Newport has always been noted for its abundance of agate and exceptionally fine, colorful jaspers, because the supply of stone is exposed by our strong storm tides. However 2008 provided some of the best collecting years of probably the last 8 - 10 years, and the best thing about beachcombing, it requires no special
tools and it's free!
tips to avoid accidents and injury: activities
here on the coast are often governed by tidal influences.
Your SAFETY is priority #1.
be cautious when near the surf. Those beautiful waves can be dangerous
as sudden wave surges or "sneaker waves", with these strong outward currents,
wash up on the shore with enough impact to knock an adult down and drag
them out to sea. Do not turn your back on the ocean and never
play on the driftwood logs. These logs weighing upwards of several tons, become buoyant and can
be moved around in as little as just one inch of water which can float
and roll over a person causing injury or death to an unaware person.
Watch the tides, every 24 hours and 50 minutes the tide rises and falls
twice. The incoming tides are the most dangerous to unwary explorers.
Therefore beachcombing requires a knowledge of tidal ebb and flow.
Variations to predicted
tides can be caused by changing weather patterns, currents, wind and
wave size. Therefore, it is prudent to use caution around the ocean.
The Pacific Ocean, relentlentlessy renews the agate supply
every year during the winter and early spring when the storms are the hardiest and the tides
uncover great beds of gravel at this time of year. This brings the lighter
weight stones characteristic of gem material to the top. The "Discovery
Season" from October through April is the very best time to hunt for the
fine agates one can find in the area. The mild winters of Oregon's central coast
allows for year beachcombing in comfort.
The agate hunter should look for loose gravel on top of
the sand. Much of the agate and jasper found on Oregon Beaches will
have been worn down until it is rounded into smooth beach pebbles or cobbles.
If you look closely at a dry piece of this rock you may see that it is
covered with little crescent-shaped indications as though someone had pressed
their fingernail into it. Most agates are translucent and when held
to the sun or other strong light the formations inside can be seen. It
is best to hunt on an out-going tide for it is then that the gravel has
been freshly agitated and the stones are most plentiful. Walk into the sun so that you can better see the agates sparkle. It is always easier to see the agate or opaque but colorful jasper when the stones are wet, so start hunting from where the water has recently receded. Keep in mind that because agate is very hard, agate will remain wet and shinier longer than the porous rock, basalt or sandstone pebbles have dried.
Rare finds are agates with water and a moveable bubble
of air inside called an enhydro and agates that appear to have fine hair-like
needles inside is called sagenite. Jasper is an opaque quartz containing
oxide of iron, clay and many other impurities and is found in various colors,
such as red, butterscotch, brown, green or any combination there of. Bloodstone
is a dark-green jasper with small, blood-red blotches. These treasures
of agate, jasper and petrified wood are especially beautiful when polished.
A rock tumbler will polish
them into beautiful gems, that can be made into lovely jewelry.
Also, be on the look out for petrified wood, fossil
shells of clams
and snails plus fossilized whale and dolphin bone. They may be seen
embedded in a cliff face, (however do not attempt to remove them from the
headlands, as wind and water will erode away the soil). Look among
the cobbles washed against the base of the cliffs by the tides. Seldom
do you ever see the complete fossil visible, therefore look for interesting
contours and shapes. A
permit is required for any digging beyond a modest
3" x 6" deep hole. Any fragile vertebrate fossils are to be left
untouched and reported to the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport
at South Beach. Some fossils may not be easy to recognize and they
may be taken to the Hatfield Marine Science Center for identification.
A specific list of all the collecting beaches in Oregon
would be too lengthy to include here, for field guides and maps or further information of agate and fossil collecting on Oregon's
Central coast Visit Wesley's
Trading Post which is conviently located in Newport at 136 SE 1st St just one block south east of Happy & Healthy behind Walgreens (at Hwy 101 and Hwy 20) and across the street from the Restore quanset hut Newport's home of habitat for humanity. Wesleys Trading Post is your "Beachcombers headquarters"
For the informative new full color Pocket Guide to
AGATES of The Oregon Coast plus field guides, maps, the beachcombers treasure & gem scoops or equipment and supplies to polish your agates and more...
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