Experiment on Oregon Coast Yields Other Remarkable Finds
By Andre' Hagestedt
(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – The search for scientific discovery – whether you're an actual scientist or not – can cause you to bump into other major surprises (above: one amazing sight found by accident in Cannon Beach).
So begins this odd journey, where I set out to try and photograph the freaky glowing sand phenomenon. In the process, I made some other startling discoveries that ranged from the depths of the sea, to the clouds above us, and even into deep space.
That glowing sand search didn’t pan out. I’d seen it in huge numbers and fairly bright over a few days in the Depoe Bay/Lincoln City area of the central Oregon coast. And I saw them – albeit very faintly – in Manzanita the night before, and they were here again even fainter. But alas, too faint to even try to photograph.
This comes from a form of phytoplankton called dinoflagellates – part of the family of microscopic plants that form the bottom of the food chain for marine life. This particular brand is bioluminescent, meaning they give off a glow when disturbed or bumped through internal chemistry processes, much in the same way a firefly does.
I started out in Manzanita about 1 a.m., not seeing more than a trace of them, then moved on to the extreme southern end of the Tolovana area of Cannon Beach. They were here too, but way too faint to experiment with photographing them.
So, just for the hell of it, I take a long exposure shot and discover this startling scene above. Clouds are not only lit up in extraordinary ways at night here – just waiting to be photographed – but I discover that even in the middle of the night the sky still reflects in the wet sand.
Also, Haystack Rock is in the distance – as seen from this detail photo.
Another discovery: change the right setting on your camera in the middle of the night and you’ll get quite the surprise. The whole scene looks different, and you find out clouds do the darnedest things when everyone else is asleep.
Then I realize the tide is really, really far out there – much more than usual, as you can see from the daylight shot of this spot compared to the nighttime example. It turns out right about now is quite the low tide event in the area. If it wasn’t the dead of night, I’d go poking around tide pool areas.
Even more striking, however, is the emergence of a star field from behind those bulbous, multicolored clouds.
I’ve just gone from seeing creatures from the deep, to finding remarkable cloud features, and then peered into deep space.
You can’t get much cooler than that on what was supposed to be an experiment on another subject altogether – in the middle of the night, on the Oregon coast.
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