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Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Wadport, Yachats & Florence.


It's Fall on the Coast: Summer is Here Again.


Oregon Coast Dead Zone Exiting, Leaves Small Mark on Tourism

Sea floor filled with decaying sea life (photos courtesy OSU)

(Oregon Coast) - Oregon scientists say a particularly deadly and devastating dead zone off the Oregon coast has officially ended, with oxygen levels returning to normal and expected to continue increasing.

In the middle of October, winds along the coastline made their usual shift from summer southward-blowing winds to fall and winter northward-blowing winds, halting the main culprit behind the deadly low oxygen levels: upwellings from deep in the ocean.

Scientists at Oregon State University say they will continue keeping an eye on the area with more new technology and seek more funding to study the phenomenon. Work is already underway to detail the damage caused by the event, which has broken all records by being the fifth such dead zone in recent years, and larger and longer lasting than any other.

In the meantime, researchers say this event had some other interesting side effects in the world of fishing, crabbing and scientific oddities like the “glowing sand” phenomenon that may be not so bad, even as they express concerns about the marine ecosystem’s ability to handle such large intrusions. There may have been a few unusual and not thoroughly unpleasant impacts to the coast’s tourism industry.

Researchers dropping equipment into the ocean

Francis Chan - a marine ecologist with OSU and the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, or PISCO – said the numbers of the event were off the charts. “We’ve seen these events each year since 2002, but it’s normally not this low in oxygen and causing this much death in the ocean as it is this year,” Chan said.

Levels of dissolved oxygen below 1.4 milliliters per liter are considered hypoxic to marine life. This dead zone had many areas well below that, sometimes 10 to 30 times lower than normal. Other areas were nearly at zero. The boundaries of the zone were apparently from Cape Perpetua up to Cascade Head, near Lincoln City, and out to sea as far as 12 miles. Chan said it could have been larger, as they were only able to test so much of the area.

Scientists said winds were stronger and more persistent from the north, which caused more upwelling conditions. During the summer, these conditions always exist, but not to the degree as in recent years. This apparently created more of the upwelling conditions and higher levels of hypoxia.

Waters of Newport

Scientists are puzzled by these shifts in wind tendencies, and believe this is another reason for increased scrutiny of the ocean on a much wider scope. Adding to the confusion is the movement of these hypoxic areas: they would move in all directions.

Tradewinds Motel, Rockaway Beach

If expansive ocean views, close proximity to golfing, fishing tours and quick access to seven miles of pristine beaches is your thing, then this quintessential beauty in Rockaway Beach is your ticket to vacation fun for families, couples or large groups. Some rooms are pet friendly. All rooms at the Tradewinds Motel are immaculate and have TV’s, VCR’s and in-room phones with data ports. The oceanfronts all have a queen bed, a double hide-a-bed, kitchen, cozy firelog fireplace and a private deck. Some oceanfront units come with all those amenities but the kitchens. Both types sleep up to four people. The non-oceanfront rooms are appointed with a queen bed, small fridge, and coffee maker – sizable for a two-person romantic getaway, yet still perfect for those on a budget. There is an elaborate oceanfront Jacuzzi suite that has two bedrooms, coming with a kitchen, double hide-a-bed, fireplace and private deck, sleeping as many as six. For those wanting bigger accommodations for family reunions or large gatherings such as weddings, some rooms can connect to create two-room and three-room suites. 523 N. Pacific St., Rockaway Beach. (503) 355-2112 - 1-800-824-0938. www.tradewinds-motel.com

The upwelling process is a normal one, say scientists, but wind conditions caused an extreme case of these processes. This kind of upwelling brings up more nutrients, which are then consumed by phytoplankton and other forms of marine life.

This event was a bit like a vicious circle in the circle of life in the deep: a self-perpetuating set of conditions that could only go away when storms or certain wind conditions begin churning up the sea – as they have now.

After organisms like fish, invertebrates and phytoplankton die because of the low oxygen, their decaying bodies suck more air out of the environment and add toxic gases as well.

A third situation adds even further. “These upwellings are rich in nutrients and cause large blooms of phytoplankton,” Chan said.

The result is more bodies to decay in the area.

The deeper waters contain less oxygen because they are further from the air. “The ocean is in layers,” Chan said. “And the deeper you go, the more the layers do not have contact with the air. It’s like they’re capped, with various layers in between them and the surface, including large amounts of phytoplankton, keeping it all away from the atmosphere.”

