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Oregon Coast Right Now: Surreal Frozen Sand, Whale Sightings

Published 11/29/2015 at 3:45 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Oregon Coast) – Even without storms that provide funky finds on the beach, this time of year on the Oregon coast is bringing surprises. Whales are starting to be seen in good numbers, there's a trippy phenomenon in the sand to look out for, and one big attraction has started its food drive (Photo above: Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium).

Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium said quite a few whales are already being spotted, a few weeks ahead of the Whale Watch Week, December 27 through 31.

“The migration begins,” Boothe said. “Gray whales can now be spotted along Oregon's coastline and this weekend's flawless forecast should make it easy to see some of these beautiful giants.”

This time of year, gray whales travel 12,430 miles round-trip from their summer home in Alaskan waters to the warmer waters off the Mexican coast. Once the Whale Watch Week begins, some 18,000 usually wander past. Gray whales aren't all you'll spot, either. Another 1,100 or so will be Humpbacks.

The Seaside Aquarium just started its annual food drive, which goes from now until January 1. Two cans of food per person gains you admission into the Aquarium. They are open everyday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. On the Prom in Seaside. 503-738-6211.

On the stranger side of nature, you might find the sands of the Oregon coast making a crunching noise this time of year. Conditions have come close already that could yield sand that is frozen, which then makes a curious crunching sound beneath your feet.

Overnight lows did occasionally dip below freezing along the Oregon coast this past week.

If there is a bit of rain or the right amount of enough moisture, those below 30-degree temps on the coast will yield frozen sand. If that happens, you're in for a slightly surreal experience on the beaches you haven't had before. Even your dog will be startled.

These conditions create stiffer than normal sand: it feels packed a little harder, and your footsteps form ice prints on the strand. You'll find eye-catching, angular patterns as the ice is broken in the sand as well.

On top of that experience, it can have an unusual shimmering, even glittery look to it. After dark, with a flashlight, the beaches sparkle in a particularly dreamlike way if frozen over.

Dogs are apparently amusingly puzzled by the phenomenon, as they're used to sand flying in the air when they walk on it. Where to stay for these happenings - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour


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A famous little family eatery where the seafood practically gets shuffled from the sea straight into your mouth. Soups and salads include many seafood specialties, including cioppino, chowders, crab Louie and cheese breads. Fish 'n' chips come w/ various fish. Seafood sandwiches with shrimp, tuna or crab, as well as burgers. Dinners like pan fried oysters, fillets of salmon or halibut, saut�ed scallops.
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