Watch the spring migration of gray whales, which will peak the week of March 22 through March 29 and again in late December and early January. Look for the "Whale Watching Spoken Here" signs that designate good whale-viewing sites, usually staffed with volunteers who can offer information. Whale Watching sites include:

• Ecola State Park, north of Cannon Beach

• Neahkanie Mountain, near Manzanita

• Fort Stevens State Park, in Warrenton

• Lighthouse Point, near Ilwaco, Wash.

Whale Watching Tips• Scan the horizon and look for the blow - vapor, water or condensation blown into the air up to 12 feet when the whale exhales.

• Once you see a blow, stay with it. Where you see one blow, you will see more, either from other whales or the same whale.

• Once you have seen what you are looking for, additional sightings are much easier, and you will observe more details of whale behavior.

• Often, whales leave turbulent eddies along the surface after short dives. You can track their path and set up a camera or spotting scope to anticipate the next blow.

• Usually only a small portion of the whale's head and back show during a blow.

• If tail flukes are raised high, the whale is sounding and the dive will usually be a deep one. In shallow water, the whale may keep the flukes aloft for several minutes while head-standing.

• Breaching is a real treat for whale-watchers. When breaching, whales rise head-first out of the water, as much as half or three-quarters of their length. Then they fall back or to the side with a big splash. Experts think whales do this to knock off an external parasite called whale lice, to communicate, court or just to have fun.

• Sky-hopping is the term used to describe a whale poking its head partially out of the water, just enough to raise an eye over the surface. Experts think whales do this to see better and to locate the direction of sounds.


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