One of my favorite places to go as a child was Agate Beach. Decades ago it was a blink or you'll miss it wayside, though now it is a thriving vacation community. It is still a secluded and lovely stretch of Oregon's all-public shoreline. I remember long walks with my sister and Mom along the beach, wading in the tidal lagoon, and beach combing for hours. Agate Beach was named for the spectacular abundance of agates, colorful pieces of quartz washed and polished by the ocean until they shine and transmit light. A single walk could garner handfuls of agates, to be taken home and used in planters or as make-shift jacks. It was common to find beachcombers hauling buckets of agates up to their cars. Something about the shape of the beach, the nature of the source rock, and the particulars of the ocean currents has always funneled shells and stones to this tiny Oregon beach.
Yesterday we walked the length of the entire beach, and found not one. Now the only thing that washes up on Agate Beach is remnants from the Japanese Tsunami covered with exotic and invasive species, and shards of plastic. People still walk the beach with buckets in hand, but they are largely picking up trash. And the public notices sign in the parking lot discourages swimming or water contact of any kind due to high bacteria count.
This makes me sad. It serves as proof, in my own lifetime, of the damage we have done to the environment, and the consequences of our greed. Agate Beach is gone forever.
Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints.
To Volunteer or Contribute to SOLV, Oregon"s Beach Cleanup Non-Profit:
The Oregon Coast Management Program:
Photograph of Tsunami Debris on Agate Beach Courtesy of: