The seashore at Yachats in Oregon is quite unlike any shore I’ve seen before. Rounded pillows of rock form extensive platforms on the beach. Landwards, the rocks are mostly uncolonised by marine invertebrates and algae but the lower shore is covered by a profusion of seashore creatures and some hardy species of seaweed. Low-growing dense mats of golden green algae, that coat the rocks in isolated patches, glow vibrantly in the late afternoon sun.
The North West Pacific Coast of America at Yachats is pounded relentlessly by high waves that crash against the rocks giving rise to 7 metre high plumes of sea spray even on a summer’s day – higher in winter or windy weather. Wave watching here is a great tourist attraction because it can be so spectacular. It is a great draw to visitors throughout the year – especially when stormy weather washes agates ashore. Local hotels and restaurants accommodate people who love to watch the Pacific Ocean waves – with strategically placed windows and balconies and hot tubs for winter watchers.
Smooth rock platforms extend north and south as far as the eye can see. The size and scale of the scenery is difficult to convey but some images below show buildings built on the rocks just above high tide level to put the views into perspective. Despite the obvious hardness of the rock, the power of the waves has worked at small joints and cracks to produce an erosion surface with numerous shallow pools and deep gullies which are important habitats for flora and fauna.
There did not seem to be much in the way of flotsam and jetsam when I visited. No strand line of seaweed or seashells. No rubbish. No small stuff washed ashore. Driftwood high and dry on the rocks consisted of whole trees stripped bare, worn smooth, and bleached by sun and salt.
A sea mist or fog is a frequent occurrence at Yachats. On a clear day, a bank of fog always seems to hover and threaten from the horizon. When the mist rolls inshore, it can make an August day seem like mid November. On a sunny day, the haze filters the sunlight reaching the rocky beach and creates wonderful atmospheric effects in which the seaweeds glow a brighter hue contrasting vividly with the dull rocks.
Holiday homes and hotels perch on the coastline – normally just out of reach of the waves. They must be very robustly-built to withstand the onslaught of the sea and weather. I dread to think what the house insurance must be like – especially as this is also an area liable to damage from tsunamis. There are signs on viewpoint benches and roadsides.
The sandy soils above the rocky shore support an abundance of flowering plants at Yachats. This flat tract of land is bordered by an area of pines and swampy pools where black bears roam, marking territory by claw marks on tree bark, and scat with plum stones. Cougars descend to the shore at night from the mountains that loom over Yachats – so trail users need to be wary.
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