Mile 157 Report

May 21, 2009
by bzenderson

Oregon Dunes NRA, west of Perkins Lake
Thursday 12:00 AM
60° F
Strong from the NW
Tide Level:
3.0 ft
Humans / Pets:
Cars/Trucks parking:
Activity Comments:
Notable Wildlife:
Dead Birds:
Fish & Invertebrates:
The remains of a fish perhaps 24 inches long. I'm a little mystified; don't know much about this kind of thing, but it seemed to have a cartilaginous spine, but it was no rattail or skate and I don't think it was a shark.
Animal casings (e.g. crab, shrimp molt)·Shells·Small rocks
Strong wind has blown sand over anything that was there.
New Development:
Natural Changes:
High sand volume (due to mild winter/no big storms at moments of high tide?) No sign of fishing boat.
A lovely sunny day, but strong winds had blown sand over most everything in recent tide lines; didn't find any dead birds, for instance. I did stop to pick up a small, deep orange agate; when I reached in my pocket to drop it there, I felt something else--another agate, this one larger and cream-colored. I must have dropped it there the last time I wore these pants to the beach. Reminded of the movie Groundhog Day--so many wonderful days at Mile 157, all blending together, even repeating themselves. I watched an osprey pluck something from the water's edge--I'm wondering if it was a sanderling, as there had been a big flock there moments before, and this thing looked round and fat and small, not slender like a fish. Probably saw some 200 sanderlings, in several groups, and a fair number of gulls, and one small group of ducks of some kind, winging north over the waves. At one point I saw several very nonchalant gulls and a single turkey vulture just standing on the beach near one another, "acting natural," which naturally raised my suspicions. I walked toward them and found what they were hoping I'd ignore: the tattered remains of a good-sized fish they'd been working on. The spine seemed to be cartiledge, not bone, and it had a thin forked black tail and what looked like slightly spiny black dorsal fins. No idea what it was--something common, or something rare?
  • I think I figured out what this is: the remains of a lancetfish. Apparently they have been found stranded in large numbers on Oregon beaches recently. It was pretty well ravaged by the time I came upon it.
    I think I figured out what this is: the remains of a lancetfish. Apparently they have been found stranded in large numbers on Oregon beaches recently. It was pretty well ravaged by the time I came upon it.
    Mile 157
    May 21, 2009
Other Mile 157 Reports (31)


July 30, 2022 - GasiorowskiM
Mile 157 is a beautiful, little-visited stretch of coastline.  It is on the Oregon Dunes Loop Trail, which provides access at the northern and southern ends of Mile 157.  (Access at the southern end...


January 1, 2014 - bzenderson
Beautiful New Years Day at the beach, while it was cold and foggy in the valley. Saw few birds--a few gulls and some flocks of sanderlings. Oregon Dunes Day Use Area (my usual access) was gated...
  • juvenile surf perch


March 5, 2013 - bzenderson
A rainy day; we had the beach to ourselves. Storm seemed to have brought in a lot of mostly plastic debris; much may have been tsunami in origin, but couldn't confirm. Lots of styrofoam in all types...
  • I guess I hadn't noticed this before, or it's new: I was a little confused to see all these oyster shells here on the bulldozed dune just west of Oregon Dunes Day Use Area, but looked online and saw that USFS scatters them for snowy plover habitat.


