Spring Whale Watching Season Quick Guide

Photo Credit: Whale Spoken Here

Spring Whale Watching Season Quick Guide

Spring is just around the corner and with spring comes the whale migration. During this annual migration about 18,000 gray whales pass just off the coast of Oregon. Yes, you read that right, 18,000! While there are some resident gray whales that stay year round just off the coast, this is the one of the best time to see them. During this time mother grays heading north tend to stay closer to shore with their young, which makes land based spotting much easier.

While the majority of cetaceans(marine mammal) involved in the spring migration the Oregon Coastline are gray whales, there are plenty of other species to watch out for any time you are on the coast.

Orcas– While they are spotted year round, spring tends to be the best time of year to spot Orcas.  This is when you will see them hunting along the coastline. Orcas tend to be spotted more in the area from Newport to Depoe Bay. From time to time they do venture into the bays especially Yaquina Bay in Newport.

Photo: Unknown

Minke– Reaching about 35 feet in length and feeding in the same areas as gray whales, the way to tell the difference is their white underside.

 

 

 

 

 

Blue– The mighty blue stays far offshore, 10 miles or more and are rarely seen closer to shore.

Humpback– Generally seen to 5 to 15 miles out at sea.

Dall’s Porpoise– Living only in the North Pacific this black and white porpoise can swim up to 35 miles per hour.

Harbor Porpoise– This small cetacean tends to stay close to shore and is a little timid.

 

Great Places To Spot Cetaceans On The Central Coast

  • The Whale Watching Center/Depoe Bay Sea Wall
  • Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint
  • Cape Foulweather
  • Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area
  • Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area
  • Don Davis City Park
  • Cape Perpetua Interpretive Center
  • Cook’s Chasm Turnout
  • Sea Lion Caves Turnout – at the turnout south of the tunnel

 

Keep your eyes on the horizon and be on the lookout for the spray. Happy watching!

 

Hope Springs!!

One of the many definitions of the word spring is, “to be released suddenly from a constrained position.” In the dictionary, this is referring to a door being sprung open, but you could also relate it to the changing of the seasons from Winter to Spring. Those long, cold months held up inside have been very relaxing, but eventually the birds start chirping louder, the days get longer, and it’s time to escape our fleece sheets and hot cocoa hibernation in anticipation of all the new delights ahead. Hope springs…

For those fortunate enough to live near the mighty Pacific, or to make a visit to the Central Oregon coast, springtime affords the opportunity to escape the doldrums of winter and seek new adventures on its shores. This got me thinking of an old quote from a Stephen King book about the Pacific Ocean:
“You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific? They say it has no memory. That’s where I want to live the rest of my life. A warm place with no memory.”

The Pacific may indeed have no memory, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make memories of your own. One such destination to do so is the lovely central Oregon coast. We are particularly fond of Yachats and Waldport, but you can’t go wrong anywhere along this beautiful stretch of coastline.

The central coast region, from Newport in the North to Florence to the South, is full of options for travelers of all ages and interests. Everyone knows about the great beaches — both sandy ones that are perfect for strolling, running, kite flying, and wave watching, and rocky ones that often boast great tide pooling opportunities to find the perfect agate or silver dollar seashell — but there’s room for more imagination during springtime at the coast.

If the sight of mammoth sea creatures is your thing, spring marks the start of some terrific opportunities to spot gray whales making their way North. From March 22-30, visitors can take part in the Spring Whale Watch Spoken Here program coordinated by the Oregon Parks and Recreation department. The Spoken Here program has been around for more than 30 years so the chances of spotting a whale are pretty good as trained volunteers are placed at 24 sites up and down the coast from Washington to Crescent City, California to help onlookers hopefully catch a glimpse of the whales and you can bet there’s plenty of spots in Oregon as well. From the Sea Lion Caves to Cook’s Chasm to Don Davis Park, visitors to the area can look forward to many prime whale watching spots.

While that particular week is best for seeing a heard of gray whales specifically, thanks to the experienced guides, there are plenty of other migrating grays and other fish in the sea. North of Yachats is Depoe Bay, which is home to the Whale Watching Center. Located north of the Depoe Bay Bridge, the center informs visitors on how to observe whale migration as well as provides information about the history and environmental influences on the different species of Pacific whales.

If a hands-on approach is more to your liking, the Waldport Bay, Newport Bay, and Depoe Bay areas all have whale watching and fishing trips available as well. What could be better than a day on the high seas with expert sailors to guide your tour? It’s so exciting that even Jack Nicholson and a bunch of fellow patients decided to take a trip out of Depoe Bay in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

And perhaps when your attention isn’t directed at the whales (I know, it’s hard), you can stop by other attractions and scenic areas such as Strawberry Hill for a terrific sunset, Devil’s Churn to gain an appreciation for the power of the Pacific’s waves (don’t be scared off by the name), and various campgrounds in case you feel that springtime need to pitch a tent and breathe in deeply the sights, sounds, and smells of renewal.

Spring is here, and we wish you a season filled with invigoration, renewal, and joy! And remember that Sweet Homes Rentals is here to help if you or your family or friends would like to enjoy the coast from a beautiful beachside home, or sit in a hot tub overlooking the Pacific. The hot bubbly water may steam up your binocular lenses, so you’ll just have to pull yourself away from whale watching long enough to enjoy a good relaxing soak!