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Unusual Find on Oregon Coast a True, Rare Treasure of Random, Happenstance Art

Published 08/14/23 at 6:11 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Unusual Find on Oregon Coast a True, Rare Treasure of Happenstance, Random Art

(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – A simple birthday trip to the beach turned out to be a rare chance encounter with nature, what probably truly is a “treasure” of sorts. (Photo Andreea Baker Instagram / Facebook)

There's a lot of things going on all at once in the ocean off the Oregon coast, so an unlikely combo of elements like this was bound to happen here or there, as astronomical as the odds are. Yet for one beachgoer it meant an extraordinary moment.

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Andreea Baker was wandering Indian Beach at Cannon Beach recently and happened upon a striking visage that probably was as rare as her ebullient wording made it out to be.

“This is the most amazing discovery in my lifetime! It feels like I’ve discovered a rare treasure,” Baker said on a Facebook group called Oregon Coast Experience. She likely wasn't far off.

A couple of rather large mussel shells sat clumped together on the beach, practically stuffed to the rim with happenstance art. Numerous juvenile sea stars (a good sign, considering the plague that decimated them years ago) were on top of a veritable rainbow of colors in the mussel shells themselves. Additionally, according to Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium, there's some sea lettuce. Then there are those tiny round, whitish things, which sometimes look almost pearl-like. Boothe said those were baby gooseneck barnacles.

Photo Andreea Baker Instagram / Facebook

Baker's photos probably did them justice. It's a thoroughly unique find on the Oregon coast.

What about the creatures therein?

Photo Andreea Baker Instagram / Facebook

These are pelagic gooseneck barnacles, Boothe told Oregon Coast Beach Connection – a few times over the years, actually. Their sole purpose is to attach themselves to other stuff. They actually cannot live without hooking onto something. If the barnacle in its infant egg state doesn't attach, it dies.

Pelagic means they float along the ocean – and at the will of the ocean. They can't propel themselves.

In the case of this set of teensy critters, their timing and luck were impeccable. See more on gooseneck barnacles of Oregon / Washington coast.

Photo Andreea Baker Instagram / Facebook

The sea lettuce is the small green bits you see on the outer layers of the shell. The technical name of the stuff is Ulva fenestrata, and Boothe said it is a green macroalgae that's distributed by the ocean from the Bearing Sea to Chile. That Green Slime or Sea Goo on Oregon / Washington Coast: What Is It?

The mussel shells are rather large, even for the Oregon coast. These are commonly-found creatures on the Oregon coastline and are delicious.

“California surf mussels (Mytilus californianus) are brown or black and grow to about 7 inches long,” said Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The sea stars give plenty of hope to those on the Oregon coast who've been keeping an eye on the sea star wasting disease that hit a decade ago and destroyed enormous populations of them.

These are ochre sea stars here (Pisaster ochraceus), and they are not simply one color: they can show up as yellow, orange, brown, reddish or even purple.

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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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