One of the most amazing wildlife encounters we can have is watching whales. The fact they are mammals who breath air, living in an environment so alien to ours, their sheer size and unique behaviors make them fascinating animals to observe. Oregon has excellent whale watching opportunities.
Whales have the same needs we do — to eat, rest, choose mates and raise their young. Whale watching guidelines and laws help prevent disturbance and disruption of these important life functions.
The most non-disruptive method is to watch whales from shore. You can find some suggested land-based whale watching sites on both The Whale Trail and Oregon State Parks websites. Whale watching from vessels (boats, kayaks, paddleboards) should not interrupt the whale’s normal behavior/activity and must follow the regulations and guidelines.
If you are interested in a tour, do your research to choose a responsible operator committed to following the regulations and guidelines. Ask the company what they are doing to minimize their potential impacts and how they are contributing to conservation efforts for the whales and ecosystem.
Dos and don’ts include: do be quiet, always attempt to stay 100 yards away from a whale, if a calf is present stay beyond 150 yards, go slow and parallel to the whale; don’t chase whales, get between whales; don’t pull in front of or behind the whale nor move into the path of a whale. Admire at a safe distance, without disturbance, to enjoy the thrill of responsible whale watching.