COOS BAY — Over the weekend, folks young and old went out to Shore Acres State Park to catch a glimpse of the gray whales as they migrate south for the winter.
Veteran Whale watchers Bea and Dave Bone were scanning the waters at the Shore Acres Observation room providing information on the gray whales to anyone interested. They’re affiliated with the group Whale Watching Spoken Here which has volunteers at 24 spots in Oregon.
“We’ve been working with this program for 22 years. Whale Watching Spoken here is sponsored by the park, and Oregon State University, and the Bureau of Land Management,” Dave Bone said.
Whale Watching Spoken Here has been setup along the Oregon coast for the past week, watching the water for spouts. By 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Bone had spotted seven whales.
“Wednesday we saw 30, that’s when we start feeling like we’ve had a good day. This time of year there’s about 29 an hour passing by. We have had three cases where we’ve been out for five hours and actually averaged that many,” Bone said.
Another couple from Bandon standing around the Shore Acres observation room with their eyes glued to their binoculars said that they had been whale watching as a hobby for the past 48 years.
One thing the Shore Acres watch site had, that according to Bone many others don’t have, is a show and tell display that included whale bones and specimens Mice Head Shrimp that the whales eat.
“They’ll eat like 2,600 pounds of a day. I would have to eat 80 quarter-pound hamburgers a day to eat at the same rate as they do,” Bone said.
For many hobbyist whale watchers the biggest thrill isn’t actually seeing the whales themselves, but rather sharing the experience with someone else.
Bandon resident, and 48-year whale watcher Grant Webb said, “After all these years I still like seeing whales, but it’s great when somebody’s never seen one before. They just get so excited. Eighty year olds get just as excited as kids.”