Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Whale Watching Tips

People ask, "what do I look for?"

The best way to see a whale is to find a nice place to sit.  In other words you want to sit down, relax, and stay a while!   Let your eyes adjust to the look of the ocean profile, that way you will quickly notice when it changes.
In the month of May when the females are migrating north very close to the shore, focus out about 150 - 200 feet past the breakers.  Just scan the surface of the ocean with your eyes, back and forth.  When a whale is passing by you will usually notice the spout first!   You will see water spraying straight up, and when you see this, look for the whale.  Shortly you will be able to see the body of the whale just below the surface of the water, and you will see glimpses of her back as she swims in the rocking fashion.

If you are lucky, you may see the whale and her calf (sometimes several of both) stop and play, roll, dive, and even peek up out of the water to see what is above the surface of the ocean.   That is the special part of whale watching, and there are some known areas where this happens frequently.  Often they have a favorite place along the shoreline where the water is shallow and they can scrape along the bottom sand.  These are the spots that are the most fun for whale watchers because you can often see the whole body of the whale and even see some great maneuvers from time to time.

I usually see the whales in the late afternoon / early evening.  I think this is because the water is often very calm at that time, and the surface is like glass.  It is much easier to see the ripples and dimpled surface that sometimes happens when a whale is spending a little bit of time in that spot.  But your eye can catch the sight of a spout or a large black area just under the water when the sea is glass-like.

It is a waiting game to see a whale, so best to settle down in the early evening and just wait.  Hopefully your patience will be rewarded!   There is something rather mystical about seeing the huge creatures gliding effortlessly over and through the water, especially in May when they are often so close to shore.  You realize why so many books, songs, poems, and paintings speak of the whale and the awesome sight of one of these amazing creatures.

Good luck, and in this second week of May I have seen one whale off of Nesika Beach, very close to shore, and two in Yachats, just a little bit further out, but these two performed all kinds of movements for me from rolling, slapping the water with that huge tail and more.  Yes, after all these years it still takes my breath away, and makes me feel that something just a little bit special has happened to me that day.

Come to the coast in May, and stay at one of our wonderful homes, at Wild Coast Vacations by the sea.


Monday, May 9, 2011


May on the coast of Oregon:

Gold Beach annual WINE, ART, AND MUSIC FESTIVAL is Saturday May 14 from 11-7, and Sunday May 15 from noon - 5.    Come on over for this fun event, and take advantage of the WHALE OF A SPECIAL, read about it at the bottom of this post.

Mid May watch for the whales!   Mid May is the time we often see the female whales with their offspring, heading north for the summer.   This is one of my favorite whale watching times because during this trip the female whales hug the coastline, making up-close and special viewings.

From my own backyard I have seen whales so close that I could almost (it seems) reach out and touch them.  I live along the beach in Nesika Beach, where the whales swim so close to shore and in such shallow water.  You can see the detail of their body, you can see the mother and the calf, you can see as they roll over and play, when they swat their tail on the water, when they dive to feed.   It is hard to get a photo of this experience  because it is fleeting, and you never know when they will appear.  But above is one shot I managed to get of the female peering above the water.

Come to the coast to witness this very special whale migration, I will give you a location where I often see whales very close to shore.  Ask for the Whale of a Special, with weekday discounts of up to 20% (depends on the house) and weekend discount of up to 15% between good whale watching dates of May 5 through May 21.   Bring a canned food for our local foodbank to take advantage of this Special!   (See website for details).