Bringing Parks to the People


Oregon park rangers bring coastal whale-watching to your computer

DEPOE BAY – As Oregonians do our part to stay home and save lives, a group of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department rangers came up with a way for us to stay connected with the outdoors.

Gray whales are now making their way north to Alaska, and that usually means springtime whale watching at the coast. Due to the closures of all state parks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the public was going to have to miss watching the whales’ migration this year.

Help sometimes comes from unexpected places. Several park rangers at Depoe Bay made a big effort to bring the parks to the people with a livestream made possible through Oregon State Parks and the Whale Watching Spoken Here Program. While folks may be looking for celebrity gray whale Scarback, four orcas were spotted on the March 24, 2020 livestream.

“It’s creativity like this that will keep us going through this difficult time,” said Governor Kate Brown. “We must use the tools we have to continue to enjoy the beauty and bounty of Oregon, even when we cannot visit it in person.”

The livestreams are especially important to Oregonians who usually would be on the coast to help watch for and count whales. John Hoffnagle has volunteered with the Oregon State Parks whale watch program for more than five years, noting it’s one of the most well-known and is a great way for people to learn more about whales. He checked out the livestream and was happy to see people from as far away as the east coast tuned in and commenting on the spring rite of passage.

The next two livestreams are scheduled for April 1, from 10a.m. – 2p.m. Watch it here, or check out highlights in this photo gallery.

About Author

Deb Curran is a Communications Officer with the Oregon Department of Human Services

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