November 25, 2012 - bzenderson
Gorgeous day at the beach (crappy and cloudy and cold in Eugene). We arrived at about mid-tide and, at first glance, it didn't look like there was much in the driftline. But we wound up finding a lot...
  • I later wrote a short "Sightings" piece about salps for this website.
  • Looks like the cover on a hold, or maybe an appliance of some kind; plastic plus very rusted metal.
  • And here's what it looked like underneath.
June 20, 2012 - bzenderson
There is a lot of buzz about whether the stuff on the beaches these days is from the tsunami. We found a lot of rigid styrofoam (presumably for insulation); normally see very little of that. Many...
  • Forgot to mention this bit of debris; bamboo, I'm guessing off a Japanese dock or fishing boat at sea.
  • It's right there, dead-center!
  • But my "Beachcombers Guide to Seashore Life in the Pacific Northwest" indicates they may be sea gooseberries (Pleurobrachia bachei): about 5/8 inch diameter, "Found near shore, often in large numbers ... Occasionally they wash up on the beach."
  • No nail holes.
  • Off a fishing boat or a tsunami-destroyed kitchen counter?
April 15, 2012 - bzenderson
Fair amount of ocean-borne debris, but unlike my last walk here about a month earlier, when the debris was d0ominated by Japanese plastic bottles (tsunami debris?), it was very cosmopolitan: Russian...
  • Found several in the driftline. I don't recognize it. Is it from a local tree or has it drifted here from, say, Japan? The size of a walnut, but not a walnut.
January 28, 2012 - bzenderson
Stunning winter day; we were totally overdressed, kept shedding clothes to the brink of immodesty. Saw a few flocks of sanderlings, no other birds of note. Driftline was pretty slim pickings, though...


July 14, 2011 - bzenderson
The special today was CRAB: Crab legs, whole crab, crab molt, you name it. I was able to identify a lot of crab molt, but there seemed to be actual dead crabs among them. Lots of shells. Lots (...
  • Scallops of this dried scum defined the driftline in places.
  • In places the driftline was full of these very small(5 mm?)shrimplike critters, white. I don't know enough to know if they were juvenile shrimp or krill or what. (Broken sand dollar for scale)


November 13, 2010 - bzenderson
Drizzly day on Mile 157; my friend Patricia came along for the first time. Unusual number of dead birds (only once before have I found that many on this mile), but given that it's November and that...
  • Photo shows recent erosion of foredune and the abundance of kelp on the beach in the driftline.
  • One of several large rocks we found with kelp holdfasts still attached (but stem ripped off). Evidence of pretty snarly storm. I was surprised at how firm these holdfasts are to the touch--more like wood than seaweed.
September 8, 2010 - bzenderson
Stunningly beautiful day on Mile 157; it started out foggy but cleared up. Little wind. As expected this time of year, we saw a fair number of dead common murres. The (presumably organic) scum on...
  • But Marine Mammal Stranding Network coordinator Jim Rice looked at the photo and thinks it's a shark.
  • This volunteer stuff is exhausting. (This is me trespassing on Mile 156.)
May 8, 2010 - bzenderson
Lovely spring visit--rhodies in full bloom along with beach pea, strawberries and our friend Mr. Scotch Broom. Big surprise was to see the Sanak, the buried fishing boat I wrote about in my book "...
  • Or the sand is scoured again. The Sanak ran aground in September 1983 (as detailed in my book Strand); occasionally it reappears. I haven't seen it since 2004.
  • White-green umbellifer (member of the carrot family, according to field guide) blooming in the dunes alongside the trail.
March 23, 2010 - bzenderson
A beautiful day for breaking rules. I'm calling it my winter visit, since I failed to quite get there before the spring equinox. Found what USFS person said was a sanderling, but I'm calling a plover...


December 1, 2009 - bzenderson
A gorgeous day, the Pacific very pacific. Perfect for opening day of crab season; at one point I could see 8 fishing boats from my mile. Beach quite clean; some debris (bits of bleached nylon rope, a...
  • Not sure you can see them in this tight crop, but bear prints approach the carcass.
July 9, 2009 - bzenderson
A beautiful sunny day for hiking. Not much bird activity anywhere (except the two bald eagles at the oxbow); saw very few birds on Tahkenitch Creek, and not many even on the ocean. Not a lot of...
March 12, 2009 - bzenderson
Gorgeous day. Very little going on. Saw sanderlings on next mile, but all I saw on Mile 157 was one soaring bald eagle and a few gulls. Not much in the drift line; no evidence of any big recent blows...
January 11, 2009 - bzenderson
We went on the day with the highest tide of the year (10.4). Got to the beach early, fortunately; high tide was at 11:45, and we were already running out of beach by 9:45. Weather was very mild, so...
  • Two of the four large red lightbulbs we found--which were among more than a dozen lightbulbs of various sizes and shapes on the beach today.
  • How does this not break? Yet the chances of me getting a lightbulb like this home intact from the hardware store are about 50-50, I think.


