180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita,
Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City,
Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.
Brown Waves Puzzle North Oregon Coast Visitors
|Brown waves are thick at Hug Point, just south of Cannon Beach
(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – A run of thick brown goo
has been causing a buzz on the north Oregon coast over the busy weekend,
causing puzzled expressions among tourists and a run of questions to local
It’s not pollution. It’s not algae. It’s
not an oil spill from a shipwreck, nor is it sewage or sludge of some
The brown waves that have appeared at Seaside and in the
Cannon Beach area in recent days are actually a good thing.
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It’s actually a form of phytoplankton causing all
the raucous - the basic, bottom of the food chain in the ocean on which
most all life depends. They’re called diatoms, and they are microscopic
plant-like creatures that are actually responsible for most all sea foam
you see on the beaches. They are about 100 micrometers long – or
1000 times the size of a virus. Still, they’re not visible with
the naked eye.
|Brown waves just south of Cannon Beach
This particular form of phytoplankton is so abundant right
now on the north coast that it’s causing really dark patches along
with very dark, brown chunks of foam. It also creates dark, oily-looking
patches in the sand as well as large tracts of brown foam and goo along
This phenomenon seems to happen more regularly and to a
greater degree in Seaside, but this time it’s showing up bigger
south of Cannon Beach, along with a fair amount of brown waves in Seaside.
“It’s a good thing,” said Keith Chandler,
manager of the Seaside Aquarium.
“It’s a healthy thing. It’s just a lot of diatoms.”
When diatoms get so abundant in the ocean, they may wash
ashore during storms or westerly winds. This usually happens early spring,
mid summer, and early fall. It’s another natural occurrence that
can contribute to the giant floating masses of brown foam.
|Brown goo makes waves in Seaside (photo
Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium)
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Often, storms agitate the surf and apparently bring the
diatoms up from the depths a bit more. However, there haven’t been
any significant storms in recent days, so its cause is puzzling.
Even more puzzling is the sporadic way it’s showing
up on the north coast. It’s prevalent around Hug Point, but a few
hundred yards to the south, at Arch Cape, it’s almost nonexistent.
It appeared sporadically in Cannon Beach on Saturday, but not at all on
Seaside saw a heavy spate of it on Friday, and not as much
on Saturday. Further up north, at the wreck of the Peter Iredale, near
Warrenton, none of it was visible.
Chandler said it comes and goes with the tides. Sometimes
it’s more prominent, others it’s not as obvious.
|Seaside: photo Boothe
Tiffany Boothe, with the Seaside Aquarium, said the creatures
leave behind residue after they scarf down the nitrates and phosphates,
which creates more interesting scenery on the coast. “They leave
behind carbohydrates, fats, proteins and vitamins,” Boothe said.
“Their bodies also store oil to live on. If you look closely at
the bubbles created by phytoplankton you will notice that they look as
if they have oil in them, as in the photographs here.”
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The brown diatom patches leave these dark stains on the
beaches because of the materials in their bodies. “It’s not
really so much of a stain as it is a lot of the stuff accumulates on the
beaches,” Chandler said. “The stuff, like the brown bubbles,
feels a little oily, but that doesn’t mean it is oil. It just comes
from a lot of it piling on the beaches. The tide will come and clean it
out. Just like a ketchup stain – it comes right out.”
|Close-up of brown foam (photo Boothe)
There were thick brown stains on the sands of Hug Point
on Saturday, as tourists flocked there to see the geological oddities
called “red towers” and to hunt for agates – both the
result of extremely low sand levels.
Diatoms and other types of phytoplankton are also largely
responsible for the regular sea foam you see on the coastline. Those bubbles
that hit the beaches are from the breakdown of the skeletons of phytoplankton.
High winds and heavy surf whip air into the water, and when combined with
the dissolved organic matter from the phytoplankton, these help create
in the ocean feeds on diatoms and other plankton, either directly or indirectly.
Even the great baleen whales filter planktons and diatoms for part of
Other wild sights are sometimes on tap because of another
form of phytoplankton called dinoflagellates. These little creatures glow
in the water at night, and on the beaches for a few hours after washing
up on shore. It’s nicknamed “glowing sands” because
they emit a faint, bluish, green glow when stepped on or disturbed. This
is only visible in very dark conditions at night.
This phenomenon sometimes follows such high-density diatom
events as the north coast is experiencing now.
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Cape Property Services.
Dozens of homes in that dreamy,
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All homes are immaculate and smoke free; some pet friendly (with
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Beach Rentals, Lincoln City. Perfect for large family
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Lincoln City, Oregon. 1-(503)-232-5984. www.a1beachrentals.com.
City Vacation Homes
Something for everyone: smaller homes
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or just a few steps away – all with a low bank access and
fantastic views. Most are in the Nelscott area; one is close to
the casino. You’ll find a variety of goodies: fireplaces,
multiple bedrooms, dishwashers, Jacuzzis, washer/dryers, hot tubs,
cable TV, VCR, barbecues; there’s a loft in one, and another
sprawling home has two apartments. Pets allowed in some homes
– ask first. Each comes with complete kitchens. Most have
seventh night free. Prices range from winter $85 to summer $230
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here for video of Dec. storm aftermath
Coast Best of Awards for the Year And the winners
are: best of Oregon coast restaurants, lodgings, science, odd events
in nature and stunning moments for 2007
Transformations of Oregon Coast Beaches Seasons change
and so do beaches, revealing different sides and a variety of eye-popping
Cool Ideas for Oregon Coast Romance Be it the season
of Valentine's or be it any time of the year, Oregon's coastline has
essentially cornered the market for cuddle-inducing possibilities and
gushy activities for the hand-holding set
or Night Mysteries and Merriment on Oregon Coast It's
more than just nightlife that comes to life, but the beaches offer major
Coast Travel Site Goes Wireless Provides Lodging Reports
- Oregon Coast Beach Connection now has mobile lodging and dining listings,
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Constantly dramatic wave action, a mix of the rugged &
A lighthouse, ancient bayfront and miles and miles of fluffy