Winter and Spring Whale Watch Weeks on the Oregon Coast
Published: 09/13/2011  Updated: 08/15/2019

Visitors can spot migrating Gray Whales with the help of volunteers positioned at 26 sites along the coast during the one-week Whale Watching Spoken Here programs held in March and December. The program, coordinated by Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, offers volunteer interpreters at locations along the coast from Ilwaco, Washington to Crescent City, California. More than 18,000 Gray Whales migrate twice a year and volunteers are on hand to offer whale-watching tips and facts about the whales during their northern and southern migrations.

From March through June, the whales take their northbound journey to Alaska's Bering Sea. Juveniles pass first, followed by adults. Last are the mothers and babies. Many of them come close to shore feeding on Oregon's plentiful food supply. In April and May you may be able to see mothers and calves resting in protected coves close to shore from the warm Pacific waters off Mexico to their feeding grounds in the Arctic Ocean in early spring.

The winter migration spans approximately four weeks from mid-December to mid-January. Most of the whales swim about five miles from the shore, but there are some that move to within one mile of the shore, making them more visible to onlookers. According to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, "During the southern migration, whales seldom stop to eat, but travel steadily to the Baja lagoons of Mexico."

As they swim, Gray Whales blow about every 45 seconds, making it easier for viewers to track their progress through the water. The whales stay under for three to five minutes at a time when they are feeding, but can stay under for as long as 30 minutes. There are some 400 resident whales along the coast that remain all year in their favorite food-rich areas, but for most, the bi-annual migration in spring and winter provides the most opportunities for viewer sightings.

Contact the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay, Oregon at (541) 765-3304 for more information about whale watching programs, sites and volunteer opportunities.
Winter and Spring Whale Watch Weeks on the Oregon Coast