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They're back... Westerly winds have brought velellas back to the beach, luckily not in huge numbers so far. While walking along the beach, you may have noticed slimy, iridescent blue discs. These discs are a type of animal called Velella velella, commonly known as Purple Sails or By-The-Wind Sailors. Purple Sails have a clear “sail” that catches the wind and pushes them across the ocean’s surface. When the wind blows from the West, these little guys get stranded on the beach. Once washed ashore, they either become food for a variety of beach-dwelling creature or dray into the translucent “sails” you see on the beach. Purple Sails do not sting their prey; they capture their food with small sticky tentacles. Velellas feed on fish eggs and small planktonic copepods. Found in most oceans, Purple Sails are frequent visitors to the Oregon Coast. They can reach a size of 4 inches in length and 3 inches in width.
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Yesterday evening we responded to a striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) which was washing ashore just north of Ocean Park. The female dolphin was nearly full grown at 6.5 feet (males can reach lengths around 8.5 feet). Though sad, it give us a unique opportunity to learn more about this animal and it's activities along the Oregon coast. Striped dolphins prefer warmer waters and are typically found in the offshore waters off of California and Baja. Though they are uncommon to the area, it is not the first time a striped dolphin has washed ashore. Their sharp teeth are used for snatching up small fish such as herring or cod, squid also make up a majority of their diet. Striped dolphins occur either individually or in small schools.
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Migratory shore birds are starting to show up on local beaches! Yesterday we spotted the first whimbrels of the year feasting on mole crabs.
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Despite the weather we had a good turn out today for our monthly beach clean up. With help from the wonderful volunteers we were able to remove over 160 pound of trash off of Seaside beach!
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Treasure the Beach is tomorrow morning from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Pick up your SOLVE bags and gloves in front of the Seashore Inn. Thank you for helping us keep Seaside Beach clean and safe for everyone.
Seaside Aquarium
We have been getting a lot of questions about strange eggs washing ashore. We have heard reports of findings up and down the coast but with a large concentration on Gearhart beach. These strange gelatinous tubes are squid eggs. Squid form large schools and lay their eggs together on the bottom of the seafloor. Each female may lay up to 12 egg capsules and each egg capsule has between 180 and 300 eggs developing inside. As the eggs develop you can actually see the baby squid moving while still in the egg. When they hatch they are about the size of a grain of rice.
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We are having a wonderful day at the Clean Water Festival. Over 300 3rd graders learning about respecting all of the ocean's critters and their environment!
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Being part of the Southern Washington/ Northern Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network, we are used to getting strange calls at all hours. Yesterday evening at 6:00 p.m. we received a call about a strange animal buried in the sand on the Long Beach Peninsula. We were very surprised to find out that it was a Pacific Snake Eel (Ophichthus triserialis) an animal which has never been seen on the Washington Coast. Candace Woodbury found the fish buried in the sand but far from the water’s edge. Concerned and curious about what type of fish is was, she called the Seaside Aquarium. https://youtu.be/d6R3hVl9ebA (video credit Candace Woodbury). When we received the pictures of the animal on the beach, we knew it was something special, but we also knew that though buried in the sand it had been out of the water for some time. These fish are usually found at depths between 25 feet and 500 feet. When we arrived, we uncovered the fish which was remarkably still alive and got it into sea water. Too lethargic to be returned to the sea, we decided to bring it back to the Aquarium. The eel is currently in an isolated in a tank which we are slowly warming to make the eel more comfortable. There is some damage on its pectoral fins that we are hoping will heal. Pacific Snake Eels range from Peru to northern California. In fact, according to ODFW they have only been found twice on the Oregon coast, both had already died before being spotted.
Seaside Aquarium
Have you ever seen a Pacific Snake Eel (Ophichthus triserialis)? We hadn’t, that is until last night and neither had the Washington Coast. In fact, as far as we can tell this is the first time that a Pacific Snake Eel has been found in Washington.
Seaside Aquarium
Sunday we aided in the rescue of a beaver who lost it's way. Found out on the beach near the mouth of the Necanicum River, this exhausted beaver was taken to the Wildlife Center of the North Coast for some TLC. Good luck little buddy!
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What a wonderful week. We had our Treasure the Beach, beach clean up. With help, we were able to remove 180 pounds of trash from the beach, including large bag of rope. Then we got to celebrate our manager's 40th anniversary with the Seaside Aquarium. The Seaside Aquarium wouldn't be what it is today without him! A big thank you to our board of directors for putting on such a lovely celebration.
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It is a beautiful day to be out on the beach!
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We got another dusting of snow this morning!
