Visit the coast–see Gray whales on the move (2010)

Tips for spotting migrating whales

Whale tail lifting out of the ocean.

A whale lifts its tail flukes out of the water to help it dive.

According to reports from our Whale Watching Center at Depoe Bay, the spring Gray whale migration is off to a fast start. All signs point to a peak during Spring Whale Watch Week March 20-27. The whales are headed north from their winter breeding grounds off Mexico’s coast to the Arctic Ocean for the summer.

Your best bet for spotting one, says Park Ranger Morris Grover, is to come to one of the 26 “Whale Watching Spoken Here” sites along the Oregon coast. Trained volunteers stand ready 10 a.m.-1 p.m. to help you know what to look for.

If you can’t make it to the sites, Grover offers this advice:

  • Go to a viewpoint 50-100 feet above the ocean that has a good view to the southwest. “This lets you see one-two miles offshore with the whales coming toward you,” said Grover. The best time is
    8 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Without using binoculars, focus on the southern third of your view and watch for blows.
  • If you think you see a blow, keep studying the spot and wait for repeats. A whale usually blows three to five times, with 30-50 seconds between blows, then dives below the surface.
  • Keep watching, but move your eyes 300-500 yards northward. That’s the distance whales usually travel before popping up and blowing again.

Here are some other tips to help you have a whale of a time:

  • Wear polarized sunglasses;
  • Use binoculars only for close-up views,
  • Dress to stay warm and dry.

If you’re traveling on the central coast, stop in Depoe Bay at the Whale Watching Center on the south end of the seawall. Or, visit the center’s website.
Whale Watching Center
Whale Watching Spoken Here sites

Coastal visitor information
Oregon Coast Visitors Association
Central Oregon Coast Visitors Association
Southern Oregon Visitors Association
Travel Oregon – Explore Oregon’s Coast
Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce

Posted on March 17, 2010, in event, state parks and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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