Each year near the end of June the Eastern gray whale returns to the Oregon Coast to feed, giving viewers the opportunity to watch their magnificent forms weave gracefully among the waves. Though the Western gray whales that reside along the East Coast are in imminent danger of becoming extinct, the Eastern gray whale population has successfully bounced back from over-hunting.
These whales have returned to their previous plentiful numbers, and nearby are opportunities to see them as close as half a mile off the shore in ideal visual conditions. Wildlife regulations demand a 100-foot distance, but beyond that, the smaller the boat the more intimate the encounter.
Depoe Bay boasts a variety of options to explore when checking out the incredible flora and fauna available for your viewing pleasure this season. Whale’s Tail’s original charter offers a Zodiac for a close and memorable experience. These trips run at $35 per person. Though the boats depart five times daily, the company advises customers to reserve their trips in advance.
For a more educational viewing experience, Captain Carrie Newell, a marine biology professor, and her team of naturalists provide a unique opportunity to enter the realm of the whales. These trips run at $40 per person, with an option for special request bookings for parties of four or more. Her “whale research EcoExcursions” allow passengers to get up close and personal, quite literally—having completed her graduate work on the gray whales that make Depoe Bay their home, Newell knows each of the whales by name.
For the more land-bound visitor, the Depoe Bay Whale Watching Center off Highway 101 offers excellent views from the comfort of indoors.
By Ariadne Wolf