October 1, 2008 - bzenderson
Beautiful day at the beach. Minimal ocean-borne debris; mostly lots of kelp, crab molt, jellyfish pieces. Just two dead murres, who had died not long ago. Sand volume high (no boat visible), and...
June 21, 2008 - bzenderson
I'm claiming this as my spring quarter walk, although technically it was just past the solstice! Some some low-tide surprises. Otherwise fairly uneventful. There was a marine mammal (seal? sea lion...
  • One of a half-dozen sea stars found at low tide (technically on Mile 158)
March 8, 2008 - bzenderson
Absolutely beautiful day, shared with my friend and CoastWatch partner Jack Long; wind picked up in early afternoon and got quite chilly, but sunny and lovely and, as usual, not another soul. We went...
  • Any ideas? All black, perhaps some brown in the feather shafts.


December 10, 2007 - bzenderson
Surprisingly little debris on the beach, despite big storms a few days prior. Lots of beach grass in the driftline, but mostly at north end; seems to be more from the earth moving on Mile 158 than...
September 23, 2007 - bzenderson
Beautiful early fall day at the beach with my friend Jim Weber; no one else on the beach, and interesting wrack, including at least nine dead birds, lots of dead crabs and crab parts, and other flora...
July 7, 2007 - bzenderson
Pretty uneventful trip. Very windy. Not many critters. Not much garbage on the beach even; a few plastic bottles and the like.
  • I am going to try to upload a photo of what must be a jaw of some kind of fish; there is one sharp tooth remaining in what is sort of a cartilaginous jaw. Any ideas for ID?
May 26, 2007 - bzenderson
In the wrack line, many examples of a fish (decomposed) that we couldn't identify; long, slender, no discernable head, strange. I will try to post a photo. Note the backbone, not symmetrical; on one...
  • We found hundreds of these per mile in the wrack line. Trying to determine what they were. Don't recall seeing them before.
March 18, 2007 - bzenderson
After several sunny days (in valley), a stormy evening prior to our walk, and beach had LOTS of stuff. Many bottles of Japanese origin. Oyster pipes. Two skate egg cases. The many dead birds I...
March 6, 2007 - VKnox2
I saw many post-hibernation fecal plugs from bears inland. Fresh bear tracks were in the sand and driftline. With only two bird carcasses on this mile, and no fish or crabs, I can't imagine that the...
  • Bear looking for Surf & Turf!


December 22, 2006 - VKnox2
Monstrous piles of Bull Kelp. One lone strand of Feather Boa... a first. Hundreds of Sanderlings.
November 11, 2006 - bzenderson
Saw two seals in waves, wondering if Salmon are running up Tahkenitch Creek. Seen one large gull like bird on beach but flew off before we could ID it. Also seen Sanderlings, migrating geese, a Heron...
August 5, 2006 - bzenderson
Very high sand volume, no sharp drop-off at foredune.
June 14, 2006 - VKnox2
Thousands of Mole crab carcasses in the high tide drift line. Some places as many as 20 per square foot also found small amount of Kelp, Rockweed, Bull. Still researching Mole crabs mortality. They...
April 20, 2006 - bzenderson
High sand volume, boat buried. Quite a lot of standing water in dunes. One Kelp strand 48-50 feet long. Lots of broken shells below drift line in sand.
March 16, 2006 - VKnox2
Seen an Osprey and many razor clams on shore. Part of the dune is caving in and some beach grass has washed away