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Oregon Coast Funky Factoids: Slowest, Fastest, Lifespans, Sandiest

Published 08/09/2015 at 7:05 PM PDT - Updated 08/09/2015 at 9:05 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff


(Oregon Coast) – Just how long do starfish live? How fast do they go? Have you ever wondered if seagulls would get carded at a bar? Or what about a ghost town on the Oregon coast?

These beaches host a massive array of fun and funky facts that will dazzle and delight, and maybe even augment your time here. A whole gob of these factoids are floating around the head of Seaside Aquarium's Tiffany Boothe, an education specialist at the long-standing attraction.

In fact, according to Boothe, right off the bat there are some fascinating tidbits about the aquarium itself. Did you know that the Seaside Aquarium was the first aquarium in the U.S. to successfully breed harbor seals? Did you know that it is the oldest privately owned aquarium on the west coast?

Stranger still, there used to be a whole floor of apartments at the top of the aquarium. These were abandoned in the 70's, but for a few decades, there were many residing above a working aquarium.

The lifespan of sea creatures and birds is also full of some surprises.

"Some species of rockfish can live over 100 years," said Boothe. "Geoducks, a type of clam, can live for over 140 years, and seagulls can live for over 30 years."

That means some seagulls are technically over 21 years of age. Though it's doubtful they make good drinking buddies.

So who is the fastest and the slowest of Oregon coast sea creatures?

The fastest swimming pinniped is the California Sea Lion at 25 miles per hour. That apparently didn’t help one hapless Sea Lion on the north Oregon coast back in 2006. He wandered into Fort Stevens State park, then managed to get thoroughly lost and began meandering around the streets, scaring traffic. Park officials finally found a way to lead him back to the water after a day or two.

The fastest sea star is the Pacific Sun Star at .027 miles per hour. This means .027 miles per hour translates to 75 cm per minute. Not exactly NASCAR-bound.

Boothe added that starfish have small pinchers called pedicellariae, which catch small animals (such as barnacles) that are attempting to settle on the surface of the starfish. The starfish doesn't necessarily eat the barnacles: they just pinch them off of their surface so they cannot settle on them.

Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who's the sandiest of them all? Something interesting is staring back at you right now, on any given beach.

There is less sand on the beaches of Oregon coast during the winter than during the summer, due to the heavy surf which sweeps the sand away. In fact, that dynamic has had some interesting results in the last few summers, where sand levels have stayed much higher than normal. This creates an unusual situation that mimics a low tide. But it's not – it's high sand.


So much sand piles up that it forms barriers to the tide and keep it out much farther than usual. This allows access to a lot of landmarks who cannot normally get to. Landmarks to look for include Maxwell Point at Oceanside, the elusive arch at Arch Cape and actually being able to get inside the Devil's Punchbowl near Depoe Bay (photo above).

Make sure you see what the tides are doing, and go at the lowest tide possible. These places are not guaranteed to be accessible, either.

This affects how most beaches will look, however. It may seem many of your faves are much longer than usual. Places like Lincoln City, Gleneden Beach,Waldport or Pacific City may appear to be at low, low tides as well.

Also, did you know there was once a thriving resort on the north Oregon coast that quickly became a ghost town?

Above: Bayocean now, but this place was briefly a bustling resort.

What you now see as the Tillamook Spit, miles of what seems like unending dunes and hiking possibilities, was for a brief period a thriving resort town that hosted thousands of people in the summertime. But only 15 years later, the place gradually fell into greater and greater disrepair, eventually becoming a ghost town.

Now, about 100 years later, nothing tangible remains of this place. It is the ghost of a ghost town, completely reclaimed by nature.

What you now see as the Tillamook Spit, miles of what seems like unending dunes and hiking possibilities, was for a brief period a thriving resort town that hosted thousands of people in the summertime. But only 15 years later, the place gradually fell into greater and greater disrepair, eventually becoming a ghost town.

These days, about 100 years later, nothing tangible remains of this place. It is the ghost of a ghost town, completely reclaimed by nature.

Thanks to Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium for many of these. You can find out more about these fun facts and see the creatures involved at the Aquarium, which is on the Prom. (503) 738-6211. More about Oregon coast science. Where to stay in this area - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours

Going around the point at Oceanside

 

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A famous little family eatery where the seafood practically gets shuffled from the sea straight into your mouth. Soups and salads include many seafood specialties, including cioppino, chowders, crab Louie and cheese breads. Fish 'n' chips come w/ various fish. Seafood sandwiches with shrimp, tuna or crab, as well as burgers. Dinners like pan fried oysters, fillets of salmon or halibut, saut�ed scallops.

 

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