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Posts Tagged ‘Oregon Coast safety tips’

A Halloween Tale: Beware the Excirolana kincaidi!

Posted by Jody on October 31, 2012

 The Creepy Crawlies of Whaleshead Beach, Oregon

Whaleshead Beach. Oregon

You may have noticed that when our family travels, we frequently photograph beach signs. We actually read them, too!  Other beach goers will often pass us by as we stand there at the sandy entrance, perusing the notice packed signboards. Our guess is that a rather large percentage of people don’t pay much attention to these particular seaside information centers.

This way to Whaleshead Beach!

When Greg and I headed down the path to Whaleshead Beach, we couldn’t wait to see the view unfold. There it was: a magnificent rock jutting from the sun-drenched sea, looking just like a colossal breaching whale. It was a gorgeous sight!

Beautiful Whaleshead Beach, Oregon

Then we saw it: An 8 ½ x 11” piece of paper encased in plastic, attached to the official wooden signboard, that sent chills up our spines.  Excirolana kincaidi ?!

The Creepy Crawlies of Whaleshead Beach, Oregon: Sand beach isopod (Excirolana Kincaidi)

“These isopods alternately bury themselves in the sand and actively forage for dead animal matter.  They seem to be especially active in the shallow swash of retreating waves on sandy beaches.  Large numbers may quickly congregate around an animal carcass that washes in on a sandy beach while it is still in the water, and quickly strip the carcass of flesh.  This is the most common Excirolana species along the Washington coast.  Predators include sanderlings.”

Greg found the original of this posting at a Wallawalla.edu. There you’ll see much more information and additional technical specifics about these little flesh eaters of the Pacific Northwest sands, including pictures far more frightening than this one. The section that is highlighted in yellow on the sign is prominent in the university’s write up:

“Note:  Very few crustaceans will actually bite you but this nasty little creature is definitely one of them.  Barefoot waders in an area with Excirolana will find that the animals quickly swim toward and swarm over bare feet, biting them so hard that blood will be flowing within moments.  Since the animals are so small the bites are tiny but painful like a pin prick, and the animals are often present in swarms of thousands.  Rapidly shuffling the feet reduces but does not eliminate the number of bites.”

Although they seem a useful creature in keeping the beaches clean and sanitary (nature provides for all things), there seems to also be an undesirable side effect to having them around.  This note certainly killed any idea we had of heading to the water’s edge, even on the most beautiful, toasty October day!

Wouldn’t these little beasts be perfect for an Alfred Hitchcock movie? Move over, birds!

*A tag-team post by Greg and Jody*

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Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Safety Tips, Pacific Coast Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Oregon’s Coastal Quirks

Posted by Jody on September 19, 2011

Seaside, Oregon (Photo by M.O. Stevens, from Wikimedia Commons)

We have always been thrilled with our trips to the Oregon Coast.  The scenery along the Oregon Coast, from the mouth of the Columbia River to McVay Rock (the last traffic light before the Oregon/California border), is among the most dramatic on earth!  Almost every twist or  turn of  Highway 101 (the coastal road) presents you with a stunning display of craggy coastline or a beautiful sandy stretch of beach.  Along the way you are treated to  unfolding views of  historic lighthouses and picturesque  panoramas of quaint fishing villages. From the crashing surf of the Pacific Ocean to the lush forested mountains of the Coast Range it’s difficult to choose where to pull over and pause to take in the spectacular vistas.

The Oregon Coast presents some very different and specific safety issues compared to many other shorelines.  Even though the number one safety tip for all beach goers, from Cocoa Beach, Florida to Seaside, Oregon, is “Learn to swim”, visiting the Pacific Coast of Oregon comes with a variety of beach dangers that every visitor needs to be aware of in order to assure a safe trip to this particular stretch of seashore.

Something we don’t concern ourselves with when we are on the beaches of Sanibel Island, Florida are “sneaker waves”.  But, on the Oregon Coast, they are a very real phenomenon. “They’re called sneaker waves because they appear without warning, often surging high up on the beach with deadly force, and are impossible to predict. How to play it safe: Never turn your back on the ocean.”  This advise comes from the “Visit the Oregon Coast website which has a very thorough and informative Beach Safety” page.

The Spectacular Oregon Coast (Photo by JJ Harrison, from Wikimedia Commons)

The Spectacular Oregon Coast (Photo by JJ Harrison, from Wikimedia Commons)

Along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico we use the tide tables so we can head out to beach comb in hopes of finding the best beach treasures before they are all scooped up! On the Oregon Coast we really need to know the tides for safety and security reasons. “Incoming tides isolate rocks from headlands and the shore. Avoid the temptation of strolling out to an interesting rock without knowing when the tide rolls back in. Free tide tables are readily available at state park offices, information centers and many shops and motels. How to play it safe: Stay off rocks and small, enclosed beaches.”

Check out the Oregon Coast Visitor Association’s excellent Beach Safety page for more great information. It’s packed with things you should know before you go. Stay safe and have fun!

Enjoy the ride along the Oregon Coast!  -J-

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Posted in Beach Safety Tips, Monday Miscellaneous, Pacific Coast Beaches | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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