Ocean Upwelling

Sunset over the ocean

When you think of “California” you think of beaches and beach lifestyle. Orick sits at the beginning of the Pacific Northwest. We have incredibly beautiful uncrowded beaches but you'd be happier bringing your jacket than your bikini. Our near shore coastal waters are colder in the summer than they are in winter. Yep! In winter our coastal waters are around 55 degrees F (12.77 C) but in summer it drops down to 45 F (7.22 C). All these changes occur due to our local winds. In the winter we have strong southern storm winds. These southern winds stir up the ocean surface and create a system of “downwelling” where the near-shore ocean water on the surface is pulled down at the shore and travels away along the ocean bottom. This surface water has been heated by the sun and as such, is warmer than the waters below. In summer the opposite occurs. Beginning in spring we get our prevailing winds from the northwest. These winds cause the surface water to travel in the other directions. Cold Arctic waters that have traveled along the bottom of the ocean come up along our shoreline through the summer. These waters are chock full of nutrients! This “upwelling” brings life to our shores. The nutrient-rich cold water provides food for our local ocean summer residents including California brown pelicans, grey whales, harbor seals, Stellar's sea lions, all kinds of rock fish and more shorebirds than anyone can name in a short blog!

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