Interesting Creatures Sighted Along Oregon Coast Recently
(Oregon Coast) – Possible dolphin sightings, a humpback whale or two, a Fin whale perhaps, a beached shark – all the way down to tiny creatures laying strangely shaped eggs. This has been the interesting sightings along the Oregon coast recently, and many of these tales end with a surprise twist. (Above: a harbor porpoise is often mistaken for a dolphin - photo Seaside Aquarium)
In Neskowin, Proposal Rock Inn owner John Forsythe heard about a dolphin sighting in that Tillamook County beach town recently. After asking Oregon Coast Beach Connection about it, we in turn asked Seaside Aquarium manager Keith Chandler and got a little surprise.
“It was a harbor porpoise,” Chandler said. “They look just like dolphins to the average person.”
Indeed, if you look at the photo at the top of a much sadder harbor porpoise situation – a deceased porpoise that was stranded near Seaside, which the Aquarium had to respond to a few years back – you see it looks very much like a dolphin.
A whale tour in Depoe Bay interacts with a whale
Harbor Porpoises do make their rounds a bit closer to shore during the summer, but they are farther offshore the rest of the year. Still, Chandler said he's seen schools of around 500 of them wandering the coastline.
Recently, the Hatfield Marine Science Center sent out a press release saying there are definitely more kinds of whales to be seen along the Oregon coast than most people realize. Gray whales do have a steady presence in this area, but the center said you can also spot Minke whales and Humpbacks on occasion.
However, Depoe Bay's Carrie Newall begs to differ a bit. Newall runs Whale Research EcoExcursions, which provides boat tours of the area's waters in order to spot whales – and she recently opened the Whale Sea Life and Shark Museum in Depoe Bay. She said you actually have to head out to shore a ways – usually more than ten miles – in order to see whales other than grays.
They can't be seen from shore - and even then it's not very often.
“Minkes are really rare,” Newall said. “I see maybe one a summer.”
But fin whales can make a few appearances and she recently did see a Humpback about ten miles offshore. However, you do have to snag one of the whale watch tour boats to see those, which are in Depoe Bay, Newport's Yaquina Bay and sometimes out of Tillamook Bay on the north Oregon coast.
Newall said your chances of seeing harbor porpoises on one of these tours is fairly decent during summer.
Nudibranch photo above by Seaside Aquarium
In the tiny and strange creature department, Seaside Aquarium is spotlighting a form of nudibranch called a sea lemon right now, as it's just laid some very unusual eggs.
“Sea lemons are a type of nudibranch which are found in our local tide pools,” said Tiffany Boothe of the Aquarium. “They lay lacy ribbon-like egg masses in a spiral pattern.”
Seaside Aquarium staff recently rescued a live soupfin shark found in surf line at the Cove in Seaside. It rehabilitated it for part of the day before a crew from the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport came for it. It died within 24 hours, however.
Below: Garibaldi on Tillamook Bay
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