Trained Volunteers Will Not Be Stationed at Viewing Sites for March’s Whale Watching Week

Staffing shortages continue to challenge the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, but Depoe Bay’s Whale Watch Center should reopen soon.

Oregon State University researchers are studying gray whales along the Oregon Coast.

Another whale watching season is about to begin along the Oregon Coast without one of its most popular features: guided assistance. But this time COVID is not the cause.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department announced today that it will host Spring Whale Week next month, but trained volunteers are not scheduled to be on location to help people spot spouts and dorsal fins from the shore. The Whale Watch Center in Depoe Bay, a popular tourist destination, also remains closed.

Newport-based park ranger Luke Parsons tells WW that the limited services are due to ongoing staff shortages—a challenge that land and park agencies across the state have faced since the initial pandemic shutdown in spring 2020.

However, the Whale Watch Center should be reopening soon. Oregon Parks and Rec says that it’s targeting April.

With no posted volunteers at viewing sites, OPRD is bringing back the popular whale watching livestream on the Oregon State Parks YouTube channel. You can catch those from 10 am to 2 pm daily, March 21-25.

There are also plenty of open-air perches along the Pacific where you can keep an eye out for gray whales migrating to cool Alaskan waters, including Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, Boiler Bay, or even the lobby of the Inn at Spanish Head in Lincoln City if you want to get out of the elements. There is a list of two-dozen locations on the Oregon State Parks website.

Some 25,000 whales will pass by Oregon’s shores from late March through June—many will be accompanied by their calves, which were born during winter in Baja, Mexico’s warm lagoons.