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Brown Waves on Oregon Coast Not Pollution

 

Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.

11/13/07

Secrets of the Season

Colored Waves on Oregon Beaches Cause Confusion

Brown foam at Seaside (photo Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium)

(Seaside, Oregon) – Mysterious brown waves are freaking out visitors to the Oregon coast – especially the Seaside area. But there’s nothing inexplicable about it.

“Those folks unfamiliar with this phenomenon may think that the water is polluted or the beaches are dirty,” said Tiffany Boothe of the Seaside Aquarium. In fact, tourists have been enquiring at local businesses about the brown goo.

For over 80 years a favorite of Seaside visitors. 51 oceanfront condos, individually owned and decorated. Suites for couples, small apartments with fireplaces and kitchenettes, one or two bed family units with fireplaces, kitchens and dining rooms. Oceanview cottages sleep anywhere from two to eight, w/ two bedrooms, some with lofts, fireplaces and kitchens. Heated outdoor pool, enormous grounds w/ picnic tables - all at quiet southern end of Seaside.

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“Seaside is experiencing a large diatom bloom, which is painting the surf brown and littering the beach with foam,” Boothe said.

Close up of diatom-caused brown foam (photo Boothe)

Diatoms are the tiny phytoplanktons that actually form the sea foam that you see on the beaches.

With the calm conditions the coastal beaches are seeing now, after the stormy winds and high, broiling surf of Monday that churned up lots of foam, there’s a large amount of stuff all over the beaches. But especially foam and its creators – diatoms – have been roughed up and agitated into making a big appearance.

The result is waves with a lot of brown in them, brown goo lying around the beaches in the form of foam, and large tracts of dark, oily-looking spots on the sand.

Foam coalescing on the beach (photo: Boothe)

The phenomenon is happening all over the coast, but especially around Seaside. In Gearhart, Cannon Beach Fultano’s Pizza owner David Johnson spotted quite a bit of the ruddy stuff in the waves earlier Tuesday.

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He also saw it in Cannon Beach.

“It’s there,” Johnson said. “You can see it on the waves and on the beach, although it’s hard to tell as much now because the tide has gone out. But I’d say it’s a little less than in Gearhart – but not much.”

On the central coast, fossil tour guide and beach expert Guy DiTorrice said there was some in the Newport area. “Some here, but no where near what we've seen with bigger and longer-term storms,” he said. “The north coast really got slammed a lot more than we did.”

Seaside's brown waves, seen from above (photo BeachConnection.net and Seaside Helicopters)

“Is it oil? Sewage? Nope, it’s just diatoms,” Boothe said. “It’s one of the most important food sources in the ocean. In the spring and early summer, the diatoms multiply at the rate of one to two hundred billion in just 30 days.”

Boothe said they eat eat large amounts of nitrates and phosphates and leave behind carbohydrates, fats, proteins and vitamins – often in the sand. “Their bodies also store oil to live on.”

Everything in the ocean feeds on diatoms and other plankton, either directly or indirectly, Boothe said. “Even the great baleen whales filter planktons and diatoms depend on them for part of their diet,” she said.

Brown foam in Lincoln City

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When diatoms get so abundant in the ocean, they may wash ashore during storms or westerly winds. This usually happens early spring, mid summer and early fall.

“When they do wash ashore, and being microscopic, they look like crude oil,” Boothe said. “If you look very closely at a thin layer, you will see it is a dark green, and not a crude oil at all.”

Breathtaking high panoramic beach views from oceanfront rooms, spacious family suites & fully equipped cottages.  Known for gracious hospitality, the sparkling clean Sea Horse features a heated indoor pool, dramatic oceanfront spa, great whale watching, free deluxe continental breakfast, conference room, free casino shuttle & HBO.  Fireplaces, private decks and spas are available in select rooms.  Close to shops, golf, fishing & restaurants.  Pets are welcome in select rooms.  Senior discounts.  Kids 18 and under stay free in their parent's room.  Very attractive rates. A similar massive bloom of phytoplankton happened in spring, again concentrated in the Seaside area. There, the waves were thick with the stuff, causing the water to be very brown.

Nearby Cannon Beach also had quite a bit, and the diatoms were making an impression all the way down to the central coast, although not nearly as prominent. After about a week, the rest of the coast lost the foamy phenomenon, while Seaside’s run of russet ripples remained.

Boothe said this isn’t that uncommon. “It happens a lot, really,” she said. “A couple weeks ago, we had a lot of people asking if it was pollution.”

20 gorgeous homes sleep up to 18; doubled that with some side-by-side homes. Some pet friendly. Cottages to massive homes; new oceanfront to renovated historic beach houses. All over central coast w/ Lincoln City, Otter Rock, Boiler Bay and Nye Beach. Long list of features, including barbecues, large decks, antique furnishings, wood stoves, gas fireplaces, hardwood floors, Jacuzzis and hot tubs. Most have movies, music, books. Gift basket w/ goodies in each
Condo-hotel that offers the amenities of a fine hotel, but also includes ownership of a vacation home on the north Oregon coast. It is a unique opportunity, as condo owners have an opportunity to share in the revenues of their unit. All have either spectacular, nearly aerial views of the ocean and city, or they gaze out at the lush forests of the coast range mountains. There are private balconies in all rooms, which come as studios or units with one bedroom or two - as large as 850 square feet. Each is fully furnished. $189,000 to $449,000, (with most in the $300,000 range.) When owners are not using their units, they may be rented out as hotel rooms, and owners may share in those revenues.

