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What Is That Wacky Green Goo on the Oregon Coast, Green Slime?

Published 11/03/2011

(Oregon Coast) - It's intriguing looking, it can be smelly, it's often very slippery and it can very easily cause you to fall on your head while on rocky areas of the Oregon coast. It's dark green and it's found everywhere on these shores (above: Oceanside).

What is it?

We are looking at sea lettuce, according to Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium. The technical name is Ulva fenestrata, and Boothe said it is a green macroalgae that's distributed by the ocean from the Bearing Sea to Chile. It's actually found around the world and is composed of eight individual species.

Devil's Punchbowl marine gardens area, near Depoe Bay

Boothe said it is a very important food source as it feeds a myriad of sea critters. Sea urchins, crabs, nudibranch and even fish feed on this delicious plant.

But the surprise is you could – technically – munch on it while on the beach.

Devil's Punchbowl marine gardens area, near Depoe Bay

“It is also consumed by humans in soups, salads, and as a substitute for nori (the popular seaweed used in preparing sushi rolls) in sushi,” Boothe said. “Nutritionally, it is very healthy. Not only is it high in iron and protein, it is also packed full of vitamins and minerals. In Scotland, Ulva has become quite popular.”

Boothe said sea lettuce can be found attached to hard substrates, such as pebbles, shells, or rocks, or they are free floating in calm bays and estuaries.

Southern end of Cannon Beach

You'll typically find it on low-lying intertidal areas at mostly rocky areas, like those at Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Yachats, Oceanside, Depoe Bay and more. You won't find it on sandy beaches like Seaside, Waldport, Newport or Lincoln City, unless there are patches of rocks around the tide line.

Still, there's more going on in these photos.

“I think you may be looking at two or three different species of seaweed, each with their own distinct characteristic and story.” Boothe said.

Hug Point, near Cannon Beach - this is likely algae

The brighter green stuff may well be an algae, Boothe said, but she wasn't positive. It was likely a thing called Green Tuft (Cladophora columbiana), which is commonly found on Pacific coast beaches.

For an added jolt, Boothe even provided a recipe for the Oregon coast staple of sea lettuce, should you care to try and test your palate with the stuff.

For those who are adventurous and like to try new things: here is a traditional Sea Lettuce Soup recipe.

Sea Lettuce Soup
4 cups Chicken Stock (I prefer miso to chicken stock)

2 sheets Sea Lettuce (if using fresh Ulva. be sure to rinse it well in cold water to remove any lingering sand and cut it into bite size pieces)

2 Eggs

Salt and Pepper

½ tsp Sesame Oil (optional)

1 or 2 Green Onion Stalks

Bring chicken stock to a boil. Add sea lettuce and stir. When sea lettuce is soft, stir in well-beaten eggs and boil for a few seconds then remove from heat. Ad salt and pepper to taste. Add sesame oil, and garnish with onion. Where to stay in this area - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours


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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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