Visitor Center: Little Red Caboose at 103 S. 1st St. & Hwy 101 in Downtown Rockaway Beach
The Rockaway Beach Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center is operated 100% by volunteers.
Gray, humpback, and sperm whales begin their annual migration from the icy waters of Alaska to the mating and birthing grounds in the warmer lagoons of Mexico in December. And their return to the Arctic waters starts in March.
Although it is the fall and spring that presents the greatest opportunity to whale watch, gray whales may possibly be seen year round on the Oregon coastline.
Grays are the largest species, reaching at least 35 feet in length and weighing more than 30 tons (10 times the size of a large elephant) and their coloring is a bluish white.
What to look for:
1. Scan the horizon for spouting or blow (vapor, water, or condensation blown into the air up to 12 feet when the whale exhales). When the late afternoon sun is backlighting the whales, it is easier to spot them.
2. Once you locate a spout or blow, stay with it. Where you see one blow, you will see others, either from the same whale or other whales.
3. Whales have periodic blow patterns during their migration.
4. Usually only a small portion of a whale’s head and back show during a blow.
5. Spy-hopping is a term applied to a whale with its head partially out of the water in a vertical posture, frequently bringing the eye above the surface to see better.
6. Breaching (whales clear leap out of the water), flukes and tails.
What to Bring: Appropriate clothing (be prepared for stormy weather) and binoculars really help.
Where to Go: Some charter boat services offer whale watching trips. Sightings from the beach are possible, but scenic vistas greatly increase the chances of seeing these magnificent animals. The following locations have been proven to be excellent whale watching sites:
Ecola State Park
Neahkahnie Mountain Historic Marker Turnout on Highway 101
Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint
Cape Lookout State Park – 2.5 mile hike to site at the tip of the Cape