Plenty of whales headed our way.
Three things tend to predict how many whale sightings will be recorded during the biannual whale watch weeks sponsored by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
The first is how many whales are out there. The second, how much coastal fog obstructs a view of them. And, finally, whether people actually show up to catch a glimpse.
There's good news about the first part of that equation, according to the state.
Record numbers of gray whales have been spotted heading north in the annual migration toward feeding grounds in Alaska. And that could mean ample opportunities to spot them during spring whale watch week, which begins Saturday.
The number of gray whales typically peaks during the last week in March. More than 200 volunteers will staff 24 "Whale Watching Spoken Here" sites on the coast between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. every day of whale watch week, Saturday through March 31. Volunteers will answer questions and help visitors spot one or more of the 18,000 gray whales who are on the long journey from breeding grounds in Baja to the Bering Sea.
The parks department's Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay also will be open from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. each day of whale watching week. And the Oregon State University Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport offers presentations that include children's storytimes.
This time of year most of the whales can be spotted about one to three miles offshore, although visitors also can look closer to shore for the occasional whale searching for food or an early mother and calf, according to the parks department.
Clear days with calm wind and seas are the easiest times to spot the whales, parks officials said.
For more information and a map of the viewpoints, visit www.whale spoken .org.
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|Title Annotation:||Local News; Just in time for spring break's whale watch week, record numbers of gray whales have been spotted|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Mar 23, 2012|
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