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That Which Glows Near Florence, Oregon: Neptune's Beach

Published 10/20/2012

(Florence, Oregon) – As the last warm rays of summer hit parts of the central Oregon coast in early October of 2012, some extraordinary things happened. The end of the day exploded into some mind-bending color schemes at one beach between Florence and Yachats. But it also showed off some other incredible aspects of nature.

If you checked the photo blogs and social media that day, you would've seen such sights going viral all over the internet from up and down most of the Oregon coast. Sure, similar colors took place in Cannon Beach, Seaside, Lincoln City and others. Something was different about Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint, however.

In fact, lots of things were different.

Just before the sun had gone down completely, Neptune's bridge and its wobbly cobble stone garden of polished, rounded rocks received a hint of the stunning colors to come.

There's a stream that meanders through Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint and its rocky landscape on its way to the sea, until that geography changes to the softer sands. On this day, just after the sun went down, this stream was lit up and fired up into some amazing shades.

Those colors shifted dramatically sometimes, even after the sun had disappeared. One moment, Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint was fired up in a variety of reds, pinks and other similar shades.

The next, it was a landscape of purple – the surreal kind of place rock star Prince might've felt especially at home at.

Towards the cliffs of Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint, you can see something else remarkable. Besides the ethereal tinting of the scene, you'll notice the tide appears much farther out than usual. Indeed, sand levels got so high here they kept the tide out – giving the beach much more space than normal. Most of the time, the water edges up close to those rock near the cliffs. Now, there's about 100 feet more of the beach than before.

This dynamic was true for much of the Oregon coast during the summer and early fall months: from Cannon Beach down to beyond Yachats, the beaches saw significant changes.

Also, fascinating is the proliferation of heavy blobs of white foam. It's interesting to note this wasn't the case throughout all the beach at this time. Only certain sections had these massive displays of sea fluff.

It's a sign of a healthy ocean, however. Sea foam is largely the result of a lot of diatoms and other kinds of phytoplankton. It's not made up of them, per se, but rather it's the ocean's movement that squeezes air and water into their microscopic skeletons, blowing bubbles. The more diatoms and their skeletons, the more foam.

To see more of Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint and the area between Yachats and Florence, see the Upper Lane County Virtual Tour. To find lodging in the Yachats area click here.


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