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Lots of Whales, Gooey Waves, Glowing Beaches, Glass Floats: Oregon Coast Spring Break 2019

Published 03/19/2019 at 8:13 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Lots of Whales, Gooey Waves, Glowing Beaches, Glass Floats: Oregon Coast Spring Break 2019

(Oregon Coast) – This spring break is chock full of action along the Oregon coast, with some gnarly monster waves starting things off, the SOLVE Oregon Beach Cleanup on Saturday, Whale Watch Week, and some other trippy things to look for.

It’s a week full of surprises awaiting the spring breaker.

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Oregon Coast Whales Report: Stellar weather means mucho whale sightings, and there’s been plenty of that lately. Whale sightings have been high along the coastline, according to experts – and the online reports of sightings have been abuzz. The beginning of the spring break won’t be good for whales, however. Large waves roll in on Friday and Saturday, sometimes as high as nearly 20 feet. This hides them from view.

Wave height and inclement weather backs off starting Sunday, which should mean good whale watching over the weekdays of spring break.

Something to keep an eye out for is the presence of Orcas. They’d been spotted a few times a little over a week ago, and the general consensus among scientists is that they were headed for the mouth of the Columbia River. They have not been spotted there yet, it seems. However, gray whale sightings around Astoria have been astounding lately.

Glowing Sand. Last week there were lots of reports lately of extremely foamy waves on the coast, which is often a sign of enormous blooms of phytoplankton. If there’s lots of phytoplankton, there’s a good chance you’ll get the kind that glows too, creating a thing referred to as “glowing sand.”

Locals in Rockaway Beach refer to it as “star stompin’.”

What you’ll see are tiny, bluish-green sparks in the wet sand when you’re walking on it. You’ll need an extremely dark beach with no light interference from lights or from the moon, and rub your feet backwards in the wet sand near the tideline. Much of the time it’s incredibly faint. It shows up maybe about a quarter of the time.

All this comes from a form of phytoplankton called dinoflagellates – part of the family of microscopic plants that form the bottom of the food chain for marine life. These dinoflagellates are bioluminescent, meaning they give off a glow when disturbed or bumped, just like fireflies. It’s sometimes referred to as “phosphorescence” but that is not correct. That’s a purely chemical thing from inanimate objects: bioluminescence works inside living creatures and is biochemical. When a lot of brown waves or sea foam shows up, this is a signal they could well be around.




Weird Brown Waves of Seaside. With lots of rain coming, this could well be spotted over spring break. It tends to alarm people, but the globby, brown and even sometimes sludgy-looking waves are just an excess of diatoms, another form of phytoplankton.

It’s actually a good thing – a sign of a very healthy ocean. It’s freaky-looking, but it’s cool when you know what it is.

300 Extra Glass Floats in Lincoln City. If you love a treasure hunt, Lincoln City has quite the challenge. For the spring break weeks – from March 23 through April 7 – they will be dropping 300 extra glass floats.

These are hidden away in the early morning, usually closer to the vegetation line. See oregoncoast.org for more.

For Lodging: Make your reservations now. Many hotels and rental agencies are already booked up. Oregon Coast Beach Connection will publish an availability report for the crossover weekend between the two spring breaks at the end of the month, which is the busiest weekend. Oregon Coast Lodgings for this event - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours






Below: microscope view of a glowing dinoflagellate.


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