A1 Beach Rentals, Lincoln City. Perfect for large family vacations all the way down to a getaway lodging for two - with over 25 vacation rental homes to choose from. A breathtaking collection of craftsman or traditional beachfront homes, or oceanview houses – from one to seven bedrooms. In various areas of Lincoln City and overlooking the beach, with some in Depoe Bay. All kinds of amenities are available, like hot tubs, decks, BBQ, rock fireplaces, beamed ceilings and more. Some are new, some are historic charmers. Lincoln City, Oregon. 1-(503)-232-5984. www.a1beachrentals.com.


D Sands Condominium Motel, Lincoln City. Free, fresh baked cookie upon check-in is just the start. All rooms beachfront and up against Lincoln City's most famous stretch of beach: the D River. Each room comes as a suite or mini-suite, and has a kitchen and balcony or patio. Some w/ gas fireplaces, while all have a DVD Players; movies to rent come with free popcorn. Heated indoor pool, a spa, and this fabulous beach is lit at night. Rooms sleep from two, four to six - including a deluxe fireplace suite. Gift certificates orspecial occasion packages. www.dsandsmotel.com. 171 S.W. Highway 101. 800-527-3925.


Arch Cape Property Services. Dozens of homes in that dreamy, rugged stretch between Cannon Beach and Manzanita known as Arch Cape. Oceanfront and ocean view , or just a short walk from the sea.
All homes are immaculate and smoke free; some pet friendly (with a fee). Some with broadband, indoor or outdoor hot tubs, fireplaces, decks, and fire pits or barbecues. Call about tempting winter specials that go until March (not valid holidays, however). www.archcaperentals.com 866-436-1607.


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Lincoln City Vacation Homes Something for everyone: smaller homes with a view to a large house that sleeps 15. All are either oceanfront or just a few steps away – all with a low bank access and fantastic views. Most are in the Nelscott area; one is close to the casino. You’ll find a variety of goodies: fireplaces, multiple bedrooms, dishwashers, Jacuzzis, washer/dryers, hot tubs, cable TV, VCR, barbecues; there’s a loft in one, and another sprawling home has two apartments. Pets allowed in some homes – ask first. Each comes with complete kitchens. Most have seventh night free. Prices range from winter $85 to summer $230 per night. www.getaway2thecoast.com. 541-994-8778.


Tradewinds Motel, Rockaway Beach. All rooms are immaculate and have TV’s, VCR’s and in-room phones w/ data ports. Oceanfronts have queen bed, a double hide-a-bed, kitchen, cozy firelog fireplace and private deck. Both types sleep up to four people. Others are appointed for a two-person romantic getaway, yet still perfect for those on a budget. Elaborate oceanfront Jacuzzi suite has two bedrooms, kitchen, double hide-a-bed, fireplace and private deck, sleeping as many as six. For family reunions or large gatherings such as weddings, some rooms can connect to create two-room and three-room suites. Some rooms pet friendly. 523 N. Pacific St., Rockaway Beach. (503) 355-2112 - 1-800-824-0938. www.tradewinds-motel.com


Inn At Spanish Head, Lincoln City. Lincoln City’s only resort hotel built right on the beach with all oceanfront rooms - nestled against a rugged cliffside overlooking a soft, sandy beach. Dine in penthouse restaurant and bar, for casual meal or candlelight dinner. An array of seafood specialties, juicy steaks and other Northwest favorites, including decadent Sunday buffet. Rooms range from bedrooms to studios to 1-bedroom suites with microwaves and refrigerators to full kitchens. Also, wi-fi, spa, saunas, exercise room and year-round heated swimming pool. Kids will love the game room and easy beach access. Full-service conference/meeting rooms for that inspirational retreat; extensive wedding possibilities. 4009 SW Highway 101, Lincoln City. 1-800-452-8127 or 541-996-2161. www.spanishhead.com


Inn at Cannon Beach. Beautifully wooded natural setting at quiet south end of Cannon Beach. Great during winter storms with a new book by the fireplace – or when the sun is out for family fun and beach strolling. Handsome beach cottage-style architecture. Lush flowering gardens and naturalized courtyard pond. Warm, inviting guest rooms. Continental buffet breakfast. Warm Cookies. Family and Pet Friendly. Welcome gifts. Smoke-free. Complimentary Wireless Connectivity. Wine and book signing events. 800-321-6304 or 503-436-9085. Hemlock At Surfcrest, Cannon Beach, Oregon. www.atcannonbeach.com.

The Ocean Lodge. There will not be another property built like this in Cannon Beach in our lifetimes. Rare, premiere ocean front location; handsome, dramatic architecture and tasteful, fun (nostalgic) beach interiors. Overlooks Haystack Rock. 100 percent smoke free. Imaginative special occasion packages. Massive wood burning lobby fireplace. Library w/ fireplace, stocked with impressive book collection. Pet and family friendly. Lavish continental buffet breakfast. In-room fireplaces, mini-kitchens. Jacuzzi tubs in select rooms. DVD players, complimentary movies. Morning paper. Warm cookies. 888-777-4047. 503-436-2241. 2864 Pacific Street. Cannon Beach, Oregon. www.theoceanlodge.com


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