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Extraordinary Encounter on Oregon Coast: Unusual Beach Noises, Video

Published 09/08/2017 at 5:27 AM PDT - Published 09/08/2017 at 5:57 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff


(Oregon Coast) – That calming, cajoling sound of the waves lapping on the beach is an irresistible one. A constant refreshing of the soul seems to happen with each incoming breaker.

Yet it's not the most interesting sound the beaches make.

Sometimes, under the rarest conditions, you can hear something extraordinary: sands that sing, talking barnacles or maybe the delightful “magic rocks.” The audio portion of the Oregon coast has some major surprises on occasion.

Magic Rocks. (Photo above: Falcon Cove Road, known as Magic Rocks Beach). In a few spots along the Oregon coast, and sometimes it takes the right conditions, you may hear a surreal rattling noise coming from the rocks at the tide line.

It’s as if the tides momentarily give them life, as they shimmy, shake and shudder while making an almost chirping sound, like giant Mexican jumping beans that have grown to freakish size and now inhabit the tideline.

It's been nicknamed “magic rocks” by some locals, mostly because one beach near Arch Cape actually has the nickname of Magic Rocks Beach.

You have to have large, rounded cobblestones at the tideline to do it. The water bounces them around and causes them to clatter against each other.

North coast geologist Tom Horning said it almost always happens next to large basalt headlands, which produce the stones that then get rounded out by the tides. The three best spots for this are the secret beach at the end of Falcon Cove Road (near the Arch Cape Tunnel, between Manzania and Cannon Beach), the blackened rock beach below Newport's Yaquina Head, and the village of Cape Meares, at the beginning of the Bayocean Spit.


Singing Sands and Squeaking Sands. Singing sands is extremely rare on this coast and mostly found – if at all – in some parts of the National Dunes Recreation Area south of Florence. It's essentially a once in a lifetime find. Sometimes, it sounds like distant voices singing. Others, it's a bit like a violin or an odd, elongated squeaking noise. All this only happens under certain conditions, when two different kinds of sands grind together under the right degree of humidity.

It has been documented in Waldport briefly in the '70s, however.

Slightly more common is the squeaking sands phenomenon, which can be found on many beaches on the Oregon coast – but it takes very exact and rare conditions. It seems to occur a bit more in the Cannon Beach area, including beaches south of there such as at Arcadia State Park (photo above). This presents itself as a squishing, squeaking noise as you walk on the beach.


Singing Cape Kiwanda. The vast, loose dune on top of Pacific City's Cape Kiwanda can create some wild, whistling noises when the wind gets going. It may be more the wire fences along the edges that are causing that when they are hit by wind – it's difficult to tell. That whistle can be a bit of a howl at times, however. It's a fascinating sound.

Talking Barnacles. If you're ever in a large tide pool area, listen very closely. You may hear a faint grinding or clicking sound. It's coming from the barnacles, and it sounds like they're talking.

The noise comes from the tiny creatures moving around inside their shells. Keith Chandler, manager of Seaside Aquarium, said the acorn barnacle has two shells that it lives inside. You can see them squirming around in there.

“It happens when they twist around inside their shells, when something disturbs them," Chandler said.

It doesn't take much to disturb them, either. A shadow passing over them can cause them to do this. The chattering is often brief as well. Where to stay in these areas - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours



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