Whale Watching Starts Saturday With 14,500 Gray Whales Migrating Close to Oregon’s Coast

gray whale oregon coast
A Gray Whale breaches off the Oregon coast. Photo / Courtesy of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department

This spring, Oregon's State Parks are celebrating the season with a specially extended Whale Watching Week, promising an unforgettable experience. From the 23rd to the 31st of March, enthusiasts are invited to the Oregon Coast to witness the impressive gray whales as they journey north from Mexico with their young calves in tow.

Each day between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., knowledgeable volunteers will be stationed across 15 coastal viewpoints, ready to direct visitors' attention to these magnificent creatures as they migrate towards the cooler waters of Alaska. This year's event as announced by Oregon State Parks, has been expanded by three days and comes on the heels of uplifting news from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). After a concerning number of deaths beginning in 2019, the gray whale Unusual Mortality Event has been declared over by NOAA, offering a gleam of hope for the species' future.

NOAA Fisheries' spokesperson, Michael Milstein, delivered optimistic updates, stating, "Recent surveys suggest that the gray whale population is on the mend and starting to recover. Now is an ideal time for observing these whales, especially the newborn calves, as they head north to feed." This positive change is underscored by a dramatic increase in calf sightings – around 412 last year, almost double the number from the year before, according to Oregon State Parks.

This migration period is expected to bring about 14,500 gray whales close to Oregon's coast. "The spring season is excellent for whale watching, as the gray whales tend to travel nearer to the shoreline, about a mile out, making them easier to spot. Plus, the weather conditions are often more favorable," stated Park Ranger Peter McBride, highlighting the optimal viewing opportunities. He also reminds visitors to come prepared for any weather, just in case.

As this event draws near, local businesses along the scenic Highway 101 are gearing up for an influx of visitors keen to catch a sight of these sea giants. This blend of natural marvel and tourism is set to revitalize the quiet beachfront towns, offering a unique experience to all who venture to the coast.

Hit the link here to read on about the best parks to visit and more details on spring watching in Oregon!

Where to Stay

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