Gooey, Trippy Beach Surprises After an Oregon Coast Storm
(Oregon Coast) – Ever seen a whale burp? Or an ocean burp? Storm season may be your time. It certainly yields plenty of discoveries. (Above: a whale burp)
Once the storm has stopped - and you often don't have to wait a whole day - numerous goodies will have either washed up or been left uncovered by sand being scoured out.
Agates are often a treasured and regular find after storms. Look for large gravel beds in the sand, as these will yield the goodies..
Storms can often leave oddities and treasures, like strange clumps of objects filled with stuff coughed up from the seafloor (which can sometimes include still-living creatures), or you may actually still find the coveted Japanese glass float.
After big storms, the Oregon coast is often the recipient of a somewhat unusual sight, what is sometimes referred to as “ocean burps.” The technical term is detritus, and it means the ocean is casting some interesting objects from the depths onto the shores – things you don’t normally find on the beaches.
“It’s an upwelling of stuff from the ocean floor,” said Keith Chandler, manager of Seaside Aquarium.
Chandler said these ocean burps happen under some very exact conditions, when the right mix of storms happen along with the right kind of ocean currents.
Beachcombers will spot a brownish mass of wood and grassy matter from afar, but up close is a small treasure chest of natural oddities like cockleshells, hermit crabs, squid eggs, casings from other eggs, moon snail shells and somewhat rare rock finds.
“If you see a patch of dark brown on the beach, go look through it because you’ll find some cool stuff,” Chandler said.
In the past, Chandler and aquarium staff have patches filled with fascinating finds, such as the lightweight volcanic rock pumice, a sea sponge and more egg casings and live eggs. Sometimes, species of starfish rarely seen out of the ocean get chucked up onto the beaches with these episodes.
Chandler said seagulls love these, and make a feast on them. “One minute they’re happy and safe on the bottom of the ocean, and then all of a sudden they’re staring into the eye of a seagull,” Chandler said.
One episode of this detritus occurred in February 2006, where Chandler found 30 live cockleshells – a form of clam. He also found numerous squid egg casings and some live squid eggs, which were incubated at the aquarium and hatched after six months.
Other detritus episodes have yielded real rarities, like eggs from moon snails - quite attractive with their intricate, swirling designs.
Also, be on the lookout for big, condensed clumps of beach grass that seem almost as impenetrable as steel. These are called “whale burps,” and they are the result of beach getting smashed together. They can look a bit like a small bale of hay.
Other major surprises can lurk in the world of Oregon coast geology. Numerous kinds of intriguing things can be unearthed by storms scouring out sand, like oddities known as "red towers" or even more ghost forests - stands of trees that can be thousands of years old.
Don't hit the beaches if surf conditions are still rough after a storm – and always keep your eye on the tide. Sneaker waves are just waiting to get you sometimes.
Keywords: Cannon Beach, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Manzanita, Rockaway Beach, geology, Yachats, Waldport, Florence, Newport.
Above: geologic oddities uncovered just south of Cannon Beach
Neskowin's Ghost Forest
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