Coast Tip: Alternative Stars

I am bitter. Several nights in a row, attempts were made to see the Perseid Meteor Shower, all to no avail. But don’t fret, head to the beach instead, for you have another shot at celestial glory. Well, not truly celestial at all, it is something of this Earth, but it is just as magical to see at night. Just head on down to the coast and bring a snorkel if you are really feeling adventurous. 

Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by living organisms due to chemical reactions that occur within them. On the Oregon Coast, photosynthetic plankton called dinoflagellates are often the cause, and one can experience their bioluminescence at night by triggering a physical disturbance in seawater, such as viewing crashing waves, skipping rocks in bays, or shuffling feet through wet sand. 

Aim for a night that is particularly dark. A date in the month during a new moon is ideal, as well as a beach far away from city lights. When you reach your chosen destination, let your eyes adjust to the darkness, rather than using flashlights. Keep your eyes on the water, and interact with it often. 

Once you are certain you’ve made a sighting, it is highly suggested that you strap on some goggles and go for a dunk. Yes, it’s stupid cold out there, but as you swim, the organisms around you will light up, and it feels like you are moving through outer space, with the stars all around you.

For a more muted, yet still otherworldly experience, sand stomping and shuffling are perfectly acceptable. Try these maneuvers on parts of the beach where the tide has recently receded. In recent experiences, the sand on the edges of shallow pools around rocks seems to be the sweetest of spots. If you are so able and/or inclined, moonwalking will allow you to glimpse the blue-green bursts, get mega cool points, and go along with the space theme we got going here. 

By Ari Blatt