I try to get down to the Oregon coast over New Years each year to catch the start of the gray whale migration. It is easy to be dismissive of an animal which seems so common, but the other populations a gray whale are either extinct or nearly so. Our northeast Pacific population is the lone exception, rebounding to an estimated 22,000 individuals. I went out of Depoe Bay on a charter boat on December 30th. The captain reported 8 foot waves, some seemed bigger. This trip resulted in my holding on to the rail and not getting any pictures. New Year's Day was different: calm, clear, and dozens of whales. While I have a lot of pictures, they only show spouts and whale backs. They are migrating from feeding grounds in Alaska to mating waters near Baja. During this trip they don't feed, so they are fasting and they are fast. There is no time for cavorting - breaches, spy-hops, and such. However, it is breathtakingly cool to look out and see a dozen spouts all around the boat. This first picture shows three whales in one frame.
One hailed farewell.
It was a great start for the year. I pray for the best for each of you.
Happy to be alive.