Port Orford is known for its whale watching opportunities and is part of the Oregon State Parks Whale Trail sightseeing program. The designated area to spot these marvels is Battle Rock State Park, although this isn’t the only place to see them and whale watching is encouraged as long as visitors respect the whales and the nature surrounding them. ***

The whales aren’t always easy to spot and it requires a lot of patience, so looking through the trained eyes of one the best photographers in the area is a great way to do it. Wildlife and nature photographer Dave Foley has spent countless hours capturing the migrating and feeding whales through his lens framed against the breathtaking natural backdrop of the area.

Whalewatching - October 14 2020
“Whale Watching I — October 14 2020” by Dave Foley
“Whale Watching II — October 14 2020” by Dave Foley
“Whale Watching III — October 12 2020” by Dave Foley

Dave is also an administrator of Port Orford and PNW Whale Watchers on Facebook where he often posts video excerpts of his whale-watching adventures. Here are a few from the artist’s feed:

The following amazing video was taken when the Port of Port Orford was undergoing a breakwater repair in 2019:

Way too much activity going on down at the docks these days to do much whale watching. They need plenty of space to get their work done in a safe and timely manner. I was down there on my morning walk and ran into this guy and decided to post it to hold people over through the rework. Don’t know if he was eating or scratching. It’s just like you were there! He was in and out in less than 20 minutes.

DAVE FOLEY @ THE Port of Port Orford, Port Orford, Oregon, 8-18-2019

On April 17 2021, the artist captured an incredible phenomenon that appears to be heart-shaped formations forming from a gray whale’s blowhole.

“Whale Watching I — April 17 2021” by Dave Foley
“Whale Watching II — April 17 2021” by Dave Foley

He spotted it again on July 12 2021:

“Whale Watching III — July 12 2021” by Dave Foley

It just so happens that gray whales’ blowholes (which belong to one of two basic suborders of whales known as baleen whales) are comprised of two slits on top of their head through which they exhale (toothed whales only have one slit). Blasting out of two blowholes, their breath creates two misty towers high in the air. If it’s NOT windy, the two towers of mist blend and can indeed take on a heart shape.

Port Orford is also home to the Oregon State University Port Orford Field Station which is an incredible place to study gray whales in-depth. They offer an internship program during the summer months in collaboration with the Geospatial Ecology of Marine Megafauna Laboratory (GEMM) . Check out their websites for details.

*** Visitors to the area should also take care to observe weather, wind and surf conditions before venturing out as this is rugged country. Please Take Care and Safety First!