Gray Whale: Giant of the Pacific
Published: 06/25/2012  Updated: 08/08/2019

Weighing nearly 40 tons and reaching lengths of up to 50 feet, Gray Whales are about the size of a bus! These giants of the Pacific embark twice a year on one of the longest migrations of any creature on earth, a journey that can be observed from the shores of the Pacific Northwest if you know when and where to watch.

In late fall, Gray Whales leave their feeding grounds in cold Arctic seas to breed in the warm waters off Mexico's west coast. They return north in the spring, a round trip of some 12,500 miles. The winter migration, typically mid-December to mid-January, has the highest number of whales with the possibility of spotting up to 30 whales per hour.

There are lots of great places along the Oregon Coast and Washington Coast to spot these giants of the sea, some of our favorites include: Cape Disappointment in Ilwaco, Washington on the Long Beach Peninsula, and in Oregon at Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach, the turnouts along Highway 101 at Neahkahnie Mountain north of Manzanita, Cape Lookout south of Tillamook, Cape Meares west of Tillamook, Depoe Bay and Yaquina Head north of Newport.

Twice a year, a program coordinated by the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation called Whale Watching Spoken Here assists whale watchers in spotting the gentle giants. Trained volunteers are available at dozens of the coast's best whale watching locations during the peak of the migration to answer questions and hand out educational literature. The winter program takes place one week in December each year and the spring program occurs one week in March.

For more information on the Whale Watching Spoken Here program, visit the website at
Gray Whale: Giant of the Pacific