Whale Watching Spoken Here (WWSH) connects trained volunteers with visitors along the Oregon coast during the two major gray whale migrations each year. The program's main objectives are to help visitors see and learn about the whales and other marine life along the coast and to have fun.
There are three training sessions offered each year. Training was held in Newport in November, and will be offered in mid-January in Charleston and mid-February in Ilwaco, Wash. Volunteers must attend one training session before they can serve at a WWHS site. Once trained, they may volunteer any year after, and seasoned volunteers are also encouraged to take refresher courses. Marine biologist Carrie Newell will lead the January and February sessions, and Interpretive Ranger Morris Grover of the Oregon State Parks' Whale Watching Center will instruct. Early registration is advised.
The peak migration times are Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 for the winter and March 19 through 26 for spring, but whales can be seen migrating south from mid-December to late January and north from mid-March to late May. Whales can also be seen at other times of the year. WWHS sites are located all along the coast, from Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment State Park in Ilwaco, Wash., to Ninth Street Beach in Crescent City, Calif.
Training is free of charge for participants who preregister and sign up to volunteer at least two days during a watch. The two-day training includes speakers, a whale watching referance manual and two waterproof field guides. Whale watching T-shirts will be available for purchase at the trainings for $15 each. You can register by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (541) 765-3304. Oregon and Washington state parks offer free campsites for WWSH volunteers and there are free state park reservations available for training weekends. For free Oregon campsite reservations, not including yurts and cabins, call Gretchen Mills at Reservations Northwest at (888) 953-7677. If you prefer to pay for a yurt or cabin, or to make other Oregon reservations, call (800) 452-5687 or log on to reserveamerica.com
For free Cape Disappointment reservations, for training and volunteering at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, contact Tracy Zuern, Washington State Parks, at (360) 642-3078.