if you have binoculars.
While you'll be able to see the whales for most of the four-week period, during Whale Watch Week, the numbers of whales are at their peak. This year's Winter Whale Watch Week takes place from Friday, December 27th through Thursday, December 31st.
To spot whales, watch for their spouts. The whales spout three to five times before heading back into the depths to feed for another five to ten minutes.
Whales have two lungs, each about the size of a refrigerator. When they spout, they're releasing the air from their lungs at about 100 miles per hour. The mist spouts high above the waves, and that's the first sign you'll see.
If the whale is fairly close to shore, you might spot his back as he comes to the surface. If you're really lucky, you might see him breach (come up out of the water), but that's rare.
It's much more common to spot the whale's fluke (or tail) as he dives back down into deeper water.
Depoe Bay is a great place to see whales, and its Visitor Center is staffed with park rangers and volunteers who are happy to provide you with plenty of info about gray whales and other resident wildlife.
During the winter, the center is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but it's also open December 30th and 31st for Whale Watch Week.
While they're down in the warm waters of Baja, Mexico, female whales give birth to their calves. Then in March, they make the return journey to Alaska. In 2020, the Spring Whale Watch Week is Saturday, March 21st through Sunday, March 29th.
The volunteer organization Whale Watching Spoken Here has 24 locations along the coast where volunteers will be on hand during Whale Watching Week to educate visitors and help them sight the whales.
to see the map and get more information.
Ready to learn more about the 20,000 gray whales that will be traveling along the coast this winter? Visit the Oregon State Parks
website, and check out the Whale Watching Spoken Here blog, too. For updates about all of Oregon’s state parks, follow the Oregon State Parks Facebook page.
Do you have great stories or photos of the whales you’ve spotted along the Oregon coast? If so, we’d love to see them in the comments!
Address: Depoe Bay, OR 97341, USA
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