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The Fascinating World of the Tide

Updated: Jan 4

Let's explore the fascinating world of the tide, delving into the science behind what causes it, as well as the cultural and ecological significance it holds. From ancient songs about the tide to its crucial role in supporting diverse ecosystems, the tide has captured the human imagination for centuries.



The ocean tides are a remarkable display of nature's power and beauty, with their ability to shape coastlines and support diverse marine ecosystems. They have been revered for centuries for their magical and mystical qualities, inspiring cultures around the world to worship the ocean as a deity. And as a vital part of the Earth's system, the tides deserve respect for the critical role they play in maintaining the balance of the planet and supporting coastal communities.

I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay, Watching the tide roll away…. Ooo, I'm just sittin' on the dock of the bay Wastin' time - "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding:


The Tide is our Muse

The Tide has amused, amazed, amassed wealth, and scared us since humans walked the earth. The tide is the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun on the Earth's oceans. The gravitational force creates bulges in the ocean, one on the side closest to the moon and another on the side furthest from it. As the Earth rotates, these bulges move, creating the tidal cycle of high and low tide.


High tide occurs when the ocean is at its highest point and low tide occurs when it is at its lowest. The difference between high and low tide is called the tidal range. This range can vary greatly depending on several factors such as the shape of the coastline and the position of the moon and sun in relation to the Earth. Spring tides, which occur during full and new moon phases, have a greater tidal range than neap tides, which occur during the quarter phases.



The history of tides can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, who observed and recorded the patterns of the tides. They believed that tides were caused by the movements of the gods. It wasn't until the 17th century that scientists, such as Sir Isaac Newton, began to understand the true cause of tides as a result of gravitational forces.

Today, tides are studied and measured by organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States. They are measured using a variety of instruments, including tide gauges, which are used to measure the height of the tide at a specific location, and satellite-based instruments, which can measure sea level changes on a global scale. All of this turns into published tide charts that are present in almost any daily weather report. For folks like us we just look them up on our phones, so we know when to pull our chairs and blanket back before we get soaked.


“Got the blue sky breeze and it don't seem fair

Only worry in the world is the tide gonna reach my chair… Zac Brown Band


Don’t mess with a Hurricane High Tide

Tides can be powerful forces of nature, and when combined with other weather patterns, such as storms and hurricanes, they can cause significant damage. One of the United States costliest Storms was Hurricane Sandy which made landfall in New Jersey on October 29, 2012. It affected a large portion of the East Coast, including New York City and several other states.


Hurricane Sandy caused an estimated $75 billion in damages and resulted in approximately 233 deaths. The storm surge from Hurricane Sandy, combined with the full moon and the high tide, caused extensive coastal flooding. The high tide worsened the effects of the storm surge, which overwhelmed the coastal defenses and caused widespread damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure.


The Seaside Heights Casino Pier and boardwalk were devastated, literally dropping into the ocean.


Romancing the Tide

There are many romantic stories and legends associated with the tide, in a way to explain it to less scientific folk.


One popular legend is that the tide is a result of a mermaids' tears. According to the story, a mermaid fell in love with a human but could not be with him, so she wept tears that filled the ocean and caused the tides to rise and fall.



Another romantic story is that the tides are a symbol of the love between two people. It's said that just as the tides ebb and flow, so too does the love between two people have its ups and downs. But just as the tides always return to shore, true love always finds a way back.


In some cultures, it's believed that the tides are connected to the lunar cycles and are a symbol of the powerful, ever-changing forces of nature. In these stories, the tides are often depicted as a metaphor for the cycles of life and love, reminding us of the constant ebb and flow of emotions and experiences.


These romantic tales about the tides often evoke a sense of mystery and magic, reminding us of the beauty and power of nature and the power of love. Whether they are based on scientific fact or pure fiction, these stories help us to appreciate the majesty and allure of the tides, and the many ways in which they can touch our hearts and imaginations.


Let’s Hang ten!

The Tides preference of surfers varies, and it depends on their individual preferences, skill level, and the specific surf spot they are visiting. Both high and low tides can provide unique surfing experiences, and it ultimately comes down to personal preference.

  • Some Surfers prefer low tide as it provides better wave conditions. During low tide, the shallow reef or sandbar that is underwater during high tide is exposed, creating a better wave break for surfing. At low tide, the waves tend to be more consistent and longer, allowing surfers to catch more waves and perform longer rides.

  • Others enjoy surfing during high tides and storms, as the waves tend to be more powerful and can provide a different type of surfing experience. High tide can also be a good option for beginner surfers, as the waves tend to be smaller and less intimidating.


It's important to note that tides can also impact surf conditions in other ways, such as affecting the strength of the currents and the water depth. As such, surfers often consult tide charts and local surf reports to determine the best conditions and strategy for surfing that day.


The Tide and Ecosystems

Tides can have a significant impact on the world we live in. The impact of tides is far-reaching and can be felt in many different areas. Tides play a critical role in shaping and supporting our coastal communities and ecosystems, and it is important to understand and monitor their effects.

  • Coastal communities: Tides can cause both positive and negative impacts on coastal communities. On one hand, the predictable movement of the tide can support industries such as fishing, shipping, and tourism. On the other hand, high tides and storm surges can lead to tidal flooding, erosion, and damage to coastal infrastructure.

