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WHALE WATCHING ON THE OREGON COAST

BEST WAYS TO SEE GRAY WHALES ON THE OREGON COAST

March 2021

 

Experience the wonders of whale watching on the Oregon Coast! The most commonly seen whales from our shores are the large gray whales. These giants are visible year-round, but whale sightings are especially plentiful during their annual migrations. Gray whales migrate north from Baja, Mexico, in the spring months to feed in the arctic waters off the coast of Alaska. By late March large traveling pods of gray whales reach Oregon, where many break their journey to feed along the coast, drawing them closer to the shoreline.

A certain number of these migrating whales end their trip short of the arctic, become summer residents and feast on the abundant amphipods along the Oregon coast. When winter comes the gray whales migrate back south to their breeding grounds in the warm waters of Baja, Mexico. From mid-December through late January the south-bound pods can be spotted in abundance along the Oregon coast.

HOW TO SPOT WHALES

The best way to spot a whale is by its spout. Whales are mammals and need air to breathe. When a gray whale surfaces it discharges its lungs through its blowhole in a great plume of water and air that shoots up to form a cloud just above the surface of the water. When you see that cloud, there’s a whale under it! Focus on that spot with your eyes or binoculars. gray whales will often perform a set of shallow dives and spout three or five times before they dive back down to deeper waters. When the whale dives you may catch a glimpse of its enormous iconic tail emerging for a few seconds before it splashes and disappears. If you’re lucky you may see a breach—most of the whale’s body breaks the water as it flips on its back and lands back on the water with a resounding splash. Gray whales often breach several times in a row, making for an amazing spectacle.

WHERE TO SPOT WHALES

Our capes, headlands, and other elevations are ideal locations for whale watching. Fruitful spots for whale watching include the Whale Watching Center at Depoe Bay, Yakina Head, Cape Kiwanda, and nearby Cape Lookout. Whale watching excursions by air and sea are also available along the coast.

We are fortunate at Headlands to experience frequent daily sightings of these amazing creatures right from our beach, especially during migration seasons and the summer months. Whale sightings from the comforts of our lodge are a regular experience for many of our guests. Another good way to whale watch is to it sit back with a pair of binoculars and scan the horizon from your guest room’s private balcony.

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