It was a cloudy/hazy day and the Dec 22, 2014 king tide mission was nearly aborted, but the clouds broke through and TWC staff John Bauer, photographer Ben Friedle of Outlier Solutions Inc. and pilot Tony Carson sailed down the Van Duzer corridor to document the expanse of the King Tides in the Siletz, Salmon, Neskowin, Nestucca, Sand Lake, Netarts, and Tillamook estuaries. The December King Tides followed on the heels of three days of very heavy rains. Water elevations were especially high with the combination of the King Tides and runoff from the heavy rains. The Siletz and Nestucca looked like a giant café au lait – pudding colored water. The Tillamook was mixed. Sand Lake and Netarts were serenely turquoise, while The Salmon River estuary had pretty good clarity. Many to most of the diked lands were flooded.
In January 2015, TWC coastal steward Paul Engelmeyer, photographer Shannon Spence and pilot Jane Nicolai photographed the January King Tides in Yaquina, Beaver Creek and Alsea estuaries. It was great to see the scope and expanding scale of TWC’s coastal projects. “It’s impressive from the air, impressive to see how the Wetlands Conservancy’s efforts have begun to weave a fabric of conservation projects along the central Oregon Coast from Newport to Waldport. Wetlands inundations during the King Tides are terrific litmus of the widespread effects of rising sea levels” says volunteer photographer Shannon Spence.
Understanding and visualizing the potential changes will allow scientists, landowners and the community to begin to plan for the future. This may mean preparing for the prospective loss of habitat, the impact on commercial fisheries, and regular flooding of roads and properties.