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Whale Watching

People watch for migrating gray whales during the "Whale Watching Spoken Here" event at Shore Acres State Park on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. Gray whales migrate from their summer feeding grounds in Alaska to the warm waters of Mexico's Baja Peninsula to mate and give birth to their young. The whales usually travel within a few miles of shore, making this one of the few whale migrations visible from the shore.

Folks along the coast will be keeping their eyes out for gray whales the week of Dec. 27-31, as the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department will be celebrating its annual Whale Watching Week.

Volunteers from the Whale Watching Spoken Here program will be stationed at 24 sites along the Oregon coast during the event. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day they'll offer whale watching tips and facts about the animals.

The coin-op binoculars at the Umpqua River Lighthouse might soon offer views as nearly 20,000 gray whales swim along the Oregon coast from mid…

Nearly 20,000 gray whales swim along the Oregon coast from mid-December through mid-January as they travel south to the warm lagoons of Baja Mexico. Roughly 30 whales pass by per hour.

There are three major spots on our local section of the coast that will host volunteers to educate folks about the migrating whales. The Umpqua Lighthouse State Park near Winchester Bay, Shore Acres State Park along Cape Arago Highway, and Face Rock viewpoint in Bandon will all be staffed with whale watchers who are part of the Whale Watching Spoken Here group.

The staff at the viewpoints will provide information about gray whales, and hopefully get to point out a few passing by.

The next Whale Watching Week won’t be until the end of March, when the gray whales migrate back to the waters of Alaska for the spring and summer months.

Luke Parsons, an OPRD ranger with the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay, says one of the goals of the event is to create awareness and compassion for whales and other marine life.

"Whales are a special part of the Oregon coast," said Parsons. “We’re very proud to work with our volunteers to help visitors connect with the whales and our oceans.”

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Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at