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Run of Recent Oregon Coast Strandings: Whale, Sea Snails, Fishing Boat

Published 08/20/21 at 6:32 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Run of Recent Oregon Coast Strandings: Whale, Sea Snails, Fishing Boat

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(Oregon Coast) – A run of curiosities washing up on the Oregon coast lately has social media flooded with interesting and unusual photos, as well as science experts scouring the beaches for answers or at least more evidence. It did not end with that mass of live sand dollars the made regional news this past week, where thousands were churned up from their sand beds by some kind of current and tossed onto a Seaside beach [Thousands of Live Sand Dollars Washing Up on N. Oregon Coast Beach]. (Stranded whale photo courtesy Jim Rice)

There was a rush of still-living sea snails stranding at Fogarty Beach, a fishing boat near Garibaldi, unconfirmed reports of bunches of baby octopuses on the central Oregon coast and a large dead whale washing up at Yachats.

In Yachats, reports began circulating Monday of a dead whale carcass floating off the rocky ledges. At one point, it moved its way south a bit and stranded on a pocket beach between basalt slabs. There, it was finally accessible at lower tides, bringing in Jim Rice with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

“This juvenile gray whale carcass was first reported to us on Monday 8/16, floating in a small cove adjacent to 6th St in Yachats,” Rice told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “By Tuesday morning it had landed on a small beach there and I examined it and collected some tissue samples from it.”

It was a male, about 10 meters long (approximately 33 feet), and Rice said it was likely dead for a couple of days before washing up here.

“It was rather bloated and had numerous tooth marks on multiple body parts and severe hemorrhaging on top of the head suggesting that it had been recently attacked by killer whales,” Rice said.

There was the distinct possibility it had been held underwater for awhile by the Orcas, resulting in it drowning, Rice said. reports it is still “banging” around the surf at the southern edges of town, and now some of the skin is starting to come off because of that constant impact.

Rice said it will soon start to stink terribly, but there is no way to move it out to sea or bury it. Local residents may have to deal with the smell for awhile.

On Saturday, August 14, the Garibaldi-based fishing boat Maddie ‘n Mell ran aground near the north jetty of Tillamook Bay. It is unclear why.

According to CoastWatch, it was stranded about 100 feet from the north jetty's rocks. At one point, numerous people and some large equipment were trying to move it over the weekend. There was reportedly no smell of gasoline or sign of leakage.

At one point the tide did take the vessel away and it wound up around Rockaway Beach. Stranding on the beach there, crews were able to remove the boat safely from the area.

There were no injuries.

CoastWatch observers also caught sight of an unusual stranding of sea snails at Fogarty Beach this week.

The volunteer group has been on alert for such oddities after the large spate of live sand dollars at Seaside, and the volunteer who patrols that central Oregon coast beach just north of Depoe Bay said she discovered “hundreds upon hundreds” of snails stranded above the high tide line.

They were not everywhere, just a few spots, according to the CoastWatch report, passed on to Oregon Coast Beach Connection by volunteer coordinator Jesse Jones.

“Just like they'd also gotten pushed up and could not get back to the water,” the volunteer said. “They were still alive too, but wouldn't have been in a bit, since the next tide level might not have reached them.”

The volunteer said she did not get pictures as she was too busy attempting to throw the live ones back into the surf.

Some reports have surfaced of a run of baby octopuses washing up in large numbers along some central coast beaches, but these could not be 100 percent confirmed.

This is not too unusual, as Haystack Rock Awareness Program in Cannon Beach recently photographed a baby octopus in a tidepool at the base of the monolith. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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Photo courtesy Jim Rice, Marine Mammal Stranding Network

Fogarty Creek

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

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