Seaside Aquarium/For EO Media Group
Seaside Aquarium/For The Daily Astorian
SEASIDE — Humpback whales in the Seaside Cove have been sighted feeding on bait fish for hours, the Seaside Aquarium reported Saturday.
Humpbacks are not unusual to the Oregon coast but they tend to stay off shore for the most part, staff member Tiffany Boothe of the aquarium said. They come into the cove when bait fish are plentiful, usually during the months of July through September.
This year there have been reports all over the Oregon and Washington coasts of humpbacks feeding near shore, Boothe said. They can travel in groups but for the most part they are very small groups two to six per group. Humpback whales endure the longest migration route of any mammal, she said. Humpbacks seen along the Oregon Coast travel 3,000 miles between their feeding and breeding grounds. They have been known to complete this journey in as little as 36 days.
If the bait fish keep close to shore the whales could be around for a few days, Boothe said.
Alongside the whales were brown pelicans, harbor seals, California sea lions, harbor porpoises, western gulls, terns, grebes and sooty shearwaters.
They are feasting on anchovies and the birds and the sea lions are following the fish — not the whales). “The fish is the important part,” Boothe said. “Without the fish none of the activity that we saw today at the cove would be happening.”
Sooty shearwaters travel the longest animal migration routes ever recorded, 39,000 miles. The birds, which travel in groups numbering into the hundreds of thousands, breed in New Zealand and Chile and migrate to feeding grounds in the Northern Hemisphere, including Seaside.