  • Marine life: Tides play a crucial role in the ocean's ecosystem, helping to distribute nutrients and support marine life. Tides can create habitats for various species of plants and animals, and help to transport food, oxygen, and other essential elements throughout the ocean.

  • The shoreline: Tides can impact the shape and stability of the shoreline. Over time, the constant movement of the tides can cause erosion, which can lead to the loss of land, and even the displacement of coastal communities. On the other hand, tides can also help to deposit sediment and build up beaches, creating new habitats for plants and animals.

  • Climate and weather: Tides can also impact climate and weather patterns. Tides can influence the ocean's currents and water temperature, which can affect the surrounding atmosphere and weather patterns. In addition, tides can also contribute to sea level rise, which can have significant impacts on coastal communities and ecosystems.

Pop Mentions and Metaphoric flow of the Tide

Many songs have been written about the tide or include lyrics about the tide. The ocean and its movements have long been a source of inspiration for artists, and the tide has been a popular subject for songwriters and musicians for many years.

  • "The Tide Is High" by Blondie: This song is an upbeat dance track that was inspired by the reggae classic "The Tide Is High (Get the Feeling)" by The Paragons. The song includes lyrics about the tide, with the chorus saying "The tide is high but I'm holding on / I'm gonna be your number one / I'm not the kind of girl who gives up just like that / Oh, no."

  • "Come Sail Away" by Styx: This song is a classic rock ballad that includes lyrics about the tide, with the chorus saying "Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me / The sun is fading, but the night is calling to see / That's where we'll be, sailing on the seven seas."

  • "Ocean Eyes" by Billie Eilish: This song includes lyrics about the tide, with the chorus saying "Baby, I'm holding on / For dear life, won't look down, won't open my eyes / Keep my glass full until morning light / 'Cause I'm just holding on for tonight."

  • "The Rising Tide" by The Avett Brothers: This song includes lyrics about the tide, with the chorus saying "Oh, the rising tide will rise / And it's more than I can bear / And I won't be satisfied / Until I see you there."

  • "King Tide and the Sunny Day Flood" by Pearl Jam: is a song that uses the metaphor of tides to describe a moment of transformation or change. "King Tide and the Sunny Day Flood, wash away what's in our way" The use of the phrase "King Tide" emphasizes the power and magnitude of this transformation, while the "Sunny Day Flood" suggests that it may happen unexpectedly and with a sudden impact.


High Tide at Night Lifeguards Delight, High Tide in Day Lifeguards Obey.

Lifeguards take the tide into consideration when performing their duties. They are trained to assess and respond to the conditions at the beach. The tide can greatly affect the conditions at the beach, and lifeguards need to be aware of how the tide is affecting the water and the beachgoers. Here are a few things that lifeguards do to account for the tide:

  • Monitor water conditions: Lifeguards continuously monitor water conditions to assess the risk to beachgoers. When the tide is high, the water can be more dangerous, with stronger currents and waves. Lifeguards need to be extra vigilant during these conditions to ensure that beachgoers are safe.

  • Change the flags: Lifeguards use flags to indicate the safety conditions at the beach. When the tide is high, lifeguards may raise the red flags to indicate that swimming is prohibited. They may also use other flags to indicate areas of the beach that are safe or unsafe.

  • Adjust patrol areas: When the tide is high, lifeguards may need to adjust the areas they patrol. They may need to move closer to shore to provide better coverage and be more accessible to beachgoers. They may also need to move further out to sea to monitor conditions in areas that are normally safe but become dangerous during high tide.

  • Provide warnings: Lifeguards use their knowledge of the tides to provide warnings to beachgoers. They may warn beachgoers about potential hazards, such as strong currents or rough surf, and provide advice on how to stay safe. They may also ask beachgoers to move away from certain areas of the beach that are particularly dangerous during high tide.

In summary, They use their knowledge of the tides to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for beachgoers and to ensure that everyone has a great day at the beach.


Respect the Tide

It's important to educate children about the dangers of the tide so that they can stay safe while enjoying the beach and ocean. By following these guidelines, children can have a fun and safe experience at the beach.

  • The tide can be dangerous: The tide can be very strong and the currents can be unpredictable, so it's important to be careful when playing in the water. Children should always swim near a lifeguard and never swim alone.

  • Respect the power of the waves: The waves can be powerful and dangerous, especially for inexperienced swimmers. Children should never try to swim against the tide or rough water, and should always pay attention to the warning signs and flags posted at the beach.

  • Know the tide schedule: Tides follow a schedule and can change quickly, so it's important to know when the tide is coming in or going out. Children should be especially cautious during high tide, when the water can be deeper and the waves can be stronger.

  • Be mindful of the ocean floor: The ocean floor can be uneven and can have hidden hazards like rocks, shells, and other debris. Children should always wear water shoes and should be careful when walking in the water or playing in the surf.

The tide is a truly remarkable natural phenomenon that continues to inspire and captivate us in countless ways. From the ancient songs of our ancestors to the cutting-edge science of today, we have been fascinated by the tide for millennia. As we look to the future, it is clear that the tide will remain a vital and integral part of our world, shaping our ecosystems, our cultures, and our very way of life for generations to come.


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