Get Ready for Fun Finds on Oregon Coast Beaches as Winter Approaches
Published 11/02/2015 at 4:55 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff
(Oregon Coast) – The season of wilder weather and crazier conditions has arrived all along the Oregon coast, and there's plenty of reason to look not just out to sea but to fix your eyes downward as well. After watching some of those stormy waves, you'll want to scope out the beaches quickly, say local experts. (Above: mola mola photo courtesy Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium. The rarely seen fish, normally living deep in the ocean, may be found because of rollicking waves).
Weird stuff will be washing up on the sand, sometimes in great abundance. The blanket term for much of this is detritus, and the stuff you can find is extremely varied. The individual objects have their own names, however.
Photos below by Tiffany Boothe
A small sampling of fun finds includes what is called “whale burps” - the nickname for rock-hard bundles of sea grass that have been compressed together. These often look rather squarish, not unlike hay bundles created on a farm. But it's a consequence of the ocean squishing all that stuff into one, sturdy mass.
Then there are also “ocean burps,” a very loose term for bundles of sundry objects that get stuck together and tossed up by the tide. They often yield still-living specimens like live eggs from various species, or even glass floats from Japan.
“When the wind blows out of the west, it usually causes things to wash onto the beach,” said Seaside Aquarium's Tiffany Boothe. “It is possible to find ‘burps,’ egg casings, and even glass floats.”
These create some some dazzling opportunities for the crew at Seaside Aquarium, especially when they find live skate eggs. The facility has been able to show off living skates for a good year or more in their tanks, just from eggs hatched there that were picked up off the beaches.
Skate eggs can take as much as six months to hatch, said Boothe.
Other occasional finds in years past include lightweight volcanic rock known as pumice, sea sponges, and starfish species rarely seen outside of the deeper surf zone – almost never on land. Even rarities like moon snail shells are sometimes found, with their attractive, intricate and swirling designs.
On more than one occasion, Boothe's beachcombing expeditions have resulted in finding a large section of rope with live creatures still clinging to it. One several years ago had about 20 plumose anemones attached. The chunk of rope had probably sunk to the bottom of the ocean, falling into a bed of plumose, Boothe said. It doesnot take long for an object to acquire such living creatures in the right conditions.
“Especially with the plumose, it can take a couple of minutes to a couple hours,” Boothe said.
The Seaside Aquarium suggests keeping your eyes open on the beaches after storms, or even if the storms are still brewing and you're feeling particularly hardy and don't mind a bit of wind and rain.
Keep beach safety in mind, however, and don't venture out if the waves are too big. More about Oregon coast science.
Whale burp found in Lincoln City
Below: live creatures found on a rope, photos Tiffany Boothe
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