D Sands Condominium Motel, Lincoln City. Getting a free, fresh baked cookie upon check-in is just the beginning. Every room is beachfront, and it's all right up against Lincoln City's most famous stretch of beach, next to the D River. Each room, comes as a suite or mini-suite, and has a kitchen and balcony or patio. Some have gas fireplaces, while all have a DVD Players with movies available for renting (and movie rentals come with free popcorn). There's a heated indoor pool, a spa, and this fabulous beach is lit at night. Rooms sleep anywhere from two, four to six - including a deluxe fireplace suite. Gift certificates are available, and they offer special occasion packages as well. To make a reservation and see a virtual tour of the rooms, visit our website at www.dsandsmotel.com. 171 S.W. Highway 101. 800-527-3925.

Chan said it was a banner year for phytoplankton blooms. This could explain the reported abundance of sightings of “glowing sand” during the summer months – a phenomenon rare in Oregon that’s caused by a kind of phytoplankton that is bioluminescent. Beachgoers could see small, bluish, green sparks in the sand at night, caused by washes of bioluminescent diatoms called dinoflagellates.

The irony is that the dead zone may have had a couple positive side effects for tourism on the coast, between the glowing sand and crabbing in the region. There have been reports this summer of massive crab catches in the bays of Newport and Waldport, and many scientists in Oregon agree that it’s likely the dead zone chased populations of crab into areas more convenient for humans to grab them.

Still, in other instances, these marine creatures appeared to be fleeing from the changing patches of hypoxic areas, creating good fishing and crabbing one day in a certain spots and not so good there the next day.

Scientists expect this event to reappear next year, so more observation is in order.

A submersible glider of sorts will monitor the ocean in the Newport area, providing detailed information for the first time during the winter season. A buoy with sophisticated electronics will also be in the area, measuring biological productivity, dissolved oxygen, temperature, salinity, current velocity and other data.

Video footage of the phenomenon is available here

A graphic showing the zone during the summer is here


THE TIDES BY THE SEA, Seaside. For over 80 years, The Tides has been a favorite of Seaside visitors. History meets modern luxury here. 51 oceanfront condos, individually owned and decorated. Find suites for couples, small apartments with fireplaces and kitchenettes, one or two bedroom family units with fireplaces, kitchens and dining rooms. There are wonderful oceanview cottages that sleep anywhere from two to eight people, with two bedrooms, some with lofts, fireplaces and kitchens.
Meanwhile, the heated outdoor pool, enormous grounds with picnic tables and location at the quiet southern end of Seaside make for some memorable means of play and repose. 2316 Beach Drive. 800-548-2846. www.thetidesbythesea.com.



STARFISH POINT is located on the Central Oregon Coast - in Newport - and offers only the finest in luxury condominium lodging. At Starfish Point, every unit is focused on the beauty of the sea and the beach.
All of the units boast two bedrooms, two bathrooms, designer kitchens, wireless broadband Internet, fireplaces, Jacuzzi’s and private decks - surrounding you in soothing relaxation. We have a friendly staff dedicated to high quality and superb customer service. 140 NW 48th Street, Newport. (541) 265-3751. (800) 870-7795. www.starfishpoint.com


Weiss' Paradise Suites & Vacation Rentals - Seaside

Unique Luxury Accommodations in Seaside. 1BR Suites, 1BR & 2BR Duplex Units and 3BR Houses, units for 2-8 people. Rent our entire property for 20-26. All units close to beach, river and Broadway St.
Suites are designed for two adults; vacation rental units for families. All units have kitchen and many have fireplace, deck and jetted tub. Enjoy comfy robes & slippers, luxury bath amenities, quality linens and more. See us on The Travel Channel's "Great Escapes" show in August 2006. 741 S. Downing St., Seaside. 800-738-6691. www.SeasideSuites.com


Lincoln City Vacation Homes There’s something for everyone among this selection of wondrous homes: smaller homes with a view to a large house that sleeps 15. All the homes are either oceanfront or just a few steps away from the sand – all with a low bank access and fantastic views. Most are in the Nelscott area; one is close to the casino. You’ll find a variety of goodies, depending on the home: fireplaces, multiple bedrooms, dishwashers, Jacuzzis, washer/dryers, hot tubs, cable TV, VCR, barbecues; there’s a loft in one, and another sprawling home has two apartments. Pets are allowed in some homes – ask ahead. Each comes with complete kitchens so you’ll have a home away from home. Most have the seventh night free. Prices range from winter $85 to summer $230 per night. www.getaway2thecoast.com. 541-994-8778.


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