Masses of Pelicans Reported on Some Parts of N. Oregon Coast
(Seaside, Oregon) - Parts of Seaside's shoreline has been seeing some frenzied bird activity – because, in turn, of even more frenzied baitfish activity in the area. Earlier this week, numerous locals reported seeing an extra large amount of pelicans in the cove, at the southern end of town. (Masses of pelicans in Depoe Bay a few years ago: photo courtesy Morris Grover).
This can sometimes mean tons of pelicans are also at the very northern end of town, at the Necanicum River, but there are no confirmed reports yet.
Pelicans and other birds show up in great numbers when there are lots of baitfish around, which is usually anchovies, herring and schade for the Oregon coast. Pelican, terns and seagulls all flock to gobble up these fish, and seeing large groups of birds can make for prime bird watching opportunities.
When there is a big run of anchovies, this in turn can be a sign of a large upwelling from deeper in the ocean. These incidents of colder water from below bring up more nutrients, which attracts the next step in the Pacific Ocean's food chain – the baitfish.
Keith Chandler, manager of Seaside Aquarium, said it's no real surprise to locals, even if it doesn't happen every year.
“Pelicans, terns and gulls all show up to eat them,” Chandler said.
Huge anchovy runs have made some bizarre incidents in the past on the north coast. Such as in 2007, there were so many of them flooding one of the local rivers that they choked off the oxygen supply in the water and some of the shorelines were clogged with rotting, dead fish.
This, however, caused tons of birds to show up and they eventually cleaned up the mess.
Periodically, so many anchovies show up in the river that there is a crazed feeding frenzy of local birds. One in August of 2007 was so wild that the fish actually hopped out of the water at times.
Pelicans have been known to literally herd the baitfish into larger clumps so they are easier to chomp on.
Such cold upwellings from the ocean can also be a sign of other interesting aspects to look for, like the “glowing sand” phenomenon at night on the beaches. This is where tiny, greenish blue sparks can be seen at your feet, usually in the wet sand, on a very dark beach.
These are caused by a form of phytoplankton called dinoflagellates which are bioluminescent, like fireflies. They often appear in huge numbers this time of year anyway, but such an occurrence of lots of baitfish can also be a sign that the glowing creatures are in abundance as well.
Keywords: biology, cannon beach, pelicans, cape kiwanda, Yachats, Depoe Bay, Newport, Lincoln City, Oceanside, Astoria, Oregon coast, science.
Below Seaside's Necanicum River
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