Northern Elephant Seal (Mirounga angustirostris)

Dozens of different species of marine mammals can be found off Oregon’s Coast. Perhaps one of the most distinctive to make its way on shore is the Northern Elephant Seal, the largest pinniped carnivore that occurs along the North Pacific Coast. This animal gets its name from its size as well as the trunk-like “nose” – known as a proboscis – that is found on males and can be inflated to enhance vocalizations during mating season. Adult female elephant seals can weigh up to 1,700 pounds, and adult males can weigh up to 5,000 pounds! Unlike other mammals, including humans, that shed hair year-round, elephant seals experience this one time a year in a process called molting when they come ashore and shed the first layer of skin and their fur. The skin and fur come off in sheets as new skin and fur replace the old.

For a period of time elephant seals were thought to be extinct after they were killed in large numbers for their blubber. A small group survived off the coast of Mexico. Thanks to protections in Mexico and the United States, scientists believe there are around 170,000 northern elephant seals today. Elephant seals do not generally breed in Oregon, but visitors to the South Coast may be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of one at Cape Arago State Park (near Coos Bay), the only location where elephant seals haul out year round in Oregon.

Surfing on the Oregon Coast

It’s not too late to get involved in the Southern Oregon Coast Rural Tourism Studio presented by Travel Oregon! The Rural Tourism Studio consists of a series of workshops focused on local economic development through tourism in the Southern Oregon Coast region. OSU Sea Grant Extension is participating in this program and will be available to offer communities and businesses assistance as they go through the program and in the future. The next workshop will take place February 21st and 22nd in Charleston.

Travel demand for nature-based, outdoor recreation experiences has steadily been on the rise, particularly in regions abundant with natural assets. Adventure travel is one of the fastest growing segments in the travel industry globally. This workshop will explore world-class examples of other outdoor recreation and adventure travel destinations to inspire new thinking, examine how the region can evolve to meet the growing demands of the adventure traveler, while addressing issues of sustainability and seasonality. Come be a part of the discovery and get inspired with new ideas to evolve and improve this aspect of the region’s economy.

Click here to register!

Dungeness crab have been commercially harvested on the West Coast for more than 150 years and today this fishery is considered the most valuable single species commercial fishery in Oregon with an average value of 32.5 million dollars. The ocean crab season along the Oregon coast typically begins on December 1st and continues through August, although the majority of the harvest occurs during the first eight weeks of the season.

During the peak of the Dungeness crab harvest fresh crab is readily available at supermarket seafood counters and specialty seafood markets up and down the coast. Click here to find fresh crab near you! You can also try your hand at harvesting Dungeness crab year round on the Oregon Coast. Crabbing requires minimal gear that is often available for rent in coastal towns and can be done from a boat or dockside. Try it today!

Don’t forget to stop by the South Coast’s annual celebration of this treasured resource next month at the 33rd Annual Charleston Crab Feed!