Those living on the Oregon coast have a front-row seat for one of the most spectacular events of the natural world—the migration of gray whales. Each year, thousands of these gentle giants make a roughly 10,000-mile round-trip south from Alaska's Bering and Chukchi seas to the lagoons around Baja California, where they mate and give birth before returning north.
Held at the height of the winter and spring migrations, Whale Watch Week gives landlubbers an opportunity to learn about these aquatic denizens without getting their feet wet. Trained volunteers are on hand at 30 coastal locations during the week, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., to answer questions. An average of 29 whales per hour cruise along the coast during the winter and observers can usually see columns of water spouting 15 feet high as far as five miles out.
"Closer in, you'll be able to see flukes as the whales dive, complex acrobatics with partial leaps out of the water, and spy hops when the whales peek above the water," says Mike Rivers, volunteer coordinator for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department's Whale Watching Program. And best of all, it's free.
Upcoming Whale Watch Weeks will be held December 26 to January 2 and March 23 to 30. Look for signs along the coast that read whale watching spoken here. Appropriate seasonal clothing is highly recommended. For more information, go to www.whalespoken.org.