Oregon Spring Whale Watching Week 2024

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Scientists are not sure why whales breach. They speculate that they do it to remove parasites, communicate with each other, or just do it for fun. Young gray whales along the Oregon coast seem to breach more frequently.
Breaching Gray Whale

Oregon Spring Whale Watching Week 2024

Whale’s Tail Charters welcomes you to Oregon Spring Whale Watching Week starting March 23, 2024. This means it is time for the gray whales to make their annual northerly migration.

During this time of the year, whale watching along the Oregon coast is some of the finest opportunities to view the gray whale migration.

Researchers estimate that 15,000 gray whales now live in the eastern north Pacific area. About 20 whales per hour migrate past Depoe Bay during the peak northbound migration.

Throughout February and March, the first to leave the lagoons are males and females. Nursing mothers with their newborns are the last to depart. These whales leave only when their calves are ready for the journey, which is usually from late March to May.

The gray whales fluke is about 10 feet across, pointed at the tips, and deeply notched in the center.
Gray whale showing flukes
Whales will poke their heads above the surface in order to get a better view of their surroundings, a maneuver known as spyhopping. Spyhopping is a behavior exhibited by cetaceans, such as the gray whale above, and some sharks. When whales spyhops it vertically pokes its head out of the water.
Gray Whale Spyhopping

Gray Whale Migration

During the migration gray whales travel about 3-6 miles per hour, and cover about 100 miles a day. It takes them an average of 50-60 days to travel back up to Alaska.

Along the coast of Oregon, gray whales will migrate within 2-5 miles of the shore. Gray whales may pay more attention to water depth than distance from shore.

The coastline may help them navigate the long distance, and being benthic (bottom) feeders, they have evolved with an orientation toward the seafloor where their food is located.

Resident Gray Whales

One thing to keep in mind, some of the best whale watching in Depoe Bay is from June through October. Some gray whales do not continue to Alaskan waters but stay off the coast of Depoe Bay during the summer months.

This is when our resident whales have returned and taken up residence. As summer approaches we see more and more of our resident gray whales show up.

These resident gray whales stay close to shore to feed in and around the kelp beds on mysid shrimp. Gray whales can eat 2,000 pounds a day of shrimp like amphipods.

Gray whales have no teeth, they strain their food through a baleen, which hangs from the roof of the mouth. Grays whales are the only bottom feeding whales. When they feed, a whale dives to the bottom, rolls on its right side and gulps mouthfuls of their food.

Gray whales can dive for up to 30 minutes and go 500 feet deep. They can swim in even relatively shallow water without running aground.
Gray whale getting ready for a deep dive

For Your Consideration

During this time of the year ocean conditions can be a factor, you must be prepared for a variety of weather conditions. High temperatures average between 50°-60° and rain can be a possibility. While the typical forecast may be overcast and showery, we often experience beautiful clear days that are sometimes very warm. The ocean conditions can be nice or very rough with high seas and strong winds.

Reservations are recommended to maximize your chances of getting the day and time you prefer. When you book online, we ask that you give us a call a day or two before your trip to check on ocean conditions. If we determine that it is too rough for our customers, you can get a full refund or reschedule for another day. Our priority is the safety of our passengers.