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Little Explosions: Perseid Meteors and Glowing Phytoplankton on Washington / Oregon Coast

Published 08/18/23 at 4:21 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Forks, Washington) – [Update: INCLUDES A PREVIEW OF SOMETHING UNUSUAL COMING] --The vibe of sea and sky at night is not something that's easily translatable, unless you've actually lived it. Without a serious literary flair, it's impossible to describe. Even then, only photographs of the Oregon coast or Washington coast after dark can fully relay the feeling in certain aspects. (Above: near Manzanita, courtesy Mathew Nichols Photography)

Also, something stunning is coming, and there's a preview at the bottom.

One Washington coast photographer has been doing that, and recently caught an absolutely jaw-dropping image of the Perseid meteor showers hammering the skies at Kalaloch Beach in the Olympic National Park, as eerily-glowing waves loom below.

The levels of ethereal here are downright freakishly cool. Matt Nichols of Mathew Nichols Photography has also snagged numerous eye-poppers of bioluminescence on the Oregon coast, such as this shot near Manzanita (at top). And he's about to release a calendar full of such awe-inspiring moments.

For those hoping to see this dual luminosity action it may not be too late for either the Oregon coast or Washington coast. Warm conditions are more conducive to bioluminescence showing up on beaches, and Oregon and Washington are certainly experiencing that now. The Perseids may have seen their peak this past weekend, but they continue through the end of the month. See Bioluminescent Phytoplankton: What Makes Glowing Sand On Oregon Coast, Washington - including how to look for them

Nichols' full photo (see his social account for timelapse too)

Nichols' post on Facebook shows he's about to explode with delight from the experience. Then again, Who wouldn't? After all, none of this is easy to see with the naked eye – much less shoot it. Nichols spent some seven hours either setting up the shots or shooting. Then, he's rewarded with an epic display of bioluminescent phytoplankton and space debris smacking the atmosphere at hundreds of miles per hour.

Those tiny, glowing phytos are rarely seen with your own eyes in the water – at least on the Oregon coast and majority of the Washington coast. Up north where Nichols was, that's a tad more common, however.

It's a scene from a sci-fi novel, really, or straight out of the new special effects wall used in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

“I probably saw over 100 meteors that night, and the waves constantly glowed blue from the algae,” Nichols told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “It was an amazing experience, one that can only happen when the conditions are perfectly aligned.”

Nichols photo: Ruby Beach

Kalaloch is an esoteric enough place as it is. This is where the famed “tree of life” sits – that unmistakable yet strange mass of a tree draped over a beach entrance, with roots hovering over all who enter. At night, Kalaloch is pitch black, allowing better visibility of the tiny glowing critters below and the legions of space dust above.

“Every footstep glowed blue as I walked down the beach, and sticking my hand in the tidepools was like being in an Avatar movie as my hand was covered with glowing blue plankton,” Nichols told Oregon Coast Beach Connection.

Get ready for more from Nichols on this: he's about to publish a calendar of these scene on both the Washington coast and Oregon coastline. Many feature amazing shots of the Aurora Borealis as well. See more of Nichols' calendar

Nichols' shooting specs:

13 second intervals
2000 ISO
f 1.8


Oregon Coast Beach Connection

Oregon Coast Beach Connection just published something that will come as a real surprise to fans of this coastline and the Washington coast. See Green Nightglow Above Us All the Time, You Just Didn't Know: Washington / Oregon Coast Science There is a thing that is always happening in our skies that you can't necessarily see – but cameras can. Even Nichols caught it here.

This shot here from Oregon Coast Beach Connection shows a rare form of Nightglow. Click to see the full story

Oregon Coast Hotels for this - South Coast Hotels - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours


Below, calendar sample.

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

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

Coastal Spotlight

Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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