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Late Fall Fun on Oregon Coast: Tidepools, Birds, Mammal Spotting

Published 11/16/2019 at 3:25 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Late Fall Fun on Oregon Coast: Tidepools, Birds, Mammal Spotting

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(Oregon Coast) – What’s to find on the beaches these days? The entire Oregon coast is going through an unusually calm fall, where wintry storm conditions usually start tearing up the beaches and lowering sand levels. It also makes for precarious surf as well, and plenty of caution is often needed. (Above: a sea lion makes a wacky visit to Warrenton docks several years ago - courtesy Seaside Aquarium).

Not so much this time of year, however. Also, a lack of storms means not many things are washing up as usual or getting uncovered dropping sands.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and their weekly updates provide plenty of fun and funky sights these days, however. A bevy of beachy stuff awaits - even up into the Washington coast.

Right now, as fall turns towards winter, all sorts of shorebirds are migrating along the Oregon coast. ODFW said jetties, beaches and bays will yield lots of sightings, especially in the bays as they feed during mid-low tide, hanging out at the water’s edge.

The agency said what you’ll most likely spot about now are whimbrel, marbled godwit, semi-palmated plover, dunlin, sanderling, and western sandpiper. The black oystercatcher and western snowy plover are less common species and are protected resident species.

“If you go out at peak low tide, the birds may be too far out to ID depending on the tide,” ODFW said.

Looking for marine mammals? To catch sight of harbor seals or sea lions in the wild. Look to the bays, ODFW said, as they’re often lounging on piers, tideflats, or sandbars – and they’re entertaining as hell to watch. Great locations for viewing include the South Jetty of the Columbia River, sandbars in Netarts Bay (at Netarts), near the mouth of the Siletz River at Lincoln City, and especially Newport’s Yaquina Bay between the jetties and along the bay front. On the southern Oregon coast, check out the sandbars and beaches near the mouth of Alsea Bay, Cape Argo, Rouge Reef, and Simpson Reef. A rarer sighting are Elephant seals which can be seen at Simpson Reef on Shell Island at Cape Arago State Park.

Three Arch Rocks at Oceanside also hosts many of them – but you’ll need binoculars to see these.

Don’t forget tidepools. Rocky shores along any coastline are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the whole world. This fall season has been far less storm-prone than most, so tidal conditions have been calmer than usual along the beaches and rocky areas. It’s made for safer viewing situations.

“All kinds of wonderful creatures - gumboot chitons, giant green anemones, and ochre sea stars, for example - can be viewed along the rocky shoreline,” ODFW said.

Some fun facts from ODFW: barnacles can live up to 10-15 years, while limpets (cone-shaped snails) are some of the most important grazers on rocky shores.

See All Oregon Coast Tide Pools 

“Take care to minimize your impact as you explore Oregon’s rocky shores,” ODFW said. “Remember to leave things where they are for others to enjoy and to ensure these communities and important habitats persist.” Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - Where to eat - Map - Virtual Tour









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