Florence Wildlife Viewing


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Whales & Sea Life

Gray Whale migration whales migrate past on their way to and from the waters off Alaska and Mexico. We watch whales in the winter from mid-December through January. Spring watching begins in March with the peak near the end of the month and finishes in June with mothers and babies traveling north. Summer brings whales that feed along our coast from July to mid-November.

Killer Whales are seen in less abundance than gray whales although they generally show up around the same times as they feed on baby gray whales, seals and sea lions. They are typically seen between Florence and Lincoln City.

Both the Stellar Sea Lion and California Sea Lion make their home along the rocky shores at Sea Lion Caves, just north of Florence. The larger Stellar Sea Lion uses the cave as a breeding area and wintering home, while the male California Sea Lion is usually only seen in winter.

Seal species that can be seen in the Florence area include the Northern Elephant Seal and the Harbor Seal, and less frequently the Northern Fur Seal. Typically they will be spotted bobbing in the water or river, and occasionally taking to the docks or to the north at the Seal Rock shoreline.

Sea Otters have been extinct along the Oregon Coast for about 100 years. Once every 4-5 years an otter from the Northern California colony is caught in the currents and floats into Oregon waters.


Devil's Elbow


Siuslaw Estuary - 3,000 acres of tidelands and lower salt marshes extending from Duncan Inlet to the mouth of the Siuslaw River which is home to the western sandpipers and wintering area to tundra swans.

Coastal Important Bird Area is a protected area overseen by the Portland Audobon Society that includes the Ten Mile Creek Sanctuary, Pine Tree Conservatory, Rock Creek & Cummins Creek Wildernesses and Siuslaw NF. The area provides critical habitat to the Marbled Murrelet and Spotted Owl as well as hosting the Hermit Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Pacific-slope Flycatcher and more northwest songbirds.

Heceta Bank Important Bird Area includes Heceta Bank, Perpetua Bank, Stonewall Bank, and surrounding waters. This area is important to a variety of seabirds as the ocean upwellings bring food to the surface.

The Waite Ranch estuary acquisition builds on other land protection efforts over the last 20 years, adding to a network that includes The Nature Conservancy’s Cox Island property, ODFW's Bull Island, and the Wilbur Island Bank. 80 birds inluding snowy egret, peregrine falcon, hawks, ducks, osprey. Cox Island is also the site of the Benedict house, the inspiration for Ken Kesey's novel, "Sometimes A Great Notion".

Elk & Deer

Roosevelt Elk
- Enchanted Valley, drive north on 101 3.5 miles to Mercer lake road. Turn right onto Mercer lake road and follow it 3.7 miles as it winds its way around Mercer Lake. After 3.7 miles, the road ends at a gravel cul-de-sac, where the "trail" begins on a gated dirt road.

Black Tail Deer roam freely in the coastal range and can jump out suddenly almost anywhere in Florence and on the surrounding roads. They typically weigh less than 100 lbs and feed and water in the morning and evening.


Black bear numbers in the Siuslaw River area are quite high with bears commonly seen in Florence wherever there is easy access to water or food. The abundant berries and other fruits that are available are very attractive to bears. While they are accustomed to humans, remember that bears are wild animals and must always be treated as such.



Wildlife Safety & Protection



  • Never feed wildlife

  • Do not interfere with mating or other wildlife behavior  

  • Keep a good distance

  • Follow "leave no trace" practices


Whale Watch Week

Beach Clean-Up

More Wildlife Viewing...