Odd Delights of Oregon Coast Summer They Never Talk About
(Oregon Coast) – From the Green Flash at Sunset, glowing sand at night, to even shooting stars and a bug-eating plant, there's actually quite a bit the local tourism entities aren't telling you. (Above: green flash at sunset)
One of the biggies of the coastline is enjoying those spectacular last rays of the day. That's a given. But there is a rare occurrence known as the "Green Flash at Sunset," which is a little more apt to happen during summer's lovely weather and fall's "Second Summer" on the coast.
The right conditions have to be present, but what you'll see is a brief green flash directly above the sun, just before the last sliver dips below the horizon. This can only happen on a day of no clouds, and it’s the result of a variety of conditions that block out certain color bands for a split second. A little more frequent - but harder to discern - is a slightly longer, green blob that lingers just above the sunset.
Essentially, this is known as refraction. The term describes light being bent because of atmospheric conditions. In the case of the green flash, all the color bands except the green get bent and knocked out from view, leaving only green. Even more on this and another similar effect: Rare Oregon Coast Science: Novaya Zemlya Effect, Glowing Sand.
This scientific oddity was for years a source of ridicule for people claiming to see it, but by the 70's it was actually documented on film.
Southern Cannon Beach - at night.
Another surprise is a serious rarity known as the “singing sands.”
This actually happens only on two spots on the coast: in some areas of the National Dunes Recreation Area south of Florence and just south of Cannon Beach. Sometimes, it sounds like distant voices singing. Others, it's a bit like a violin or an odd, elongated squeaking noise. This, too, only happens under certain conditions, when two different kinds of sands grind together under the right degree of humidity.
The singing sands is a tiny bit more frequent in the Dunes area than near Cannon Beach. Even so, park rangers who've worked at the Dunes for 20 years haven't heard it. It's extremely rare.
Gleneden Beach at night
As summer progresses, you'll have a better chance of catching the "glowing sands," although it's possible to spot it any time of year if the right conditions have been present. If you find yourself at the tide line on a really dark beach, you may see a strange, green/bluish spark coming from the sand kicked up by your feet. This is caused by tiny, bioluminescent phytoplankton called dinoflagellates, which glow in a manner not too dissimilar from fireflies.
Conditions to look for: a sunny day at the end of a few days of rain and rough seas. This increases the chances of bringing the little fellas to shore. It's best to look near the tide line, but especially wet sand that has been around a while but not getting constantly hit by waves.
It is impossible to photograph without the right scientific equipment.
Skies above Cannon Beach
For something rather unusual but guaranteed, wait until August and the yearly meteor showers that hit the Earth. While these are easily spotted anywhere on a clear night, cloudless coastal nights allow especially crystal clear views of this. The big shower is in August, but keep your eyes open on clear nights anytime on the coast and you’ll run a good chance of catching a particularly spectacular show – even if only for a split second. It’s unforgettable.
Another wild bit of summer fun on the Oregon coast is found In the Florence area. The Darlingtonia Wayside features insect-chomping plants that mostly live between there and northern California. These rarities sit around, just waiting to catch bugs with their sticky parts, then slowly digest them. Bugs get lured by the colors and smells they find attractive, and they soon find themselves confused by clear areas that look like exits, only to get sucked into sticky parts that eventually cause their demise. They are slowly sucked down and melted into plant food.
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