Oregon's Pacific Ocean Area Enters Beachcombing Season with Plenty of Oddities
(Seaside, Oregon) – Beachcombing season seems to have arrived on the Oregon coast, and part of the proof of this is a wide range of fun and funky things found by Seaside Aquarium's Tiffany Boothe. (Photos by Tiffany Boothe)
“It has been very exciting lately walking along the Seaside beach,” Boothe said last week. “We found this large deposit of marine debris at the mouth of the river north of 12th Ave, a soup fin shark at the cove, a black skate egg casing, and jellies.”
Among her other finds were an impressive little sea shell.
The skate egg casing sometimes resembles seaweed, but it is a very tough, protective casing which can contain anywhere from two to seven embryos per casing.
“Adult female skates will drop these on the ocean floor, where the casing will drift for nine to twelve months,” Boothe said. “During that time, the embryos feed upon a yolk sack that they are attached to. When the babies are developed enough to be self-sufficient, one end of the casing will open up and the baby skates - now 3.5 inches long – will emerge.”
Soupfin sharks are known by various names, including flake, tope, school and vitamin shark (which comes from the fact their livers are extremely rich in vitamin A). Along the Oregon coast and the coastlines of Washington and Canada, they are mostly males running these waters. But off California waters they are equally male and female.
You can identify a soupfin shark easily by its sleek, think body and pointy nose, along with a second dorsal fin and a large structure on their tail.
They are found in groups of around 50 and have been known to travel hundreds of miles to breed.
Sea gooseberries are also known as comb jellies and appear on the beach as fascinating little creatures which look like bubbles.
“But once in salt water this beautiful and graceful jelly begins to move, pulsating the small cilia that line the outside of the jelly,” Boothe said.
The sea gooseberry has two tentacles, which are about three times longer than the body of the critter. These are lined with colloblasts – a specialized adhesive cell that helps snag food for the comb jelly.
They only live about four to six months.
“The body of a Sea Gooseberry is virtually transparent and the many cilia refract the light, producing rainbow-like colors that can give the false appearance of bioluminescence,” Boothe said.
The run of storms this week should result in plenty of interesting objects to find on the beaches.
Any of the beaches along the Oregon coast will be good for discoveries and oddity hunting, including Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Rockaway Beach, Warrenton, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Gleneden Beach, Newport, Waldport and Yachats.
Always keep beach safety in mind, however.
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