Oregon's Whales

There are a variety of whales you'll find off the coast of Oregon, but we're going to focus on the two you're most likely to spot.

Gray Whale

Eschrichtius robustus

Quick Facts

Size: 40-50 feet
Weight: 30-40 tons
Mates: Baja, Mexico
Feeds: Primarily Alaska
Eats: small crustaceans such as amphipods and mysid shrimp, tube worms
Speed: 3-6 MPH
Lifespan: Estimated 50-70 years

The most commonly spotted whale off the Oregon coast is the gray whale, sometimes called (incorrectly) the California gray whale. Gray whales migrate up to 14,000 miles between Baja and Alaska each year, however, several hundred don’t make it all the way to Alaska and instead will spend their summers off our coast feeding in our nutrient rich waters.

Like all baleen whales, the females are bigger than the males, sometimes reaching lengths of 50 feet.

Humpback Whale

Megaptera novaeangliae

Quick Facts

Size: 48-62 feet
Weight: 25-40 tons
Mates: Varies by subset
Feeds: Varies by subset
Eats: krill, small shrimp-like crustaceans, and various kinds of small fish
Speed: 3-9 MPH
Lifespan: Estimated 45-50 years

We tend to see humpbacks more on the central and norther coast, often fairly near shore as well. Humpbacks are rarer to find than gray whales, but tend to breach more and also flip up their massive tail flukes more often. 

 

Other Whales Off Oregon

And a couple of non-whales too

The adjacent list are some of the less commonly found whales that you might also come across. Blue, Fin, Sei, and Sperm whales are likely to be found much further from shore but killer whales and harbor porpoises can be found right off shore.

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