There are few natural events which can thrill onlookers more than the glimpse of a gray whale breaking the ocean’s surface. The sight of water jetting from a blowhole, a raised fluke, or a breaching whale can stir-up audible gasps and cheers from those watching on shore. Cape Arago and Shore Acres State Parks located near Charleston, OR invites visitors to experience the spring whale migration during Whale Watching Week from March 25 – March 31, 2017. Those two specific areas will have volunteers on site from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.
From the comfort of lookout points at Shore Acres State Park and nearby Simpson’s Reef area, visitors can ask questions, use a telescope or share binoculars with trained volunteers from the Whale Watching Spoken Here Program. This network of volunteers and enthusiasts have a genuine interest in these ocean mammals, sharing their knowledge with visitors at 24 different sites along the Oregon Coast during migration periods. Those who like to hike can choose from several trails marked along the Cape Arago Highway which stretches through Charleston to the end of the Cape Arago State Park. Adventurous visitors can discover their own favorite viewpoints along these paths, between trees and ferns that canopy the oceanside clifftops. It will help to have binoculars handy, take caution with your footing, and watch the water for signs of activity.
Baby On Board
The spring migration lasts through June, as the whales pass along the Oregon coastline making their way to Alaska. Feeding over the winter months in the warmer waters of Mexico, whales will head north with brand new members to their pods. Calves will be accompanying their mothers, taking the long-established migration route for the first time. This makes for an unpredictable show, as energetic calves test the waters under and around their 30-40 ton mothers. The presence of calves also encourages extended stops during their journey in order to rest, feed, and play. This pace gives more opportunities for people to fall in love with whale watching as they observe calf and female frolic between the rolling whitecaps.
Patience and Payoff
Whale watching doesn’t require any special equipment or skill, just a parka for spotty weather and patience. There is no guarantee every visit will be successful, but once you see your first whale the moment stays with you. Remember to catch your breath and cheer along with your fellow whale watchers when that mottled gray takes shape above the blue ocean. The payoff for a brief sighting can be a lifetime appreciation and awe for these extraordinary creatures.
Take advantage of mild spring temperatures on the Southern Oregon Coast and plan to spend a morning or afternoon exploring the state parks near Charleston, OR. If you would like more information about Whale Watching Week or the Shore Acres State Park, contact the park office at 541-888-3732.