Oregon Officials Tout Big Waves, Wild Foam, Along Coast
(Oregon Coast) – It's all fun and games along the beaches – until it gets even more fun. Huge surf displays and the wild and wacky foam that often come with them were some of what Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) officials were spotlighting when they released a recent recreation report. (Above: Fogarty Beach)
ODFW officials said large waves were really putting on a show this last week and will continue to do so. Some waves topped 30 feet, according to some witnesses.
“The big curlers hurl everything from large logs to small Japanese floats onto the beach making the days following a storm perfect for beach combing,” ODFW said.
ODFW also stressed beach safety even more. (Above: big waves at Pacific City)
“Don't become so entranced by what you find that you stop paying attention to the ocean, however,” ODFW said. “A large wave could do more than just get you wet if it drags you out to sea or causes logs on the beach to shift and injure you. For your safety, don’t turn your back on the ocean and stay off beached logs.”
Sea foam is another major benefit to storm season. It shows up in impressive displays on flat, sandy beaches like those of Seaside, Cannon Beach, Lincoln City or Newport – and not just the rocky spots. But big rocky shelf areas like Yachats or Depoe Bay can make foam do even wilder, crazier things.
“Strong waves and wind injecting air into the ocean and the presence of dissolved organic matter can form sea foam,” ODFW said. “The organic matter is mostly made of dead phytoplankton. The protein from the phytoplankton gives the water enough surface tension to form bubbles.” (at right: Cannon Beach foam).
Surf and winds cause the bubbles to pile up in suds-like masses that are often blown up onto the beach by winds.
ODFW noted some people think this sight of suds is worrisome, but it is a perfectly natural process that helps the ocean purify itself. (Above: monsters waves at Yachats)
“Viewed under a microscope, sea foam contains the extraordinarily beautiful glass-like skeletons of the phytoplankton,” ODFW said.
Sometimes, if the wind is blowing right, it sends massive sea foam chunks onto Highway 101, looking like small snow flurries. Under extremely rare conditions, at Devil's Churn near Yachats, it can actually fly upwards, looking like snow going the wrong direction.
Massive foam at Lincoln City.
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