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3 Tips On Spotting A Migrating Gray Whale Along The Oregon Coast This Week

The week between Christmas and New Year's Eve is one of the best times of the year to watch grey whales migrating along the Oregon coast. It's the height of their annual southbound trek from Alaska to Baja, California.

Here are three tips to help better your chances of spotting a grey whale.

1. Look For The Spout of Water

Larry Hinton, a Whale Watch Week volunteer at Boiler Bay State Park in Oregon, says the key to spotting a whale is to keep your eyes peeled for the tell-tale upward spout of water. That's a whale coming up for a big gulp of air, and Hinton says it’s a giveaway.

“We've been out here about 20 minutes, and just a moment ago, my wife and I spotted two that are together,” he said.

2. Be Patient

I headed down the coast a few miles to Depoe Bay, a town that calls itself the whale-watching capital of the Oregon coast. If I couldn't spot a whale there, then I may as well head home.

That’s where I ran into Dan Patillo, who says he's been watching whales for 15 years. He offered up this advice: "Be patient. Wait. Because the whales are coming. So just settle down and relax. No matter if it's raining or sunny, whales are still going to be around,” he said.

3. Look For The Boats

Further down the Depoe Bay seawall, whale watch volunteer Al Wilson had a more practical suggestion: find a whale-watching boat and look just to its side.

And what do you know, that worked. I soon saw a column of water shooting into the air. It was the calling card of a gray whale, halfway through a long journey south in search of warmer waters.

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.