Do you speak whale?

Do you want to learn how?



Seeing one of the largest creatures on earth surface offshore is an incredible experience. But half of the joy of whale watching is sharing it with others. Through the Oregon Whale Watch program, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) places trained volunteers at overlooks along the Oregon coast to assist visitors in spotting gray whales during their two major annual migrations in the winter and spring. You could be one of them, helping people to see whales for the first time.

2023 Winter Whale Watch Signup will begin in the Fall

To become a volunteer with our team each person must complete these tasks:


Step 1 (Required)- Complete the Oregon Whale Watch Volunteer Service Agreement (VSA)

This form will guide you through the expectations that all volunteer for this program agree to.

Step 2 (Required)-  Complete the Oregon State Discrimination and Harassment Training

In 2019 the Oregon Legislature made changes to the laws regarding discrimination and harassment. Each year all employees, including volunteers, are required to complete this training module.

*** The two steps above will also initiate a background check. 

 In the coming weeks, you will receive an email from Advanced Reporting, Oregon State Parks’ background check service. Each volunteer will need to complete a background check by responding to the request from that email. People who do not pass this step will not be able to sign up as volunteers with us at this time. 

Step 3 (Recommended ) Sign up for one of the Winter Volunteer Training events.

Three Virtual training sessions (Zoom) will be held live in early December. This is your chance to meet local whale experts, researchers and park rangers who will be apart of this year’s team. If you can’t make it live, these will be recorded for you to watch on your own time. New volunteers are required to participate in one of the training sessions before being able to volunteer with us. (Yes there is a quiz at the end).  Additionally, we have our 2015 Whale Watching Manual attached as a learning resource.

Step 4 Sign up for Volunteer Sites!

Once the above steps are complete, you will receive a confirmation letter from the Whale Watch Staff. In it, you will find the access code you need to sign up for your desired volunteer dates and locations. (This final confirmation email can take up to one week, or more in some cases, for our staff to process.)

This is much different than in years past. You are responsible for scheduling your own sites. You will see that a limited number of volunteer assignments are available each day. If the site you want is full, please check availability at other locations. (The whales will be happy to see you there too!)

If you have questions about this process please contact us at by email at

Or by phone @ 541-888-3778 Ext. 221

 What do Volunteers do?

Volunteers are asked to participate in the program at least 2 days. Volunteers are responsible for setting up site materials at their approved location. The materials consist of a small container with whale models, a rope that represents the length of a whale and various flyers, stickers and information for our visitors. Most days there will be 3-8 volunteers per site, depending on location.

You should be at your site from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. counting whales and talking with visitors.

After 1:00 p.m. a report will be completed with your daily tally of whales, visitors and other information.

Oh, and most importantly, have fun!!!

How to Become a Volunteer

If you’d like to join the Oregon Whale Watch team and help educate the public about these gentle giants of the sea, please sign up to attend one of the training sessions we hold each winter. You’ll learn from researchers and OPRD interpretive rangers how to locate and identify common marine mammals of the Oregon coast. You’ll also receive a whale watching reference manual and a field guide to marine mammals of the North Pacific.

We usually fill all of our available registration spaces, so it’s a good idea to register early! Once you’ve gone through a training, you can sign up to volunteer at any point in the future. We encourage seasoned volunteers to participate in a training every three or four years as a refresher, but it is not required.