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Oregon Beaches See Odd Things Wash Up

(Oregon Coast) - Interesting things have been washing up on Oregon beaches lately. A species of shark that rarely washes up on shore was found, and a creature known as a “purple sail” is starting to make its annual appearance on the Oregon coast.

Seaside Aquarium’s Tiffany Boothe said a sevengill shark wound up on Sunset Beach last Thursday. While the species is not rare, it is rarely seen washing up on Oregon’s coast. “They are offshore, deep water sharks (about 1,000 feet to 1,800 feet)," said Boothe. “They are slightly aggressive, often hunting in packs and feeding on fish, marine mammals, and sometimes even each other. The one we recovered and buried was nine feet long and about 146 lbs. It had been dead a while and it had a hole in its side.”

Boothe said the largest recorded sevengill was 9.8 feet and 236 lbs.

Aquarium manager Keith Chandler referred to them as “simply a cool looking shark.”

“I read they hunt in packs,” Chandler said. “They don’t wash up here much because they’re so far out and live so deep.”

In the realm of beach wonders, velella velella are starting to show up on the beach, said Boothe. These small, purplish, slimy things wash up in great numbers in spring or early summer. Nicknamed “purple sails,” this form of jellyfish brings out the seagulls to feed on them when they wash up, and they start to smell rather pungently after a while.

Once they dry, they lose their purple color and become translucent.

“Walking along the beach, you may have noticed slimy, iridescent blue discs,” Boothe said. “Purple Sails have clear a ‘sail’ that helps them catch the wind. However, when the wind blows out of the Northwest, these little guys get stranded on the beach. Unlike the more common jellies, the purple sails do not sting. They capture their food while drifting on the surface of the ocean with small, sticky tentacles. They feed on fish eggs and small planktonic copepods.”

David Johnson, owner of Cannon Beach Fultano’s Pizza in Cannon Beach, spoke on the cell phone to Beach Connection while standing near the beach. “I can see them from here,” Johnson said. “There’s a line of them at the tideline.”

In Arch Cape, just south of Cannon Beach, Arch Cape House co-owner Bob Shaw said the purple sails have piled up to about six inches on that beach Wednesday. "I can see them floating in big groups just offshore," Shaw said. "Then they'll sometimes get pushed up onto the beach."

Boothe said they can be found in most oceans of the world, preferring warmer waters. They can reach sizes of four inches in length and three inches in width.

In the meantime, a recent spate of “ocean burps” on the north coast yielded some unusual finds for the Seaside Aquarium. Found among these upwellings of objects churned up during stormy periods was a set of squid eggs, which Boothe and Chandler moved into a tank to see if they would hatch. Boothe said the eggs are starting to form, and it looks like they may have a small group of infant squid on their hands soon.

Chandler said these look like a jalapeno stuffed with tapioca. The shells these come from contain hundreds of little squid eggs. “We’ve done this before, and I guess they’ll hatch in a month or so,” Chandler said. “We’ve never been able to raise them, however. They’re just too hard to feed or to find stuff to feed them. They need a lot of tiny plankton. So once they hatch, they’ll go away pretty fast.”


Oregon Travel Secrets: Weird Science, Spring Rarities on the Coast The 'secret season' and other spectacular oddities abound

Taste-Testing Tourism on the North Oregon Coast Numerous lodging, dining and beach secrets lurk here

'Ocean Burps' Leave Oddities on Seaside Beaches A semi-regular natural occurrance is leaving strange things on the beach

Oregon Tourism Alert: Spring Rarities in Newport Much is new in Newport, especially in the natural world






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Cannon Beach Ecola Creek Lodge

Ecola Creek Lodge, Cannon Beach. In a quiet neighborhood, this longtime coastal landmark boasts a koi/lily pond, spacious lawns, gardens, stained glass windows and wireless internet – all in a slightly Victorian vibe. With some rooms pet friendly, you are a couple minutes walk from town and close to the beach. Guests also get access to a full recreational and exercise facility. Wild bunnies provide an adorable addition to your stay, making for an especially serene coastal experience. 208 5th St. www.cannonbeachlodge.com. 800-873-2749.