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How To Tell If The Tide Is Coming In Or Out

During your time at the beach, you will hear people discussing the best time to surf, fish, build a sandcastle, or walk along the beach.

At this time, you will also hear them say about whether the tides are low or high.

Many people will have many questions on how that is related to having a good time in the ocean.

What are tides? How can you tell if they are coming in or out?

Is it important to know about the falling or rising of tides?

This article will answer all these questions and more.

What are Tides?

Tides are affected by the gravitational forces caused by the moon and sun.

They are waves from the ocean and move towards the shore, where you will see them as either low or high sea levels.

A low tide means that it is the lowest part of the wave, while a high tide means the highest part of the tide has hit a particular place.

The height difference between a low tide and height tide is known as the tidal range.

Tides are mostly affected by the moon’s gravity.

The moon is always pulling parts of the earth as it rotates.

The moon might be very small compared to the ocean, but it has enough gravitational pull to make things on the earth move.

It pulls the water and the land.

However, you cannot tell any differences when the land is pulled.

You will note the difference with water because it always wants to bulge where the moon is headed (tidal force).

tide at the beach

What are Tide Tables?

Local areas use tide tables to predict tides every day.

They are used to show the low and high tides of the day.

People who read tide tables want to know the specific time when a high or low tide will hit.

It helps guide people on which activity to do at a certain time.

For instance, walking or having lunch by the beach requires you to look for a time of the day when there is a low tide.

Tides also affect camping on the beach.

It would help if you saw the highest tide level so that you can camp above it.

On the other hand, it is essential to have high tides if you want to take the boat out of shore. 

You can find tide tables in many places, including the weather forecast or the NOAA Tide Predictions. 

Using a Tide Table to know when the Tide is Coming In Or Out?

You need to know how to read a tide table to tell when the tide will fall or rise.

Here are some steps to guide you;

  • Locate the specific date– It is essential to know the particular day you will be heading out to the beach. Checking predictions of the tide on the wrong data lead to inaccurate forecasts.
  • Look at the time– Once you have noted the particular date you want to head, you will then see the series of times placed next to the date. The numerical predictions will help you identify when the tide will come in or out.
  • Interpret the tide values– First, you need to know the number zero on a tide table. It signifies the random water level that a tide falls below, which is known as the datum. If the figures are extremely negative, it shows a low tide, while extremely positive numbers indicate a high tide. 

What is A Chart Datum?

A chart datum is the highest or lowest level a tide can come in or out under normal meteorological conditions.

Tidal movements are measured using chart datum and map out the highest or lowest depths of the beach waters.

In the UK, rising tides are measured on how many meters are above zero.

On the other hand, the American chart datum is calculated from an average high or average low tide or the mean. 

Why Is It Critical To Monitor Tides And Currents?

There are several benefits of monitoring the tides and currents in the ocean.

Some of them include;

  • If the sea is your source of income– People who live near the sea need to know when the tides are rising or falling. Whether you are a recreational or commercial fisherman, the tide and currents knowledge helps enhance the level of catch you make in a day. A fisherman can also tell what the low or high tides will attract in terms of fish species. For example, strong tide currents bring smaller fish which act as bait for big fish. Furthermore, tides also help guide surfers and beachgoers. 
  • If You Want To Sail A Ship– The time and height of tides are extremely critical when navigation ships move through estuaries, intercoastal waterways, and ports. Ships use currents and tides to move on the ocean correctly. Today, it is especially important to have information on tides and currents since the ships are larger than the old ones. The increased number of ships in the ocean and the channel’s depths and widths allow very little room for mistakes. 
  • Construction– It is essential to monitor tide levels for engineering projects that are planned near the coastal zone. These projects include the construction of docks, bridges, habitat restoration, etc. If your project involves moving enormous structures, demolition, or construction, it must be organized way before the coast starts experiencing wide variations in water levels. 
  • Science projects– Scientists also take an interest in the rise and fall of tides. Atmospheric scientists and oceanographers use tidal variations to know how the ocean circulation and world climatic changes relate. Ecologists also focus on how pollutants and nutrients are circulated during tide movement. They also look into Plans, and animals that float on the sea move from estuaries to deeper waters due to tidal currents.

What About Visual Signs That Tell You Whether A Tide Is Coming In Or Out?

If you are not a fan of reading and interpreting the tide tables, there are other ways of knowing whether the tide is falling or rising.

They include…

How Wets Are The Natural Landmarks Located On The Coast

Take a note of the wetness of certain things on the shore to help you know the tide direction.

This visual cue is especially significant in places where boulders and tree roots are many.

The waterline is easily visible and can help you figure the direction of the tide.

You do not have to go to these natural landmarks. Use whatever is near you.

Some places take advantage of mangrove roots near the coastline to tell if the tide is rising or falling. 

The local people of any coastline with mangrove roots say the tide is rising if the roots are dry above the water surface.

In contrast, when the mangrove above the water level is wet, there is a high chance the water is falling.

You can use this technique on any natural landmark other than trees, and mangrove roots, of course.

The Ripple Direction

The ripples on quiet water can help you easily tell whether a tide is coming in or out.

To a skilled eye, the ripples push towards the shore as the tides rise.

With this technique, it is essential to be very keen because it can even tell you the tide direction. 

Whether Detritus Is Present Or Not

Another technique that most people use is the level of detritus available on the coastal line.

Detritus, also known as waste or physical debris such as seaweed, is brought in as the tide rises.

It is very normal to see a lot of detritus along the coastal line during a rising tide. 

The Activities You Can Do At Low Tide

Child-friendly activities are best when there is a low tide.

You can engage in walking along the coast, tide pool searching, wading, or shelling.

After the water washes away into the sea, it leaves behind shells onshore, which are fun to grab.

If the tides are extremely low, they expose tide pools and reefs, which are a great option for free-divers to explore.

Additionally, fishermen can engage in surf fishing since they can cast their nets further. 

During a low tide, you can take your young ones on a walk along the beach since it is easier to walk on the sand.

They can also engage in sandcastle building. 

The Activities You Can Do At High Tides

If you are fishing, boating, or kayaking, a high tide is a great option for you.

The average high-water levels give easy access to the vessel that you are trying to board.

People also make sandcastles when there are high tides because you can already tell where the tide reaches. 

You can carry out fishing on both high and low tides.

However, high tides are the best since you can access various fish species in the comfort of your beach chair. 

If you want to tell whether a tide is coming in or out, use a tide chart.

It will help you know tide levels that will occur on a specific date or time.

On the other hand, you can use visible signs such as wetness of natural landmarks, ripple direction, or the presence of residues.

Although these cues are not precise, they can be very useful.