Japanese Glass Fishing Floats Return to Oregon Coast - Briefly
(Oregon Coast) – They haven't really been seen in decades – at least in any great numbers. But now they've returned for a little while, dotting Oregon beaches to the delight of many.
Glass Japanese floats were a common sight on Oregon's beaches throughout most of the 20th century, and there’s still bunches of them decorating various beach houses along the coast – especially visible in Rockaway Beach. Prior to World War II, they almost covered Oregon beaches. But by the 70’s or 80’s, they largely disappeared, as Japan stopped making them for their fishermen and the currents had fewer of them to toss up onto these shores.
They can still be found if you know how and when to look, but they are nowhere near common. In recent weeks, they have all of a sudden returned in larger numbers. Locals and tourists alike have reported dozens on the central and north coast.
There were enough reports from various officials to quantify perhaps as many as 100 found between Newport and Astoria.
One estimate that had been going around by word of mouth was 200 found in Clatsop County alone, but that could not be confirmed.
Nala Cardillo is coordinator of the Haystack Rock Awareness Program in Cannon Beach.
“It’s true: I did find a small turquoise ball float on Crescent Beach and a small turquoise rolling pin float on Chapman Beach a few weeks ago,” Cardillo said.
She too has heard of numerous people making their own glass float finds.
Steve Meshke, head of Clatsop County Parks, said he found one himself and heard of quite a few.
“I did find one glass float on the eve of April 16, up north near Fort Stevens State Park,” Meshke said. “It was about 12 inches in diameter and had netting on it. A couple of people I know found some floats during the same time frame - a total of five floats between them. I had heard reports that one person had really been hunting the beaches during that time period and they found twenty glass floats over the week period.”
One of the first to be found was by a couple staying at Shaw’s Oceanfront BnB in Arch Cape in early April.
David Woody, the central coast beach ranger for Oregon State Parks, also knew of a few. “There were several found south of Newport more than a month or so back but none reported to me lately,” Woody said.
John Forsythe owns Proposal Rock Inn in Neskowin, and has found a few over the years.
“My wife and I found two glass floats recently on the beach at Neskowin,” he said.
Cindy Hanson, Public Relations Manager for Oregon Coast Aquarium, had a group of friends that found several around Newport.
“They found three found at Agate Beach and two at South Beach,” she said. “He was with a group of people out razor clamming.”
The Agate Beach Motel in Newport also reports several guests happened across some.
Keith Chandler, manager of Seaside Aquarium, hadn’t found any himself. But he said the culprit behind all this is a lot of west winds in recent weeks. These have been hitting the coast for a good month now, resulting in all sorts of flotsam being washed up on these beaches as the winds push stuff up onshore.
Currently, the beaches look as if the SOLV beach clean-up never happened. Loads of unsightly plastic bottles litter every shore in Oregon, along with bunches of rope, Styrofoam and all sorts of other puzzling objects. This is the result of west winds blowing them onto beaches.
Nature herself can be a big litterbug – it seems.
These conditions are a little unusual for the coast this time of year, although the weather pattern that’s creating it isn’t.
Dave Elson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland, said there’s been a pretty active storm track throughout April that has resulted in a lot of winds from the west – known as onshore winds.
“We’ve had record rainfall this April,” Elson said. “We’ve had a lot of days in the 60’s and not in the 70’s.”
These conditions are often the result of onshore winds from the Pacific. East winds usually warm things up a bit.
“We’ve got an extended period of more onshore winds than offshore winds,” Elson said.
All this will likely last a while, Elson said, as this coming week’s forecast looks a lot like last week’s.
This means conditions could be good for more finds of these coveted treasures for a little while longer.
Those looking to find their own fishing floats won’t necessarily have an easy time, however. They’re still rather hard to find. But there are some tips.
Cardillo admits it will take a lot of good luck.
“I was cleaning up trash on the beach, and walking my dog, so I was out on the beach frequently,” Cardillo said.
Because she was cleaning trash, her eyes were trained on things not from nature – something she suggests if you’re going to look for your own.
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