The Eyes of the Oregon Coast: Watching Beach Changes
(Oregon Coast) – If there is one constant on this ever-changing shoreline, it's that things will be different from day to day. Sands shift around, objects wash up, and waves – especially in winter and early spring – will erode something on every stretch of beach. Your favorite chunk of sand or rocky area may look different from one day to the next, but certainly in a season (above: new waterfalls have been seen along this secretive road, near Depoe Bay).
This is where the organization CoastWatch comes in – a group of volunteers who wander Oregon’s beaches in a kind of patrol: looking for changes, problems or just anything of interest. Members “adopt” a coastal mile, and are charged with keeping an eye on that area periodically throughout the year, and reporting in.
This results in a fascinating read at their website, http://oregonshores.org/coastwatch.php5, where reports are posted and the intricate and dynamic world of the Oregon coast comes alive.
As expected, spring and late winter has brought numerous changes to a variety of areas. In the last four weeks or so, a variety of interesting reports were filed, noting things you may find useful for your next trip to the Oregon coast.
In Florence, at the end of Siuslaw South Jetty Road, CoastWatchers reported a visible retreat of the bluff, where waves had heavily eroded parts of the cliff.
CoastWatchers were keeping a close eye on beaches just after the tsunami surge of March 11. While debris from Japan is not expected for at least a year, it seems likely that objects from the major damage at Brookings may have washed up around here – or that the surge itself pushed a few more bits than usual from the ocean onto the shore.
In late March, a CoastWatcher checking out the Newport area found interior panels from a boat, including plywood obviously meant for a marine-faring vessel.
“The pieces range in size from 0.5 to 1.0 square meters,” the CoastWatcher said. “One panel has a cutout for an interior electrical outlet (apparently shore power) and is clearly labeled AC 115V. These pieces have virtually no marine growth so they have not been long in the ocean.”
Just south of Newport, between there and Ona Beach, sits Lost Creek Wayside. CoastWatch’s most recent reports from there indicate some landslides and boulders coming off the cliffs, with major cracks showing up in the bluffs and some new tree roots being revealed. In fact, some ten slides were noted.
At the north jetty of the Yaquina Bay, just below the lighthouse, erosion has been taking place again on the sand bank.
Near Depoe Bay, along Otter Crest Road and the wayside, changes include some waterfalls not seen previously. Part of this may just be the heavy rain season, or it could be a change how water drains off the higher elevations of Cape Foulweather.
Down between Yachats and Florence, there are numerous hidden beaches, like that around Rock Creek Campground, just south of Cape Perpetua. At the north end of Roosevelt Beach, Rock Creek and the rocky knoll, some erosion is occurring, according to CoastWatch.
On March 26, one CoastWatcher participated in the beach clean-up at Bayocean Spit, just west of Tillamook. They noted numerous details, such as a dead bird and a deceased sea lion, as well as sundry interesting stuff that had washed up such as casings from marine creatures and two rubber tires.
They filled 12 bags with bundles of garbage, mostly stuff that appears to have washed up from the sea – such as plastic bottles, flip flops, buoys, crab pots, fishing line, beer cans and such. Among the oddities: a tube of toothpaste and six toothbrushes nearby. They found an iPhone as well, and passed that on to local authorities, who did find the owners.
At Roads End Beach at the north end of Lincoln City, one CoastWatcher hit the area around spring break, finding people doing unwise things such as climbing the bluffs that are prone to slides and goofing off a little too far into the tideline. Some fairly large rockslides were found along these bluffs – which is definitely not unusual for this place. But it’s further proof that people shouldn’t be scaling these walls.
At Neskowin, there has been more machinery activity like placing rip rap to help protect the shoreline. Some of the dunes closer to the tide had been eroded a little during the winter.
Up on the north coast, at Short Sands beach, the popular surfing spot just below Oswald State Park, it’s reported a young harbor seal was found at the southern end, about 40 – 45 pounds.
In late March, sand levels were still lowering at places like Hug Point, near Cannon Beach, leaving some of the rocks a mushroom shape. CoastWatchers at the time noticed a lot of coarse sand and small rocks landing up on the beach.
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