Sonoma Magazine nature almanac: low tides

Another shorty but a goody in Sonoma magazine: a little piece I wrote on low tides can be found on p.148 of the September issue. Text is also pasted below, but follow the link (or better yet, pick up a copy) to get the full experience including a cool photo of some kids peering into a tide pool.  

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For a few afternoons in late October, the coast is calling. Low tides happen twice a day— technically every 24 hours and 50 minutes, which is how long it takes the Earth to rotate one full turn relative to the moon. But extremely low tides, the kind that reveal reefs and sea caves and the expanse beyond the tide pools, happen roughly every two weeks when the sun, moon, and Earth align at new and full moons, also called “spring tides.”

Here’s the most interesting part: just as their corresponding extra-high tides typically happen in the middle of the day or night, when the gravitational tug of the sun is overhead or opposite, these extra-low tides usually bottom out around dawn or dusk. But this fall, there’s an extra-low tide October 23 through 26 that is timed fortuitously for the end of the day, before the sun has set. Depending on the day and your exact location, the extra-low tide will peak around 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

So after work or school on those days, consider a trip to the shore to make some oceanside discoveries of your own. Tide pools at Shell Beach near Goat Rock, accessible via Route 116; Pinnacle Gulch near Bodega Bay, accessible via Highway 1; and Marshall Gulch, located right between the two, may look like you’ve never seen them before. But be like a preschooler and look only with your eyes—the fragile tidal creatures need to stay right where they lie.

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