Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

Oregon Coast Waves Gone Wild: the Fun of Crazed Foam

Published 08/23/2018 at 5:37 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Oregon Coast Waves Gone Wild: the Fun of Crazed Foam

(Oregon Coast) - Sea foam is an especially fun attraction of storm season on the Oregon coast, but it can get wild ‘n woolly even without major winds close to shore. You may find it happening in late September as coastal weather starts to get a little bumpy now and then.

Latest Coastal Lodging News Alerts
In Seaside:
Includes exclusive listings; some specials even in summer
In Cannon Beach:
Includes rentals not listed anywhere else
In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
Check each listing for specials
In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Some Deals even in summer; great packages
In Lincoln City:
Major price drops on some dates and some lodgings
In Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach:
Specials can still be found
In Newport:
Includes exclusive listings not found anywhere
In Waldport
New amenities offered; specials
In Yachats, Florence
Some specials; lodgings not listed anywhere else

With this remarkable and often-overlooked or misunderstood feature come some warnings, however.

Usually it’s fall through spring that sea foam does interesting things, piling up in huge blobs that seem to float effortlessly across the beach. It goes from simple foamy breakers to giant globs on flat sandy spots like those at Seaside, Cannon Beach, Lincoln City or Newport. Rocky shelf areas like Yachats or Depoe Bay can make foam do even wilder, crazier things.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) officials shared some fascinating background information on the fun phenomena.

“Strong waves and wind injecting air into the ocean and the presence of dissolved organic matter can form sea foam,” ODFW said. “The organic matter is mostly made of dead phytoplankton. The protein from the phytoplankton gives the water enough surface tension to form bubbles.”

These suds-like masses gather together, pushed and smooshed into undulating shapes by surf and winds.

ODFW said many newcomers to the Oregon coast and even state residents find the sight a sign of something bad, as if it’s pollution. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it’s part of a process where the ocean is actually purifying itself.

“Viewed under a microscope, sea foam contains the extraordinarily beautiful glass-like skeletons of the phytoplankton,” ODFW said.

When there’s more foam around, it’s often at least partially because of a phytoplantkon bloom – meaning the tiny plant-like objects have literally bloomed in larger numbers, like plants do.

Most spectacular, however, is when phytoplankton blooms and winds come together to make for gargantuan chunks of sea foam that pull wild stunts like flying across Oregon coast highways and roads, looking like miniature snow flurries. Even more impressive: if the exact conditions of winds and foam are right you get the very rare sight of foam actually flying upwards, especially at the Devil’s Churn near Yachats. It looks like snow going the wrong direction. This can occasionally happen up against large rocks and sea stacks, like Arch Cape.

However, whatever you’re doing while watching this, beach safety should always be your first concern, ODFW said.

“Don't become so entranced by what you find that you stop paying attention to the ocean, however,” the agency said. “A large wave could do more than just get you wet if it drags you out to sea or causes logs on the beach to shift and injure you. For your safety, don’t turn your back on the ocean and stay off beached logs.”

More words of warning: Don’t ignore the warnings.

When things get really crazy, winter can storms shove waves as high as 35 feet onshore, sometimes even up to 40 feet. These kinds of surges generally cause damage and shut down beaches, even many wayside parking lots.

However, it doesn’t take waves that high for Oregon officials to close a beach. Usually 20- to 25-foot waves make for such warnings – and make sure you heed these.

ODFW said such big curlers can hurl large logs onto the beach, and sometimes over railings of waysides – such as at D River in Lincoln City.

The flipside to all this wacky action is that the day following a storm can create a bundle of fun finds, perhaps even the coveted and now-rare Japanese floats. Oregon Coast Lodgings for this event - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours

Oregon Coast Lodging

 





 

More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....

 

Oregon Coast event or adventure you can't miss

 



Coastal Spotlight


LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

N. Oregon Coast Holidays: Cannon Beach Museum, Downtown Parties
Cannon Beach events: plenty of interesting yuletide distractions
Central Oregon Coast Holidays Kick Off with Lincoln City Tree Lighting
Family ornament workshop, cookies and hot chocolate, festive choral music, a visit with Santa. Lincoln City events
Wacky Oregon Coast History: Nov. 12 is Happy Exploding Whale Day, New Facts
More tidbits about the incident, the clip and its future. Sciences
Major Meteor Shower Could Hit West Coast, Oregon, Washington
An enormous but short burst of activity of especially bright meteors. Sciences
Lion's Mane Jellyfish: Something Ouchy on Oregon Coast Lately
Seaside Aquarium this week reporting seeing some Lion's Mane Jellyfish on the north coast. South coast, Sciences
Holidays and Book Fair Approach on N. Oregon Coast: Tillamook, Seaside
Mook Book Fair in Tillamook, Gingerbread Tea in Seaside. Tillamook events, Seaside events
Oregon Coast King Tides Project Kickoff Party, Photogs Needed
With the first king tides coming up November 25 - 27. Weather
Animal Planet Star of Crikey! It's the Irwins Films at Oregon Coast Aquarium
Bindi Irwin showed up in Newport for a segment airing Nov. 23. Science, kids

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright BeachConnection.net Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted

Oregon Coast Lodging
Rentals
Specials

Dining

Events Calendar

Oregon Coast Weather

Travel News

Search for Oregon Coast Subjects, Articles

Virtual Tours, Maps
Deep Details