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Aug-23-2006 02:21printcomments

Porpoises Deluge Seaside Cove Area

Experts say Seaside should see more porpoises in the coming days.

porpoises at Seaside, Oregon
Photos courtesy: Tiffany Boothe/Seaside Aquarium

(SEASIDE) - An abundance of small baitfish in the waters off the north Oregon coast has resulted in a huge deluge of gulls and pelicans in Seaside and Cannon Beach, as well as another unusual occurrence in the world of nature.

Tuesday, staff at the Seaside Aquarium is reporting that something like 100 harbor porpoises have gathered in the "cove area" of Seaside - at the southern end of town - to feed on the surge of wee fishies.

The aquarium's Tiffany Boothe said the facility got a call from a local man about the porpoises, and she came out to the cove area to photograph the creatures zipping through the water.

Tiffany Boothe

"Typically these porpoise are in groups of about eight, but there were at least one hundred in the cove," Boothe said. "If you look at some of the photographs you will see small harbor porpoises next to larger ones. I believe that the smaller ones are this year's babies. "Their calves are born in the months of June through September. Most likely they are gathered here to feed on the abundant amount of smaller fish that have been in the area, like anchovies, shad and herring."

Boothe said there are always porpoises spotted in the area in small numbers year round in the cove area, always showing up in families or pods of about eight or so. But to see them in such large numbers is highly unusual.

"Everywhere you looked there were porpoises," she said.

Boothe said tons of pelicans and gulls have been spotted in the area in recent days, obviously feeding on all the fish. She guessed a cold upwelling in the ocean brought up more nutrients and other things the baitfish feed on, making their numbers swell in such a large scale manner.

These upwellings of cold water bring up nutrients that cause large blooms of phytoplankton as well, which in turn can bring more of the bioluminescent forms of phytoplankton onto Oregon beaches.

Boothe didn't know if this event would be a predictor of such a phytoplankton bloom, however.

Boothe had no idea how long the feeding frenzy would last, but said chances are good visitors to Seaside could see more porpoises or hordes of birds in the coming days.

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