Grant’s Getaways: bioluminescent plankton in Tillamook County

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Grant McOmie was able to observe bioluminescent plankton from Netarts Bay in Tillamook County.

NETARTS, Oregon – The Oregon coast is spectacular any time of year, but at the end of summer when the sun goes down and the conditions are perfect, there is something magical and wonderful about it. marvellous.

Every step in the sand reveals an electric blue glow in the night as we discovered it on the north side of famous Netarts Bay in Tillamook County.

It’s a bloom of bioluminescent plankton, according to retired biologist Jim Young, who said the phenomenon is caused by microscopic organisms.

“It’s called a dinoflagellate and they have a process where they bioluminate when disturbed and emit blue light. They come close to the shore in the summer when there is a lot of daylight. They also need nutrients and in the summer we have the upwelling effect where water from deep oceans rises up along the coast and brings a lot of nutrients higher up the water column. All these little critters can multiply, and we get these flowers.

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For professional photographer Jesse Brackenbury, the event is too impressive to pass up. “You couldn’t ask for better conditions tonight. It’s the Milky Way over there. I can’t wait to see what the camera captures, ”noted the longtime photographer.

We recently met Jesse on top of a cliff over the ocean in Tillamook County as the sun was about to set.

“I’m hoping the bioluminescent plankton brightens up with the cliffs and the Milky Way in the background. That’s why I’m sort of shooting right now.

“Ohhhh, yeah, I got it. It’s awesome! Oh, it hits the bottom of the cliffs here too. Wow, ”he exclaimed.

The ocean lit up a brilliant electric blue color that was clearly visible from our perspective.

Very cool. So, so cool! These rocks totally light up, ”Jesse added.

Back on the flat sand beach of Netarts Bay, Jim Young noted that the event is enough to make everyone feel young at heart. Chances are you can spot the vibrant blue beaches from Warrenton to Brookings right now too.

“Oh, I love it. I feel like a kid again, ”Young added.

Be sure to follow my adventures in Oregon via the new Grant’s Getaways podcast. Each segment is a storytelling session where I tell behind-the-scenes stories of four decades of travel and TV reporting.

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You can also learn about many of my favorite Oregon trips and adventures in Grant’s Getaways book series, including:

“Grants Getaways I”, photography by Steve Terrill

“Grant’s Getaways II”, photography by Steve Terrill

“Grant’s Getaways: 101 Oregon Adventures”, Photograph by Jeff Kastner

“Grant’s Getaways: Guide to Wildlife Watching in Oregon”, Photograph by Jeff Kastner

“Grant’s Getaways: Oregon Adventures with the Kids”, Photograph by Jeff Kastner

The collection features hundreds of outdoor activities across Oregon and promises to be of interest to a child of any age.

My next book, “Grant’s Getaways: Another 101 Oregon Adventures” will be published in the fall of 2022.

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