Whale watching starts

Oregon's annual whale watch week begins Sunday on the coast.

Whales are on their way from summer feeding areas in Bering and Chukchi seas off Alaska to their breeding and calving lagoons along the Baja Coast south of California.

Trained volunteers will be at 26 "Whale Watching Spoken Here" sites from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily to help visitors spot as many as possible through Jan. 1.

Marine mammal experts estimate that the migration now includes 18,000 whales. With most of the whales are traveling three to five miles offshore, visitors are advised to bring binoculars.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department coordinates the winter and spring whale watch weeks in partnership with Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center and Marine Mammal Institute, the University of Oregon's Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, and Washington State Parks, which operates the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

The closest sites to the Rogue Valley are Cape Sebastian, Cape Ferrelo, Harris Beach State Park in Brookings and 9th Street Beach in Crescent City, Calif. A map of the official viewpoints is online at www.whalespoken.org.

— Staff reports

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