Seven Weirdest Things I’ve Ever Seen on the Oregon Coast (Part I)
Published 04/25/2019 at 5:53 PM PDT
By Andre’ Hagestedt
(Oregon Coast) ā As founder and editor of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, and before that as a freelance writer, Iāve been covering these beaches for over 20 years now. In that time, Iāve encountered a lot of weird stuff (and thatās not counting the far more frequent wacky experiences at the local bars). In fact, itās just that which inspires me to cover it evermore deeply. Thatās the most interesting part of this shoreline. (Above: the green flash at sunset).
Really, there are much more than seven things Iāve encountered here that are wild and weird ā and wondrous. I didnāt even include the insanely cool Green Flash at Sunset experiences Iāve had. Even so, narrowing it down to the top seven craziest experiences yielded too much ā so this is only part one. These finds go way back to well before I was a writer, actually. Part two is coming tomorrow.
Here are three of the seven top weirdest things Iāve seen on the Oregon coast, in chronological order.
Mysterious Red Glow. Perhaps the one defining moment for me and the Oregon coast happened in Neskowin in 1987: it was then and there I realized I was not only really starting to like the beach (I grew up hating the coast) but that it could contain something freaky and unusually engaging. (Above: Neskowin).
Out on the beach at 1 a.m. with my girlfriend at the time, we happened across a bonfire still going. Like a good omen, that was. At one point, I kept noticing an odd glow on the horizon, or at least way out at sea. It was faint, it kept undulating and changing shape, and sometimes it would disappear. As my lady friend talked, I saw all this over her shoulder, keeping quiet about it for maybe as much as ten minutes. There were fishing boats I could see and there was mostly cloud cover overhead (with a full moon almost completely hidden), so it didnāt look like it couldāve come from above. Besides, what could make that deep red color from above anyway?
The harsh truth of it was: it seemed to come FROM BELOW.
Finally I asked her if she saw this too, and we both sat for about five minutes or less while the phenomenon did its weird thing and dissipated.
To this day Iāve never seen anything that resembled it nor found any completely satisfactory explanation, and Iām out on the beaches at night a lot. While chasing a possible answer years later, this did cause me to discover the science of glowing phytoplankton. And once in ā97 I saw a fishing vessel near Heceta Head with red lights glowing on the water, but it still didnāt look like what I saw.
Whatever it was, it sent me down a path of one discovery after another.
Snow Going the Wrong Direction. April of 1993. Iām not even a writer yet, but I am just now getting addicted to the Oregon coast. Itās a stormy, crazy day around Yachats, and Iām at Devilās Churn at Cape Perpetua. The sea is bonkers, the wind is a bitch and the sea foam is doing stuff Iāve never seen before. (Above: that very day).
Itās thick, gooey and it looks like snow banks launching onto the rocks. Then I notice something really bizarre: chunks of the stuff are flying upwards towards the top of Cape Perpetua. It looks like snow going the wrong direction. I could tell this much: the wind was barreling into the tight cove-like area, and there was kind of a vertical half-tube formed by the cliffs of the Churn and Perpetua. So it was clear wind was pushing things upward through that formation.
It wasnāt until many years later that I discovered sea foam was actually the bodies of tiny phytoplankton. See what sea foam is here.
Bioluminescent Phytoplankton Adventures. I heard about āglowing sandā back in the mid 80s from a friend who used to live in Lincoln City, but it wasnāt until a slightly drunken night in Newport in ā93 did I finally see it. When I asked my four friends if they saw it as well, they all chimed in with the same response: āWe thought it was the booze.ā (Photo above courtesy Dr. Edith Widder: a closeup of the dinoflagellate).
Since then, Iāve seen it dozens, maybe 100 times. The most spectacular, however, was one night with my Rockaway Beach pal Abbey. We sauntered up to Wheeler and stuck our hands in the Nehalem Bay, and sure enough ā my hand had a weird, blue glow to it. Then, up in Arch Cape, where it was pitch black, it was way more populated with these little dinoflagellates than Iāve seen before or since. If you kicked the wet sand, a huge chunk of it would be glowing green ā a like a big glow stick. And instead of that brief flicker these tiny wonders normally perform with, it sat and glowed for about ten seconds. Insane.
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