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Funky Finds on Oregon Coast Now: Mystery Eggs, Ouchy Nettles, Salps, Tube Casings

Published 12/08/20 at 12:55 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Funky Finds on Oregon Coast Now: Mystery Eggs, Ouchy Nettles, Salps, Tube Casings

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(Oregon Coast) – Winter along this shoreline is always a source of surprise, especially as one of the world’s more dynamic beach environments becomes even more varied. Wacky stuff abounds on the sands as storms and west winds push them onshore. (All photos courtesy Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium unless otherwise noted)

A variety of interesting finds were made lately, giving a preview of what you might see while goofing around the beaches.

Sea Nettles. (Photo courtesy Oregon Coast Aquarium). The environmental group CoastWatch has reported another interesting find: gobs of sea nettles (Chrysaora fuscescens) on the sands of Heceta Beach, just north of Florence. There were also plenty of moon jellies.

Moon jellies are essentially harmless, but sea nettles could pose a risk of some rash or stinging, though not usually. Some humans are quite affected by the stinging toxins in jellyfish.

In the wild these can be dangerous, where their 15-foot tentacles can really hurt divers.

Mystery Eggs. Seaside Aquarium’s Tiffany Boothe took a walking survey of beaches of the north Oregon coast this weekend and discovered quite a few finds. This includes a host of mystery fish eggs, which she captured and brought back to the aquarium.

“They are most likely from a species of sculpin,” Boothe said. “Quite possibly cabezon eggs, but we will not know until they hatch, if they hatch. They had been on the beach for a little while before being found but some still seem to be viable.”

Sculpins are brightly-colored fish often found in tidepools.

Funky Finds on Oregon Coast Now: Mystery Eggs, Ouchy Nettles, Salps, Tube Casings

Cellophane Worm Casings. Boothe found a lot of tube worm casings (Spichaetopterus costarum), which are fascinating creatures. They shed their exteriors on the beaches and they wind up looking like electronics of some sort. She said there are considerable piles of them.

“Living just below the low tide line of sandy beaches, cellophane worms build and inhabit these seemingly plastic 'tubes,' which become encrusted with sand,” Boothe said. “Currents and upwellings bring these tubes to the surface, eventually distributing them onto shore.”

Salps. Boothe found lots of these sort of jellyfish-looking creatures as well.

“A salp is a pelagic tunicate,” Boothe said. “Meaning they are tunicates that drift in the mid-water of the ocean. They move by means of jet propulsion, and feeding is accomplished by pumping plankton-laden water through the body where a mucous net is used to extract food particles. They can be found individually or in large aggregations consisting of millions of individuals.

“Tunicates belong to the same phylum as vertebrates. Though as adults they do not have a backbone, developing larvae have a tail, a dorsal nerve cord, and a dorsal stiffening structure (not composed of bone) called the notochord; because of this tunicates are thought to be more closely related to vertebrates such as fish and people.”

Boothe also found a red-eyed medusa on the beach

CoastWatch observers also noted many places popping up with agates recently, including Ocean Beach Picnic Ground on the central Oregon coast. Monday’s storm action will likely result in even more finds from Brookings up to Warrenton.

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