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Really Curious on Coast of Oregon: Eating the Beach, Glowing Sand

Published 08/09/2014

Really Curious on Coast of Oregon: Eating the Beach, Glowing Sand

(Oregon Coast) – And now for something completely different. Did you know you can eat some things right off the beach? Did you know the sand sometimes glows at night?

Things get curiouser and curiouser when you start digging a little bit into what's happening on the Oregon coast. Here are two finds that will astound you. (Photo above, Newport: glowing sand on this coast is impossible to photograph, but it looks a little like this night shot of Nye Beach).

According to the Seaside Aquarium's Tiffany Boothe, there is an abundance of edible things you can simply find on the beach.

Sea cucumbers are supposedly quite a delicacy (photo Boothe)

“It’s obvious that most things are edible - it's whether or not you like them,” said Boothe. “You can eat almost all species of snails, clams, octopi and fish. Most aren't going to make you sick.”

Boothe’s research has come up with a list of edibles from your nearest tide pool. The table is set for quite the freaky feast. She says an abundance of things can be consumed by us humans, stuff that most people aren’t aware are edible.

There is a large list here of Oregon coast beach edibles here, and even a recipe.

Here's a reason to hit the beach at night, especially right now in the summer months and early fall. The beaches sometimes glow at night.

They show up in the sand as tiny, greenish-bluish sparks, mostly in wet sand that is near where the tide is at that moment. You'll need to find a very dark beach at night, with no light interference from street lights or the moon.

Giant barnacle (photo Boothe)

Rub your feet in the sand, going backwards, and as the sand kicks up you'll see those tiny flashes of light.

If you're really lucky, they'll be lurking in a pool of water and what you'll see is a sudden galaxy of teeny stars explode under your foot.

The cause is a form of phytoplankton called dinoflagellates: nearly-microscopic plant-creatures that are bioluminescent, like fireflies. They give off a sudden glow when their cell wall is touched. There is more about that here and when and how to find it.

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