The Oregon coastline is the place to be March 22-29 as gray whales cruise north on their spring migration. Gray whale numbers usually peak about the last week in March and just in time for the Spring Whale Watch Week. Nearly 160 gray whales pass along the coast each day and whale watchers may see their 12-foot blow–or spout–from the shore.
Trained volunteers will be at 24 “Whale Watching Spoken Here” sites along the coast 10 a.m.-1 p.m. each day. They will answer questions and share tips about spotting some of the 18,000 gray whales heading from their breeding grounds on Mexico’s Baja coast to their summer feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi Seas.
Visitors hoping to spot some of these passing giants should come to the coast with binoculars and rain gear and look for the “Whale Watching Spoken Here” signs at the whale watching viewpoints. This time of year most of the whales can be spotted about 1-3 miles off the coastline. Occasionally, whales will search for food or an early mother and calf will swim close to the shore.
Oregon State Park rangers and volunteers will also be at the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay 10 a.m-4 p.m. each day of the watch week. The Oregon State University Hatfield Marine Science Center, in nearby Newport, offers daily programs including 30-minute whale skeleton tours and marine mammal presentations.
Maps of the “Whale Watching Spoken Here” viewpoints are online at www.whalespoken.org.
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department coordinates the whale watch weeks with support from the Hatfield Marine Science Center.