Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

Dark, Oily Waves on North Oregon Coast a Positive Thing

Published 04/03/2011

(Seaside, Oregon) – It's mostly dark brown but sometimes black; and it's oily and greasy looking, showing up in thick globs and patches. It's reminiscent of the Gulf Oil Disaster earlier this year, even leaving mass dark stains on the beaches.

And yet the craziest irony is that it’s a good thing. A very good thing.

Some parts of the surf on the north Oregon coast are much more oily-looking than normal right now. It's actually unnerving - considerably darker than usual. Even though it looks oily and sludgy, it's a sign of a healthy ocean.

Surf in Seaside has a prominent brown tinge to it all around town, which happens rather frequently here because of a form of phytoplankton called dinoflagellates (there are several different kinds of dinoflagellates as well). But right now - at least in one section of this sandy beach - it's extremely brown and gritty looking. Much more so than the rest of Seaside's brownish tint.

It happens because currents move the dinoflagellates here in great abundance, and these currents make some areas look browner than others by pushing more dinoflagellates in. Saturday, there was a 300-foot stretch of Seaside that was almost black in places, while other spots north and south of it were varying degrees of brown.

Dinoflagellates "bloom" in this part of the north Oregon coast in great numbers because of the nutrients carried into the sea by the Columbia River. All the rain the area has had lately might have something to do with the larger blooms, but phytoplankton always bloom more in the spring.

Brown waves in Seaside usually look a little more like this

Normally, the dinoflagellates flood the area and make the breakers a different shade of brown, with the waves often carrying in blobs of brown bubbles or shades of brown. This thick, almost black oily is a bit more than usual – at least to the casual observer, and even to the seasoned observer.

Keith Chandler, manager of Seaside Aquarium, said these extremely dark waves shouldn’t be that shocking anymore to visitors on the north coast.

“It happens all the time,” he said. “It’s probably not even the darkest it’s ever been.”

Chandler said this could end up making razor clamming excellent, as these clams eagerly come to the surface to eat up the dinoflagellates. But so far clamming has not been good, partially because of weather and tide conditions.

“We haven’t had a good set” Chandler said.

The term “set” refers to the testing of numbers of clams.

Brown waves in Seaside

Chandler said large waves and stormy conditions are probably interfering with clamming on this part of the coast. He said he’s been kicked around by some recent tidal surges.

“I was knocked over by a couple of big waves – and I’ve never gotten knocked around by waves in years of clamming,” Chandler said. “I’ve talked to other clammers and they’ve said it hasn’t been good either, because of the stormy conditions.”

Lots of dinoflagellates also results in plenty of other kinds of phytoplankton, which can mean extremely large amounts of foam, which make for spectacular and strange stormy wave action at times. This could also mean the “glowing sand” phenomenon at night, where a form of bioluminescent phytoplankton creates tiny bluish green sparks when walked on in certain wet sand areas. Where to stay for this event - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour

 

More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....

 

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.
Oregon Coast event or adventure you can't miss
Pacific City, Oregon

 


 

LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

Red Flag Warning for Oregon Coast, Heat Advisory in Coast Range
Oregon coast is getting a red flag warning through Thursday night, while the coast range is under a heat advisory. Weather
North Coast Outdoor Events in September Include Inaugural CoastWalk Oregon
September is full of engaging outdoor events on the north Oregon coast. Seaside events, Manzanita events
Total Solar Eclipse in One Year Gives Oregon Coast Extra Time
Depoe Bay and Lincoln Beach will have the most time in darkness in the state. Science
The Crazy, Hazy Tale of a Spectacular Oregon Coast Real Estate Failure
Jump Off Joe is a wacky and twisting, turning bit of history on the Oregon coast, Newport, Nye Beach
Full Sturgeon Moon Tonight for Oregon Coast - Still Some Meteors
Meanwhile, there are still some shooting stars from the Perseids to look for
Warnings for Oregon Coast: Hot Weather Advisory, Fire Dangers
Major hot weather advisories and warnings are going up for beach towns
Seven Wild Facts About the Oregon Coast You Didn't Know
Sand that sings, beaches that glow at night, a hidden ghost town, something crazy the sunset might do - and some wild and wacky history
Take an Oregon Coast Survey - New Seafood Industry Segment Possible
Tell researchers what the Oregon coast means to you in an online survey - and there could be a new segment to the seafood industry

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright BeachConnection.net Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted