'UFO' washes up on Oregon beach after an 'adventure at sea'
NEWPORT, Ore. - Jason King spotted the UFO near Boiler Bay last month.
“I was beach combing along the wrack line when I spotted what looked like a Frisbee under some driftwood and bull kelp," said King, a staff member at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
"When I went in for a closer look, it appeared to be a floating portable speaker because of the Bluetooth symbol," he said. "After retrieving it and clearing some debris, I realized that it was a scientific instrument of some kind."
But King and the rest of the Aquarium staff puzzled over the UFO - for "Unidentified Floating Object."
"The yellow disk is less than a foot in diameter, with foam encompassing a smaller circular solid device. Although slightly worn from time spent at sea, the letters 'OSKER' are clearly legible on the top," according to a report from the Aquarium. "Fortunately, an email address accompanied by an 'If Ashore Please Contact' label directed King on the next step after his discovery – sending an email enquiry."
While awaiting a reply, staff researched OSKER devices and learned it's a tracking system made by Xeos Technology.
"According to the Xeos Technology website, the device provides accurate real-time tracking over an area of the water surface," the Aquarium reports. "It maps currents, oil spills, and other phenomenon."
The UFO's owner had more to share.
Stephen Page, Oceanographic Monitoring Coordinator for the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, British Columbia, Canada, responded to King’s email.
“The drifter you found is part of our surface circulation studies on the West Coast," Page wrote. "We use these drifters to help us calibrate oceanographic circulation models, understand surface drift and to give insights into where spills, debris or any floating item may end up."
The Institute of Ocean Sciences put this particular drifter in Canadian waters at the mouth of the Juan de Fuca Strait on September 1, 2017.
"When the drifter ran out of battery on September 21, a typical running time for these devices, the scientists had already received 2800 data points," the Aquarium reports. "It was about one month later, on October 29, that King found the device nearly 300 miles south of its last reported location."
And unlike debris that washes ashore, this "drifter" can be re-used.
“These OSKER drifters are a relatively new style of drifter that we have been prototyping since the spring. Given the right conditions, they can travel quite far, as you have already realized!” Page wrote.
The Aquarium sent the device back to the Institute so that it can be refurbished for, as Page put it, “another adventure at sea."
“I immediately felt a sense of joy and accomplishment, as after many years of searching beaches for treasures, I had never found anything like it," King said. "Stephen Page and the Institute even sent me a hat for my efforts in retrieving and returning the device."