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

Treats, Tide Pools and Trippy Lifeforms at Oregon Coast Nature Events
Oregon's conservation group CoastWatch is hosting a series of fun, interesting and sometimes yummy events. Depoe Bay events, Yachats events
ODFW Reports: Good News for Whales, Crabbing on Oregon Coast
Crabbing is quite good in most spots and your chances of spotting whales are great. Science, kids, travel tips
Three Oregon Coast Hotspots Crammed with Intricate Fun
Here are three such examples of stunning sights and sites that will fill a whole day or more by themselves
Tsunami Walk, Tide Pools and Food at Cannon Beach, N. Oregon Coast Event
A potluck on August 20 also features a film about tsunami preparedness and what this shoreline could expect. Cannon Beach events
Taft's Sand Castle Contest Livens up Central Oregon Coast in August
The 13th is the day that boasts the Taft Beach Sandcastle Contest. Lincoln City events
Two Youths Rescued from Seaside's Surf, N. Oregon Coast; One Dead
Two teenage males were rescued from the surf on the north Oregon coast Thursday. Beach safety
Wild 'n Wacky on Oregon Coast: Freaky Facts, Fossils, Rumors
Fossil finds, bizarre plants, broken records to a curious if not laughable claim about a battle off these beaches. History, science
Workshop Prepares for Stunning Solar Eclipse on Central Oregon Coast in 2017
A group called Multiverse hosts an educational workshop on the total solar eclipse in Lincoln City

Back to Oregon Coast

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