Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Whale Watching: Oregon’s special seasonal gift

Mother Nature offers an astonishing gift the week between Christmas and New Year’s. That’s when more than 18,000 gray whales cruise down the Oregon Coast to their winter migration destination, the lagoons of Baja, Mexico. 

Trained volunteers are present at 24 parks and viewpoints along the 365-mile coast, offering watching tips and excellent information about these remarkable marine mammals. The state parks department designates these locations as “Whale Watching Spoken Here” sites. The winter (southbound) migration sees the highest concentration of whales—about 30 an hour, and though many of them are out about three to five miles form shore, enough pass close enough to stir excitement and wonder.

The Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay is a great place to stop in for information and spotting advice. It’s open 10 – 4 September to May. Whale watchers are encouraged to report their sightings; the numbers and locations are collected and posted during and after each season. During the 2011 winter migrations, top watching spots included Cape Meares, Cape Ferreio, and Boiler Bay. 

Many Oregon coast state park campgrounds are open year-round. Among them: Cape LookoutCape Kiwanda, and Beverly Beach State Park.

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