180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita,
Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City,
Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.
Oregon Coast Tempest Coughs Up Wacky Things
|Mass of sea stars thrown up on beach (photo Tiffany Boothe, Seaside
(Oregon Coast) – As the majority of the Oregon coast
pulls out of the dark and out from beneath the downed branches, this week
is back to normal for many, and just another week for many more on the
central coast who really didn’t receive much grief from the major
A huge wind and rain storm hit the Oregon coast last week,
with gusts around and over 120 miles per hour in places like Bay City,
Lincoln City, Cape Meares and on the southern Washington coast. Power
was out on the north coast for five to seven days in some spots, while
the central coast didn’t have more than 48 hours worth of outages
– most places less.
While the tourism officials are quick to point how the
area is “back and open for business,” the post-storm oddities
have begun to pop up all around the region, as if to coax the tourists
back in with freaky sights. The central coast hasn’t seen much,
but the north coast is seeing large amounts of sand erosion, prehistoric
forest stumps and a ten-mile stretch of ocean debris that filled with
all sorts of weird things – both living and dead.
|Weird structures unearthed at Hug Point in early 2007 (photo Tom
There are some curious nuggets of nature for people to
see – not to mention glimpses of damage of a historical nature.
Up at Cape Lookout State Park, some of the heaviest erosion
is taking place in the last decade. Like Hug Point, near Cannon Beach,
and the beaches just north of Newport, such annual erosion brought on
by storms and big surf regularly causes odd structures to appear: stumps
from ancient forests that range anywhere from 1000 years old to as much
as 80,000 years old. In Neskowin, they’re now there year-round,
caused by what many state geologists believe to be an ever-eroding coastline.
|Cape Lookout State Park
But in Cape Lookout, the 1000-year-old remnants of what
many call a “ghost forest” is practically a yearly occurrence,
and this storm is what geomorphologist Jonathon Allan believes was their
debut this season.
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“It’s something that regularly re-exposes these,”
In Neskowin, the stumps are about 4,000 years old, according
to Roger Hart, who works with Allan at the Newport office of the Oregon
Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.
Last winter, sand levels were scoured to about six to ten
feet below normal on the north coast, revealing ancient stumps at Hug
Point that Seaside geologist Tom Horning said could be as old as 80,000
years old – although it’s likely they’re around 4,000
years old as well.
|Ghost forest at Neskowin makes a surreal scene
Allan said recent surveys of the Oregon coast haven’t
shown much that has changed dramatically just yet, but Hart is in the
middle of more such surveys.
“That kind of erosion has increased a lot in the
last decade,” Allan said.
Just a bit south, the area around Cape Kiwanda has been
scoured quite a bit, revealing a darker sand. Dunes and cliffs have been
cut into a bit as well.
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“Dune erosion in some places has been 10 feet,”
Allan said. “It’s normal to have one to two meters over a
season,” Allan said. “And in some winters with bigger sea
levels, you get three to four meters.”
|Flattened dunegrass in Seaside
In Seaside, the landscape has changed a bit in some interesting
ways. Right in front of the Seaside
Aquarium, the dune grass is flattened, covered by a thin layer of
sand that blew over in last week’s wintry melee. Just south of there,
on the other side of the Promenade, the dunes look normal.
Tiffany Boothe, with the aquarium, said erosion has really
cut into some of the dunes on the side facing the sea. “You can
see the blades of grass beneath the top layer of sand,” she said.
It was Boothe and aquarium manager Keith Chandler who made
the most startling and dramatic discovery that has come from the storm,
with a ten-mile stretch of sand covered in ocean debris both living and
not. The beaches between Gearhart and Warrenton are literally littered
with various types of marine life.
|Butterfly crab (photo Boothe)
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Boothe said this open tract of sandy beach is usually barren,
with the exception of logs, seaweed, and small shells. But now it’s
crawling with life.
