Growing up most boys become fascinated with dinosaurs or race cars but for some reason I became fascinated with whales. I have never really figured out what drew me to them but in the years since childhood I have stayed just as captivated. I have gone whale watching in both the Pacific, Hawaii and Atlantic, Massachusetts. Yet my first time ever seeing a whale off the coast of Oregon was January 2nd this year. I had let too many trips to the coast past me by and made the somewhat nerdy proclamation that my new year’s resolution would be to “see more whales.”

So I set off on the second knowing that the Oregon Coast saw the majority of its migrating Gray Whales during December and January. As I entered the Oregon Parks Whale Watching Center in the middle of Depoe Bay (the self proclaimed whale watching capital of Oregon), I was welcomed by two park guides who told me about the long history of the area and the migrating whales of the Oregon coast. The centers two guides sat next to me as I stared intently out the viewing windows with a pair of binoculars being instructed on where to look for the whales. During my short time at the center I saw four whales and a total of 41 had been seen that day by noon.

Depoe Bay is not only known for its whales but it also has the world’s smallest harbor where on many occasions I have spotted a relaxed harbor seal (the same size as normal harbor seals). Being located between Newport and Lincoln City, Depoe Bay is a great place to relax, shop and reminisce about your childhood.

Editor’s Note: Connor is a freelance writer and photographer who describes himself as an “adventurous, explorative spirit” who has a craving for getting to “know his surroundings”. When he’s not fly-fishing, backpacking or rock climbing, you can find him writing on his blog, Be sure to read Beach Safety rules before you venture out on the coast.

about author Connor O'Brien

Connor O’Brien is a Portland- based, second-generation photographer specializing in Adventure Sports, Outdoor Lifestyle and Assignment & Editorial Photography. Having lived in places as far reaching as Australia and as close to home as Massachusetts, Texas, Wisconsin and Minnesota, he has used the varying landscape and the people as inspiration in his photographs. Moving to Oregon many moons ago, Connor has been fortunate enough to experience some of the unspoiled beauties of the west with his camera in hand. Beginning his career as a freelance writer and photographer in Oregon, he continues to visually describe the landscape he visits throughout his work. Whether it be capturing new ascents on remote crags or following trails down lost canyons, his love and passion for the outdoors has led his photographic development to where it is today.

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These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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  1. First signs of spring, at the Coast | PNW Photoblog says…

    [...] out far enough into the ocean that in addition to providing a great place for nesting sea birds, migrating whales frequently pass by. This in addition to a native pod of Gray Whales. For close up looks it’s [...]

    Written on February 9th, 2009 / Flag this Comment
  2. Gary says…

    Great post and enjoyed the reading, glad to see somebody loves Depoe Bay and the fantastic whale watching. I have started a Facebook Page and Group for whale watching in Depoe Bay. Also just started our web site at

    Thanks again for the great post.

    Written on February 16th, 2011 / Flag this Comment
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