Pickle-like pyrosome creatures washing up on Oregon Coast

Tiny creatures are washing up in droves at the beach.

OCEANSIDE, Ore. -- It's a phenomenon that has Oregon Coast visitors baffled.

Millions of unusual pickle looking sea creatures have washed up on shore and are now blanketing some beaches.

"We've had other critters of course but I don’t remember these guys and there's just tons of them," said Phyllis Ham, who lives in Oceanside.

"I don't know what they are but they're creepy," said Aaron Davis, who was visiting the Oregon Coast from Montana.

The creatures that resemble translucent pickles are called Pyrosomes. Each one is actually made up of hundreds of individual organisms.

The concern is, they're not supposed to be here. They are normally found far offshore in the tropics. But this weekend they started washing up onto Oregon beaches by the millions.

Jim Young, who is a retired marine biologist from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and other researchers at Oregon State University believe warmer ocean waters off our coast may have brought the Pyrosomes here.

"They're normally in warmer waters, but our waters here on the coast have warmed up quite a bit," said Young.

The researchers say while the Pyrosomes are not harmful on shore, they could impact life off-shore.

"The one thing that might be of concern around here is that if there's enough of these and they sink to the bottom, it could maybe cause a dead zone," said Young.

Back in May, researchers at OSU discovered swarms of the creatures in the waters off Oregon's coast. They even shot underwater video of them.

But Young says this many, on-shore, is a first. 

He says the Pyrosomes that washed up onto the beaches will likely disintegrate over the next few weeks.

While they are not harmful to touch, they do get a little slimy, slippery and somewhat stinky.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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