The Staggering Beauty of an 'Ocean Burp' on Oregon Coast
Published 04/21/2016 at 5:11 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff
(Seaside, Oregon) – The term “burp” is almost never associated with anything wondrous and awesome, but if the burp comes from the ocean it's a supreme work of art from nature. (All photos by Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium - who really managed to capture the beauty of this phenomenon).
An ocean burp is an extravagant term for detritus, which essentially means debris. Again, the words belie the beauty of what's really happening, and just that occurred in the last 24 hours at Seaside, on the north Oregon caost. Gobs of stuff from the ocean washed up, creating a large patchwork of dark areas and little treasures.
These create unique beachcombing possibilities, said Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium, and it means the ocean did something interesting out there.
“These small debris fields are usually composed of small bark chips, shells, large tubeworm casings, hermit crabs, algae, kelp, and sometimes even skate egg casings,” Boothe said. “They usually occur because of local upwellings. An upwelling is an oceanographic phenomenon that involves wind-driven motion of denser, cooler, and usually nutrient-rich water towards the ocean surface, replacing the warmer, usually nutrient-depleted surface water.”
What's even more unique here is that these tend to be more of a winter storm occurrence, but springtime can still pull these multifarious stunts out of its hat of tricks as well. It's a bit unusual as the Oregon coast has had quite calm conditions as of late.
“This juggling of water from the bottom of the ocean to the surface often lifts debris, sitting on the seafloor, into the water column,” Boothe said. “As the tide comes in the debris is cast onto shore. At the Seaside Aquarium, we fondly refer to these events as ‘Ocean Burps.' “
Among the fascinating finds you may make with these blobs of detritus is moon snail shells, which are rarely found, except for these circumstances. They are dazzling with their intricate, swirling designs, and can be about the size of a baseball.
Also possibly found are cockleshells and somewhat rare rock finds.
In a few instances, the Seaside Aquarium found live egg casings that later turned into new exhibits. Such as in 2006, when they encountered numerous squid egg casings and some live squid eggs, which were incubated at the aquarium and hatched after six months.
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