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Whale migration begins as grays head south

FILE PHOTO - Gray whales are migrating south along the Oregon coast for the next few weeks. This week, volunteers will be stationed along the coast to help visitors spot the whales.Gray whales are on the move along the Oregon coast headed south to their winter grounds off Baja California, Mexico.

Trained volunteers will be out in force along the Oregon Coast during the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department annual winter Whale Watching Week, Dec. 27-31.

Volunteers with the Whale Watching Spoken Here program will be stationed at 24 sites, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on those days to share whale watching tips, migration facts and whale feeding habits.

“We’ve already seen the first migrating gray whales in the past few days and we expect another excellent winter whale watching week,” said Luke Parsons, Whale Watching Center ranger. “Last winter our volunteers helped people see more than 1,600 gray whales plus a pod of orcas and some humpback whales spotted on the central coast. You never know what you’re going to see while you’re whale watching, but that’s half the fun.”

The winter migration typically lasts until mid-January. A map of the watch sites is available online at www.whalespoken.org.

Camping, including yurts and cabins, is available at state parks along the coast. Go to www.oregonstateparks.org to check availability and make a reservation.

Travelers are advised to check www.oregonstateparks.org and www.tripcheck.com for weather-related alerts and closures before heading to the coast. Be aware of winter storms and high waves. Respect closures, stay off the sand and watch storms from an elevated location.