What’s going on out there?


PAM CHATER spends a great deal of time cleaning debris off beaches. “I found this CANISTER (pictured, left) that says ‘Hazardous material, Warning, Contact police or military,’” she told the Ear. After calling 911 to report it, both the Cannon Beach fire and police departments showed up. Turns out it’s a military flare, which has been turned over to the Oregon State Police.

“My friends KAREN HOYT, SHELLY CRANE, VALERIE GIFT and I picked up many bags of trash recently,” Pam said. “TRACY SUND helped us take it off the beach. Tracy works for the city of Cannon Beach, and he told me he took five truckloads of debris off the beach in one day.”

Also among their recent discoveries, “I was saddened to find hundreds and hundreds of little dead CASSIN’S AUKLETS (pictured, right). It was as though they came in with tons of ocean debris,” Pam recalled.

SHARNELLE FEE, executive director of the WILDLIFE CENTER OF THE NORTH COAST (http://coastwildlife.org), explained that the auklet die-off is being caused by starvation because several factors have disrupted their food supply. “They’re a species we hardly ever, ever get in,” Sharnelle said. “It’s an unusual major event that’s been happening in October, November and December.”

“Karen and I pick up garbage every day,” Pam added. “A lot of toothbrushes and slippers, obviously stuff from the Japanese tsunami, which is sad. That particular day there was so much trash, and the birds came with it. You have to wonder what’s going on out there.”

— Elleda Wilson

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