Whale Watch Week returns live in Oregon after the pandemic
PORTLAND, Ore. –
Oregon Whaling Week is back in person for the first time since the pandemic on Wednesday, drawing visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the annual gray whale migration to the state’s shores.
By early afternoon, more than 500 people had flocked to the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay, where a volunteer armed with binoculars pointed out whales in the distance. A spokesperson for Oregon State Parks, which organized the event, described the audience’s excitement as several people were spotted.
“She saw the spray and called it out,” Stefanie Knowlton told The Associated Press by phone as she watched the center’s volunteers, the cheering crowd in the background. “There’s so much energy. You can really feel that everyone is ready to come back and watch the whales together.”
Volunteers will be at 17 parks along the state’s coast through Sunday to help people spot the nearly 20,000 gray whales that make the annual journey south to Mexico.
One of the sites, Cape Meares, was closed Wednesday after strong winds the previous day toppled trees, Knowlton said.
Oregon State Park hosts whale-watching events twice a year, in the winter for gray whales to migrate south and in the spring for them to return to northern waters near Alaska.
Oregon’s central coast is also a hotspot for whale watching from June to mid-November, when gray whales stay in the state’s coastal waters during their summer migration to shore to feed. according to this agency.