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Biggest, Wildest Oregon Coast News Stories of 2023: Whales, Cougars, Shipwrecks, Destruction

Published 12/29/23 at 6:45 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Biggest, Wildest Oregon Coast News Stories of 2023: Whales, Cougars, Shipwrecks, Destruction

(Manzanita, Oregon) – 2023 was definitely a year that made news along the shorelines of Washington and Oregon. Much happened along these beaches, some of which had never happened before. (Cougar: Andy Woo - killer whales courtesy Jaklyn Larsen Photography)

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In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
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In Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach:
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In Yachats, Florence
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Reedsport to Brookings, places to stay; winter deals

Big attractions were altered or even sent down a slow path of destruction. This was a “killer summer” in many respects: lots of killer whales were documented as never before and one cougar held a beach hostage for a time. An injured shark and a magnificent octopus went seriously viral. Some new things were revealed in the night sky, while one part of the coast entered the world of science fiction movies.

These were the top news stories for Oregon Coast Beach Connection of 2023, decided upon by readership numbers and how it may have changed the area.

Right off the bat, January started big with something very new to a lot of folks: Westport, on the Washington coast, has a special glass float drop every winter. This one features the real antiques from Japan, placed in a very unique way for people to find. Washington Coast's Westport Begins Dropping Real Japanese Glass Floats For 2023 .

Just a few days later, whales made the news for the first time this year, with an eyebrow-raising three carcasses ending up on the Oregon coast within a week and a half, with two of them near the Peter Iredale shipwreck. A fourth came up not long after, which was a bit unprecedented. Many readers wanted to tie it all together – as people do – but it was simply a matter of ocean forces and timing creating the coincidence. Fourth Whale Carcass on Oregon Coast in Two Weeks, This Time Cannon Beach, Video.

Courtesy BLM

The wacky octopus caught on video slinking around a part of Newport captured a lot of imaginations. Slinking Octopus Filmed in Yaquina Head Tidepool, Central Oregon Coast

Photo OPRD

Cape Kiwanda decided it wanted the spotlight much of the year, and kicked things off by developing a rather spooky sinkhole. State parks had to cordon off that one quickly, but soon had its hands full as another hole opened up next to it. That drama continues to this day, with the holes getting bigger, and geologists discovering a lot about the cause and where it's all heading. Cape Kiwanda is never going to be the same. Cape Kiwanda's Sinkholes Merging, N. Oregon Coast Landmark a Little More Dangerous.

Photo Pilar French

In April, Cape Kiwanda stole the spotlight again as something new and odd developed in one area. Oregon Coast Beach Connection actually helped make the discovery here, as reader Pilar French tipped us off to these unusual grooves that were happening in the sand. She's helped us make scientific finds in the past, too. New, Rare Sand Feature Atop Cape Kiwanda Wows Oregon Coast Geologists - Video

It turns out, geologists think this is a rare feature for this region.

Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

Some snowy moments in Bandon really caught peoples' eye this year, thanks to an amazing photo essay by photog Manuela Durson. Several thousand readers ate up that story. Above Bandon in Snow: S. Oregon Coast Photographer Captures Wowing New Views.

Spring saw some incredible whale action, as a small army of orcas went marauding in the Depoe Bay area. Unbelievably dramatic video was taken of a small pod attacking a mom and baby gray whale: it was a first for the region to see this documented. Dozens Watch and Document Orcas Attack, Kill Baby Whale on Oregon Coast: More Videos.

Reality Above Oregon Coast / Washington Coast You Didn't Know Was There: Emissions Nebulae
Above: emissions nebulae at Secret Beach near Brookings. Photo Ralf Rohner and on Instagram/Facebook accounts @skypointer2000

Snagging lots of international attention were the stories we did on bizarre space phenomenon that could be seen from these coastlines. Emissions nebulae can only be captured on certain camera equipment, and the south coast's Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor makes a mind-bending backdrop to these. It's just astounding to realize these wild objects are right there all the time, but we can't see them with our own retinas. Interstellar Objects Above Oregon Coast / Washington Coast Only Cameras Can See: Emissions Nebulae.

Courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

In early summer, the wreck of the Sujameco was still very visible near Coos Bay, which strait-up riveted a lot of people, and for good reason. A good 40 thousand folks found these articles and photos interesting. It's an amazing shipwreck remnant. Slow But Epic Oregon Coast Drama, Coos Bay's Sujameco Wreck Still Visible.

Summer's highlight was the crazy tale of a cougar that wound up loitering on Cannon Beach's Haystack Rock. Spotted there one morning, not far from a toddler, a visiting photographer had to warn parents. The big cat rather amusingly stuck around for a bit and created a kind of “standoff.” Tens of thousands of readers dug into this series of articles. More Cougar Sightings Within North Oregon Coast Town, Police Urge Caution.

Also in summer, a huge national audience (meaning often outside of Oregon) snapped up the review of the sci-fi flick 65, which – it turns out – had filming locales in and around Coos Bay and Brookings. 65 Sci-Fi Flick on Streaming: Parts Filmed on S. Oregon Coast - Review

September wound up especially compelling for one couple in Rockaway Beach and then for thousands around the nation: readers gobbled up this account of those who tried to rescue a stranded shark. Couple Spends Half Hour Rescuing Shark on N. Oregon Coast, Possibly Worked - Video.

A big solar eclipse got lots of attention - for awhile, at least. The Great, Big Solar Eclipse Coming to Oregon Coast First: Events, Hotels, Travel Advice, Science

Courtesy Angela Orth

A big deal to so many fans of the coast were recent images of how much of the Peter Iredale had become visible this winter. It's possible it hadn't revealed this much in decades. More of N. Oregon Coast's Wreck of Peter Iredale Showing Than Ever Before: Astoria / Warrenton

Most recently, the reopening of Cape Meares Loop Road near Oceanside after 11 years was a cause for celebration. It allows the Three Capes Loop to become whole once again. Cape Meares Loop Rd. Reopens, N. Oregon Coast's Three Capes is 'Loop' Again After 10 Years

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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