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After Two Years, N. Oregon Coast's Beach Discovery Program Back in Seaside

Published 06/29/22 at 5:15 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

After Two Years, N. Oregon Coast's Beach Discovery Program Back in Seaside

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(Seaside, Oregon) – Like many things in our world, COVID interrupted something very fun and valuable on the north Oregon coast. For two years, the Seaside Aquarium's Beach Discovery Program was put on a shelf, the scintillating little sessions out on the sands where kids of all ages – and grownups with a sense of curiosity – got to learn about what happens on your beaches, what creatures live there, and even what sand grains actually look like. (All photos courtesy Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium)

Now, Beach Discovery Program is back.

Once more, as with every summer, these enlightening events happen on Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. This is a free, educational program that sets up right in front of the north Oregon coast attraction, delighting thousands over the two and a half decades it's been running.

Among the hot topics are learning about the marine life found along Seaside's open sandy beach, beach and dune ecology, and the many ways Seaside Beach has changed over time.

“We also hand out beach cleaning supplies for those people who want to help remove trash before it ends up in the marine environment,” said Tiffany Boothe of the Seaside Aquarium.

It's all very weather dependent, however. If it is raining or if the wind picks up, people are encouraged to call the Seaside Aquarium at 503-738-6211 to see if the program is running.

The Seaside Beach Discovery Program has been going for 26 years, according to Boothe. Each summer, visitors get to learn about – and talk about – the natural wonders of this coastline. You'll find plenty of hands-on displays, old photos and hearty, even heady discussions. Most of all, it's very one-on-one; it's not like you're taking a class.

Staff members use several interactive displays.

“We have a wave table to springboard talks about various kinds of waves, sand transport, seasonal changes, change over time, and tsunamis,” Boothe said. “Our microscopes show diverse creatures including plant and animal plankton, leading us to discuss all of Earth’s dependence on these huge varieties of tiny creatures.”

One interesting display is a handful of giant magnets and a sand drop tube, which then leads to learning about the difference in granules along the Oregon coast.

“We also have sands from around the world, changing people’s notion of what sand actually is and how ocean creatures choose their beach depending on the topography available,” Boothe said.

Historical photos show how Seaside has changed over time, as well as displaying how humans and geology have changed around the Oregon coast.

“One popular display in the form of a signpost points out that people are not our only tourists, and that many of these swimming or flying animals make enormous journeys round trip every year,” Boothe said. “We use instruments such as tide tables, wind gauges, thermometers, and a salinity gauge to compare daily, and sometimes hourly, changes to a seemingly static beach. These lead to displays about beach safety, verbal talks about gravity, the moon and tides, sand movement, upwelling, rip currents, and the food chain.”

Much of the point of all this is engaging people and to help them see the interconnectivity of sand, the water, the air, the plants and animals, the earth, and the moon; and humans’ relationships to that process.

Every morning before the program officially opens, staff members record the wind speed, air and ocean temperature, ocean salinity, and tide data. Then they collect samples of plankton and tiny critters along the ocean’s edge and note anything unusual for the day.

“Wide-ranging discussions occur daily with a steady flow of information, questions, and ponderings that keep our displays fresh and evolving,” Boothe said. “Some visitors stop and are gone in under five minutes. Many stay half an hour to an hour. We hear nearly every day from people who have visited in prior years or plan their yearly vacation around our summer schedule.”

On the Prom in Seaside. See Seaside Aquarium or 503-738-6211

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