The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is seeking whale-lovers to participate in its Whale Watching Spoken Here program. The program places trained volunteers at 24 whale-watching sites along the Oregon coast during winter and spring watch weeks, when approximately 20,000 gray whales migrate on their way to and from feeding areas off the Alaska coast and birthing areas near Baja, Mexico.
Volunteers who complete the one-day training may select a whale-watching site where they will be stationed to assist visitors in spotting gray whales and maintain a count of whales spotted. The dates for upcoming whale watching weeks are Dec. 27-31, 2016, and March 25-31, 2017.
New this year, volunteers may register for the training online at www.whalespoken.wordpress.com/, as well as select a watch site. The training is required for new volunteers. Returning volunteers are encouraged to repeat the course every few years to learn the latest gray whale research results.
The first of three sessions is set for Saturday, Dec. 3 at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport. The training will be delivered by Dr. Bruce Mate, an expert on whales and director of the Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute. Additional volunteer training is scheduled for Jan. 14, 2017, at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, Charleston, and Feb. 11, 2017, at the Warrenton Community Center, Warrenton.
Whale Watching Spoken Here has been around since 1978 and is one of the most organized onshore whale-watching programs in the United States. For more information, call 541-765-3304.