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Most plankton are tiny and barely visible with the naked eye, but jellyfish are considered plankton and can grow to be many feet long! There are two main types of plankton; zooplankton and phytoplankton. Zooplankton are animals and phytoplankton are plants. Phytoplankton are at the very bottom of the marine food web using sunlight to create energy to synthesize carbon dioxide and water into food (photosynthesis). Most zooplankton rely on phytoplankton as their main source of food. And in turn many marine animals eat zooplankton including whales! Life as we know it in the ocean wouldn't be possible without these amazing little plants.
Seaside Aquarium
Students from Astoria High School dissected deceased juvenile sharks on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 as part of Lee Cain’s Fisheries Course. Shark specimens were retrieved off local Clatsop County beaches by trained Seaside Aquarium staff in accordance with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Students were able to work in pairs and gain hands-on experience with assistance from teacher Lee Cain and staff from the Aquarium. Students were able to dissect Salmon Sharks (lamna ditropis) and Blue Sharks (prionace glauca). Blue sharks can reach up to 10 feet whereas salmon sharks can reach up to 21 feet, both are commonly found off the Oregon Coast. Juveniles that fail to thrive can wash ashore during their migratory patterns that span throughout the majority of the Northern Pacific. All of the specimens found for the high school were found stranded on the beach. When a live shark on the beach gets reported to the Seaside Aquarium, staff will respond and try to get the shark back into the water. If the stranded shark cannot make it past the surf and continues to wash back in Aquarium staff will bring it back to the Aquarium and do what they can to try to save it. Most attempts are futile, there is usually a reason a shark strands itself, but we always try to give them their best chance of survival. Though sad, it gives students an unique opportunity to learn and get a better appreciation for these magnificent creatures.
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We got a call this afternoon from a nice gentleman named Ben. While walking on the beach near the Jetty he found some fish eggs, which had just recently washed ashore. Curious to what they were and if they could be saved, he called us. They turned out to be lingcod eggs. We have placed them into a tank with fresh ocean water going into it and now we will have to wait and see if they are still viable. Thanks for the call Ben!
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It's snowing on the beach!
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Current weather conditions at the Aquarium!
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What a beautiful surprise to wake up to this morning.The snow made it all the way to the beach today! Be sure to bundle up if you go outside today and be safe on the roads. And enjoy the snow while it lasts!
Seaside Aquarium
What a great turnout we had today for the monthly 'Treasure the Beach' cleanup event in Seaside! Lots of people volunteered their time to help pick up trash in the dunes and along the shore. We have a very clean beach again and we would like to thank everyone for the past and future support!
Seaside Aquarium
Treasure the Beach is tomorrow morning from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Pick up your SOLVE bags and gloves in front of the Seashore Inn. Thank you for helping us keep Seaside Beach clean and safe for everyone.
Seaside Aquarium
Unfortunately, despite everyone's best efforts the sea turtle did not make it. We would like to take the time to thank everyone for their well wishes and a special thanks to both the Seattle Aquarium and the Oregon Coast Aquarium for all of their hard work and efforts in rehabbing sea turtles found on Oregon and Washington beaches. Another thank you to Don Best for his quick reporting of the stranded turtle.
Seaside Aquarium
At 9:00 am this morning we received a call of a sea turtle found at Rockaway Beach. The turtle is a male olive ridley sea turtle that was barely moving due to the cold. Staff at the Seaside Aquarium were able to get it off the beach to begin warming it up. The turtle is now on it's way to the Seattle Aquarium to begin the process of rehabilitation. Hopefully all will go well and the turtle will be released back into warmer waters.
Seaside Aquarium
We are on the look out for a fur seal entangled in rope. This morning we responded to this fur seal with rope around it's neck on the south end of Seaside beach. We were hoping to capture the little guy and remove the rope and let him free. Unfortunately, he was quite spry and swam away as soon as we approached. If you seem him please give us a call at 503-738-6211, we would really like to help the little guy out.
Seaside Aquarium
According to NOAA "Guadalupe fur seals are members of the “eared seal” family, Otariidae. Their breeding grounds are almost entirely on Guadalupe Island, off the Pacific coast of Mexico, with recent re-colonization off the San Benito Archipelago. A small number of Guadalupe fur seals have also been reported on the northern Channel Islands off California. Commercial sealers heavily hunted Guadalupe fur seals in the 1700s to the 1800s until they were thought to be extinct in the early 1900s. Dr. Hubbs and Dr. Bartholomew from the University of California rediscovered them breeding in a cave on Guadalupe Island in 1954. The Guadalupe fur seal population has continued to increase from the small remnant group on Guadalupe Island due to protection by the Mexican Government. Guadalupe fur seals are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act." To learn more about Guadalupe fur seals visit: www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/guadalupe-fur-seal
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Seaside Aquarium, 200 North Prom, Seaside, Oregon 97138 Tel: (503) 738-6211.