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Watchers ready to spy whales.

Byline: Jeff Wright The Register-Guard

If it's Christmas week on the Oregon Coast, then it's time for many of the natives to start speaking a different tongue.

Up and down the coast this Wednesday through Sunday, "Whale Watching Spoken Here" signs will be visible at 24 locations where hundreds will gather in hopes of spying gray whales on their winter migration to warmer waters.

The locales range from the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment in southern Washington to the Ninth Street Beach in Crescent City, Calif. - with 22 locations along the Oregon coastline in between. The whale watching sites are staffed between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day.

About 18,000 gray whales are expected to pass by during a four-week stretch that began in mid-December and will continue to mid-January. As many as 30 whales pass by each hour.

Because of stormy weather, the main body of whales is typically about 5 miles offshore, but some can be seen as close as 1 to 2 miles offshore.

The whale watching program began in 1978 when Don Giles of the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport thought up the idea as two co-workers were counting migrating gray whales pass the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Because the program's main emphasis is on volunteers meeting and greeting visitors, the phrase "Whale Watching Spoken Here" was coined.

The program, which relies on about 450 volunteers, is believed to be the largest whale watching organization in the world. Many volunteers, some from out of state, return yearly to share their enthusiasm about whales.

The next volunteer trainings are Jan. 12 at the Port Orford Library and Feb. 9 at Nehalem Bay State Park. A similar whale-watching effort takes place each spring as the gray whales migrate back north.

Because of weather and other conditions, the number of whales spotted on any particular day can vary dramatically. For example, last winter not a single whale was spotted on Dec. 28, but 277 were spotted on Dec. 31. Over six days last December, 7,044 visitors stopped by the whale-watching sites, spotting a total of 590 whales.

The whale watching "experts" advise to bring binoculars and dress for the weather. Focus your binoculars and have them ready, but watch with your eyes: When you spot a whale's blow, bring up your binos for a closer look.

If it's Christmas week on the Oregon Coast, then it's time for many of the natives to start speaking a different tongue.

Up and down the coast this Wednesday through Sunday, "Whale Watching Spoken Here" signs will be visible at 24 locations where hundreds will gather in hopes of spying gray whales on their winter migration to warmer waters.

The locales range from the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment in southern Washington to the Ninth Street Beach in Crescent City, Calif. - with 22 locations along the Oregon coastline in between. The whale watching sites are staffed between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day.

About 18,000 gray whales are expected to pass by during a four-week stretch that began in mid-December and will continue to mid-January. As many as 30 whales pass by each hour.

Because of stormy weather, the main body of whales is typically about 5 miles offshore, but some can be seen as close as 1 to 2 miles offshore.

The whale watching program began in 1978 when Don Giles of the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport thought up the idea as two co-workers were counting migrating gray whales pass the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Because the program's main emphasis is on volunteers meeting and greeting visitors, the phrase "Whale Watching Spoken Here" was coined.

The program, which relies on about 450 volunteers, is believed to be the largest whale watching organization in the world. Many volunteers, some from out of state, return yearly to share their enthusiasm about whales.

The next volunteer trainings are Jan. 12 at the Port Orford Library and Feb. 9 at Nehalem Bay State Park. A similar whale-watching effort takes place each spring as the gray whales migrate back north.

Because of weather and other conditions, the number of whales spotted on any particular day can vary dramatically. For example, last winter not a single whale was spotted on Dec. 28, but 277 were spotted on Dec. 31. Over six days last December, 7,044 visitors stopped by the whale-watching sites, spotting a total of 590 whales.

The whale watching "experts" advise to bring binoculars and dress for the weather. Focus your binoculars and have them ready, but watch with your eyes: When you spot a whale's blow, bring up your binos for a closer look.

If it's Christmas week on the Oregon Coast, then it's time for many of the natives to start speaking a different tongue.

Up and down the coast this Wednesday through Sunday, "Whale Watching Spoken Here" signs will be visible at 24 locations where hundreds will gather in hopes of spying gray whales on their winter migration to warmer waters.

The locales range from the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment in southern Washington to the Ninth Street Beach in Crescent City, Calif. - with 22 locations along the Oregon coastline in between.

The whale watching sites are staffed between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day.

About 18,000 gray whales are expected to pass by during a four-week stretch that began in mid-December and will continue to mid-January. As many as 30 whales pass by each hour.

Because of stormy weather, the main body of whales is typically about 5 miles offshore, but some can be seen as close as 1 to 2 miles offshore.

The whale watching program began in 1978 when Don Giles of the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport thought up the idea as two co-workers were counting migrating gray whales passing the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Because the program's main emphasis is on volunteers meeting and greeting visitors, the phrase "Whale Watching Spoken Here" was coined.

The program, which relies on about 450 volunteers, is believed to be the largest whale watching organization in the world. Many volunteers, some from out of state, return yearly to share their enthusiasm about whales.

The next volunteer trainings are Jan. 12 at the Port Orford Library and Feb. 9 at Nehalem Bay State Park.

A similar whale watching effort takes place each spring as the gray whales migrate back north.

Because of weather and other conditions, the number of whales spotted on any particular day can vary dramatically.

For example, last winter not a single whale was spotted on Dec. 28, but 277 were spotted on Dec. 31.

During six days last December, 7,044 visitors stopped by the whale watching sites, spotting a total of 590 whales.

The whale watching "experts" advise people to bring binoculars and dress for the weather.

Focus your binoculars and have them ready, but watch with your eyes: When you spot a whale's blow, bring up your binoculars for a closer look.

WHALE WATCHING SPOKEN HERE

Sites staffed by volunteers from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday

Cape Disappointment

Ecola State Park

Neahkahnie Mountain Overlook

Cape Meares Lighthouse

Cape Lookout State Park

Cape Kiwanda

Inn at Spanish Head

Boiler Bay State Park

Depoe Bay Seawall

Rocky Creek

Cape Foulweather Overlook

Devils Punchbowl

Yaquina Head

Don Davis City Park, Newport

Cape Perpetua Interpretive Center

Cook's Chasm

Sea Lion Caves Turnout

Umpqua Lighthouse

Shore Acres State Park

Face Rock

Battle Rock

Cape Ferrelo Overlook

Harris Beach State Park

Ninth Street Beach, Crescent City

Cape Perpetua Visitor Center: "Experiencing Gray Whales," a presentation by interpretive naturalist Michael Noack, will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday

More information: www.oregon.gov/oprd/parks/whalewatchingcenter
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Title Annotation:Local News; As many as 30 gray whales an hour pass by viewing sites manned by volunteers along the Oregon coastline
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Geographic Code:1U9OR
Date:Dec 25, 2012
Words:1298
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