“The storm seemed to take its toll on the marine
life community as well,” Boothe said. “The aquarium crew set
out this morning to take a small survey. We counted 275 sunflower stars
(Pycnopodia helianthoides), 25 giant pink stars (Pisaster brevispinus),
30 skate egg casings (most of which had already hatched), and tons of
giant acorn barnacles (Balanus nubilus).”
|Giant acorn barnacles (photo Boothe)
They collected as many specimens as they could on Monday,
driving the aquarium’s truck along that stretch, then separating
the living from the dead.
“We did recover a few specimens; some larger barnacles,
sunflower stars, leather stars (Dermasterias imbricate), and giant pink
stars. We don't know if they will live or not; they have gone through
quite an ordeal, being picked up off the bottom of the ocean and cast
onto the shore.”
Boothe said another amazing find was an umbrella or butterfly
(Cryptolithodes typicus), found by Brent Boeman. Although the crab was
not alive, its alien-like appearance made it one of the best finds of
|Skate embryo found by Boothe
Along with the numerous sea stars and egg casing were jellyfish,
ascidians, various types of sponge, bryozoans, moon snail shells, hermit
crabs, cockle clams, tubeworms, Dungeness crabs and black skate egg casings.
“Not very often do you come across a black skate
egg casing,” Boothe said. “They are much smaller than the
big skate egg casings, and hundreds of giant barnacles both dead and alive.”
Also quite rare was the leather star, which is hardly ever
seen above water in this part of the Pacific Ocean.
“It was a beachcomber’s haven,” Boothe
said. “All along the tide line were animals you just don't typically
see stranded on shore.”
|Moon Jelly (photo by Boothe)
On the central coast, there were finds. They simply weren’t
as dramatic. “We dodged the bullet in Newport with only temporary
or short-term, scattered power outages,” said Newport beach expert
Guy Dittorice. “Out in the rural areas and further north saw more
damage. They saw a lot more winds too, so more interesting stuff happened
Immediately after the storms of December 3, DiTorrice took
a stroll on the beach during the calm of Tuesday, December 4.
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“Found a couple of commercial crab pot marker floats
and some larger driftwood,” he said. “Sand movement off the
beaches here is minimal with only high-tide line rock showing. Most of
the sand dunes that built up on Agate Beach are pretty well flattened,
with Newport's Big Creek making a near direct flow back out to the ocean.”
|Sundry debris on the beach (photo Boothe)
Since then, DiTorrice said even that sand displacement
seems to have been replaced in the last week.
In some ways, the big storm was a non-event for the Newport
area, and still plays out that way. DiTorrice was in the middle of being
photographed by VIA Magazine Monday, when the photographer asked him about
taking shots of the ancient stumps just north of Newport.
DiTorrice said he pointed him to a barren tract of sand
at Moolack Beach.
they are, I told him,” DiTorrice said. “There under the sand
Terry Morse, another beach expert in Newport, also had
only a little to report. “Nothing major along the stretch of Nye
Beach I usually walk,” Morse said. “I did find sea foam, a
few sea nettle jellies, and one tubeworm washed up on December 4.”
One of two wave sensor buoys that went missing during
the storm was eventually found this week on the Washington coast. Officials
worried about those, as the base area containing the battery could explode
if too much seawater leaked into it.
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here for video of storm aftermath
for Freaky, Creepy Mole Crabs on Oregon Coast Beaches The
little critters make the tideline bubble and feel really weird as they
run across your feet
Transformations of Oregon Coast Beaches Seasons change
and so do beaches, revealing different sides and a variety of eye-popping
Found on Oregon Beach May Be 80,000 Years Old - They
are the remnants of a forest apparently 80,000 years old, found at Hug
or Night Mysteries and Merriment on Oregon Coast It's
more than just nightlife that comes to life, but the beaches offer major
Coast Travel Site Goes Wireless Provides Lodging Reports
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Beach Complete Guide
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Where the Columbia
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lighthouse, upscale yet earthy, a huge monolith, fine eateries
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secret of the coast: Cape Meares, a lighthouse, Oceanside,
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and miles of fluffy dunes