Tuesday, December 18, 2012

High Tides

Because I live so close to the coast and because I am so interested in shorebirds I have become more knowledgeable about the changes in the tides.  Of course, tide heights and times are different every day and change every month.  However, the most spectacular tides are the king tides that happen around Christmas and New Year.  This is the time when the tides are the highest.  (Possibly I should say when we notice the highest tides, because there are similar high tides in June/July but they are in the middle of the night so most people don't notice them.)  Last Friday and Saturday were the highest tides for December.  The high tides in January will be a few inches higher still.  (I don't know how the tide cycles work in the northern hemisphere.  Are they opposite from what they are here and are your highest tides in June/July?  If some reader knows I will add their comments in here later!  I have heard from a couple of people on the west coast of north America that they are having similar high tides in their part of the world - thank you for commenting!  I must do some more study about these very high tides!  Another comment has just been made that says that the extremes of tides at the same time in the southern and northern hemisphere has to do with the tilt of the earth.  And according to wikipedia the king tides occur when the earth, moon, and sun are aligned. Thanks to everyone who commented and guided my further reading.
Last Friday I went out to Inskip Point to see what the high tide was like.  Inskip Point is a long narrow piece of land that runs almost east-west just across from Fraser Island.  It is part of the National Park and is a favorite spot for camping.  It is also the place where barges take 4 wheel drive vehicles over to Fraser Island.  The last part of the point is a sand spit - usually high and dry and at least 100 meters wide.  This is an image saved from Google Earth. (All pictures enlarge when clicked on.)   

However, when I got out there on Friday there wasn't much sand left out of the water.  The barge was still sitting out at the end of the point but no vehicles were going to be getting on it for some time!

I had arrived a little before high tide and as I waited the waves and water gradually got higher over what was left of the sand.

We had had very high winds for several days before this.  The winds had chopped up a lot of foam on the water and this was mainly to the south of the Point.  Gradually the water covered the Point from both sides.

Some tourists drove down the track in 4 wheel drive vehicles but they stopped at the edge of the trees when they saw that there was water covering the sand.  A couple of the drivers walked out along the sand spit  but then came back and waited for the tide to start going down.

There wasn't much left of the sand island either.  Only the biggest birds were still trying to roost out there.  The Pelicans had taken the highest parts.

Just past where the barge was waiting there was an even more narrow strip of sand and there were hundreds of shorebirds and terns packed in there.  As the tide got higher some of these had to fly off and try to find somewhere else to roost.

I didn't see where these little shorebirds flew in from.  They tried to settle on a small piece of dry sand but even this soon went underwater.

This notice is on the south side of the Point and on dry sand when the tide is out. The notice is about waist or chest high.

Even the campers in the camp sites had to move.  There are lots and lots of sites to camp in but these ones close to the water are usually very popular.  The Rangers would have moved everyone out before the water started to cover the area.

I am looking forward to those high tides in January and I hope that the winds will be calm so that I can kayak out to some of my favorite roost sites and photograph what they look like when they are full of water.

For more photos from around the world visit Our World Tuesday

and for more bird photos visit Wild Bird Wednesday.


  1. What a great area!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  2. I really enjoyed this visit to your coast with you. Love the birds all crowding together as the space decreases.

  3. I love your watery captures and what a great place to kayak!! Hope you have great week! Enjoy the holidays!

  4. We have particularly high tides in December and January in my part of the world. They rise up quite rapidly at times and if not careful some people can get caught on sandy shores that suddenly disappear.

  5. Its good that you know all about the extra high tides at this time of year.

    Great bird captures.. happy kayaking :)

  6. Amazing shots ~ the geography of the world is changing ~

    (A Creative Harbor) ~ aka ArtMuseDog and Carol ^_^

  7. We are having very high tides here in BC. It looks so beautiful there, I especially like the beach scenes with the waves.

  8. Great series wish I could have been there to see it for myself.

  9. I enjoyed this post all the more because we also made an excursion to Wynnum Manly to see the king tide on Friday. It was especially interesting to explore the Wynnum Mangrove Boardwalk. I'll post my piccies very soon too, and I will re-visit this area as apparently there is a hide further along the track which was cut off due to the high tide. I've never seen a hide and it has me intrigued!!

  10. Great series of photos, got a chuckle with the no parking sign in the water.

  11. A fantastic post, I really enjoyed it.

  12. tides is a very powerful fenomenon. We don´t have tides in Sweden. O, maybe a little on the westcoast. So I´m not used to it. Visiting a place like Morocco and walk in the tides of the Atlantic ocean is amazing. But you have to be careful not to be swept away if it is windy also. Love your psot today. :)

  13. Your photos are always a delight. I really like your narrative about your visit. Great post.

  14. Interesting post, Mick!
    Love all the pictures of the tidal action.
    Here in west central Florida (U.S.), the Gulf of Mexico tides are lowest during the winter months. In December and January, many areas have exposed bottom which will easily support boat navigation the rest of the year.

    Basically, it's the moon's fault! The fact that northern and southern hemispheres have different low/high tidal extremes at the same time of the year has to do with the earth "tilting" more one way than another at those times.

    Hope this helps and if your research produces different information, let me know so I'll stop spouting off like I know what I'm talking about!! :)

  15. Great image series di show.
    Wish you a good day / merry Christmas.
    Hanne Bente

  16. Very sensible notice there!

    I often wonder where some flocks of birds appear from - then seem just to materialise from nowhere!

    Cheers and thanks for linking to WBW - Stewart M - Melbourne

  17. From the pictures you seem to have a wide range of tide heights Mick, just like we do here in NW England. As a birder here I have to check and know the daily changes in tide so as to be able to see waders - low tide, birds miles away - high tides birds up close. This happens on a 2 weekly cycle with the highest ones as "Spring" tides, nothing to do with the season, but when the high tides are very high and the low tides are very low. Good to compare notes and see your sunny, warm tides with the beauty of your beaches.

  18. Great post, loved all the photos. I am just happy that the birds are left a spot even though it was a small spot.

  19. Hi Mick!
    Nice pics and interesting to read about the tide. As NF already have written we don't have tide in Sweden. I think it's a bit scary, but very fascinating!

    Yes, here we still have some snow that was messy the other day, but today I think it's frozen again. Fast changes here.
    Happy Christmas to you! /Pia

  20. Great post, very interesting and lovely photos. I would find it hard to see all the 4WDs all over the place, near beach nesting birds.

  21. I live inland so I'm fascinated to learn about the high tides. Happy kayaking and birding!

  22. That sign's pretty funny out there in the water. Extreme high tides are a little scary; I hope you find more about them. When we spent summers on the Oregon Coast, the tide table was something we consulted as regularly as the calendar, almost as regularly as the clock (we used to go crabbing and needed to know when to set and retrieve...). On the Gulf, now that we're in Florida, it doesn't even really seem like an ocean, hardly any tide at all.

  23. Interesting most! When we lived near the East Coast the high tide was checked for fishing and in case any storms were coming. Other than that I didn't know much so I've learned a little today now that I'm almost 500 miles inland. :)
    Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas season!