Video: Glowing Creatures Caught on Oregon Coast; More Purple Critters
(Wheeler, Oregon) – Things that are purple and things that glow. These are among the fascinating finds along the Oregon coast right now, with a rare and stunning video of bioluminescent creatures on the north coast and more velella velella hitting the beaches. (Stills and video courtesy Angelina Martin).
It is downright nearly impossible to photograph on the Oregon coast, but one amateur videographer got some stunning video of glowing phytoplankton. Portlander Angelina Martin snapped this amazing video of a friend swimming in the Nehalem Bay this week, with the girl's body creating trippy, iridescent glows as she moves through mounds of phytoplankton called dinoflagellates.
The video is below; there is one swear word emitted.
The phenomenon is known as “glowing sand” when it shows up on beaches, but it's generally way too faint and far too brief to show up with even the highest ASA setting on a professional camera. But Martin's mere cellphone video feature captured this in the bay at Wheeler, just around the corner from Manzanita and about eight miles from Rockaway Beach.
The strong presence of the dinoflagellates in the inland salt waterways means you can definitely find it on the beaches these days. Find a dark beach with little or no light interference (like the moon or city lights), and stick to the wet sand areas where the tide has been recently. Scuffle your feet backwards and you should see tiny, greenish/blue sparks erupt beneath your feet.
Swimming in these conditions is a favorite pastime of many Nehalem Bay area residents. Locals say it makes your body “look like a skeleton” as you move through the water.
This is clearly a heavy presence of these microscopic critters, which means darker areas of Manzanita, Rockaway and Cannon Beach will likely reveal quite a few. Other beaches like Hug Point and Arch Cape should also be good for this.
Chances are also high you'll find it in central Oregon coast towns like Pacific City, Lincoln City, Gleneden Beach, Newport and on either side of Yachats where the shores are not rocky.
Keep safety in mind while on the beach in the dark, carry a flashlight and keep your eye on the tide.
Purple sails have again returned to the coast. Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium passed along more photos of the creatures, known as velella velella. They are a kind of jellyfish.
“Purple Sails do not sting their prey; they capture their food with small sticky tentacles,” Boothe said. “Velellas feed on fish eggs and small planktonic copepods. Found in most oceans, Purple Sails are frequent visitors to the Oregon coast. They can reach a size of 4 inches in length and 3 inches in width.” (Velella photo below courtesy Boothe).
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