Thousands of people from around the world flock to the Oregon Coast to go whale watching each year, as nearly 25,000 gray whales migrate north along the coast toward Alaska. But now, Oregon State Parks have asked volunteers to stay home to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Oregon’s Spring Whale Watching Week was initially set to kick off March 21, with volunteers available to help visitors spot whales and answer questions.
According to Oregon State Parks, more than 52,000 visitors from around the world come to the Oregon coast for whale watching throughout the year. In the spring, up to 2,000 people visit the Depoe Bay Whale Watching Center each day during the weeklong event.
“That’s the main reason we’ve closed it, as well as many of the other visitor centers along the Oregon Coast,” said Luke Parsons, a park ranger with Oregon State Parks.
While stations won’t be manned by volunteers, people can still watch on their own. Patrons have been asked to bring their own binoculars and personal hygiene products before heading out to the coast.
For those self-isolating or in quarantine, there will be an at-home viewing option. Oregon State Parks will have a livestream of the migration on its YouTube channel starting March 21, with whales migrating north through June.