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Winter Discoveries on Oregon Coast: Ghost Forests, Agates, Floats
(Oregon Coast) – Recent storms – and granted there haven't been many – are making for some funky finds on the Oregon coast. While Seaside Aquarium manager Keith Chandler said there hasn't been a lot of wacky stuff washing up because of the general lack of storms, others along the coastline have been rather lucky. Agate hunting, fossils, ancient forest stumps and even Japanese glass floats seem to be on display recently. (above: a glass float found a few years ago in Neskowin, courtesy Proposal Rock Inn)
Photo of Tillicum Beach ghost forest courtesy Pampering Campers
Some recent storm action started to cause a few ghost forest stumps to show up in places they're not usually seen. While the usual spots like Hug Point and Arch Cape, near Cannon Beach, haven't revealed their ancient structures this year, several areas on the central coast have. But down near Waldport, at Tillicum Beach, one set of ghost forest stumps have popped up recently.
The campground management company Pampering Campers – its central coast division – noted as much as five or six feet of sand had been stripped earlier this month, causing these specimens to be much more visible.
The Oregon coast ghost forests are part of ancient stands of trees, anywhere from 1,000 years old to 4,000 years old. They were covered in sand either by a changing landscape or a sudden tsunami/earthquake event at the time, which preserved them from the decaying effects of oxygen.
Seaside geologist Tom Horning confirmed these are ghost forest stumps in the photo from Pampering Campers.
Employees have noted that the calmer seas of late have brought much of that sand back in, so you may not have long to spot these specimens.
The Inn at Spanish Head has encountered a few rather stunning reports of finding real Japanese glass floats in the area. While these find can't be completely confirmed, manager Susan Burr said two employees at the Inn told of her of finds they knew about. One report was of as many as six glass floats being found in the Siletz Bay, including some with netting still on them. Another report was of a glass float being found near the Inn itself.
Sandy Pfaff, head of Lincoln City's visitor bureau said this wouldn't surprise her. But then, it seems, Lincoln City actually plants a few of the actual Japanese glass floats around the town's beaches, along with the keepsake, modern ones made in town.
Some, Pfaff said, are planted with netting still attached.
This does increase your odds of finding glass floats in Lincoln City – possibly more than anywhere else on the coast.
Storms have been good for agate hunters, as well.
Laura Joki, with Lincoln City's Rock Your World: Pacific NW Gem & Art Gallery, has been rockhounding a long time. She recently picked up a huge cache of finds in Lincoln City, about 20 to 30 rock samples, ranging from pea-sized to about the size of a golf ball. (See those agate finds here)
Some have recently found fossils, including a fossilized fern and a rock with a piece of bone through it, Joki said.
She largely checks two areas herself: the Nelscott beaches of town and the intertidal spots at the bottom of NW 15th, where there's a ramp.
“In general, the entire seven miles of Lincoln City's beaches are pretty good,” Joki said.
Gravel beds where you find agates can come and go pretty quickly, sometimes within hours, depending on how the sand levels are being affected by stormy tides. These trends can also be affected by exactly what the storms are doing, Joki believes.
“If the storms are from the south, it's putting sand on the beach,” Joki said. “If they're coming from the north, they're taking sand off the beach.”
On the central Oregon coast, Joki suggested agate hunting at Moolack Beach, at Fogerty Beach, and in Lincoln City the districts often yielding better finds are the Oceanlake, Nelscott and Taft areas.
Joki also chimed in on the possibility of glass float finds and gave up a little more on when to find agates.
“If they're finding glass floats out there that wouldn't surprise me at all,” Joki said. “This is the start of the storm season – at least now it is. And now through May is the season for agate hunting.”
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