Walking the Beach During Minus Tide

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 Walking the Beach During Minus Tide

Face Rock at Minus Tide


If you are near a beach when there is a ’negative’ or ‘minus’ tide, you won’t want to miss it.  If it’s a beach you visit often, you will probably notice the difference immediately.  If it is a beach that is new to you, what you might see will be a delight.

I had a friend who is a photographer who suggested I go to our local beach during a minus tide.  I didn’t time it well though and it didn’t seem that big a deal.  So I looked up negative tides to see what it was I was looking for.

You can see the difference in the photo above and below.  Above, the waves are breaking all the way out to Face Rock.  It was a lovely long stretch of sand and beach that made you want to keep exploring.

Face Rock, Normal Tide

Pulled by the Moon

Most places have high tides every 12+ hours and low tide every 12+ hours.  That gives us a high or low change every six hours.  The plus on the 12 is what causes the changing daily times of the high and low tides.  The actual tidal change occurs about 12.5 hours each shift, so every day it’s that much later.

It had been a long time since I’d studied tides and the relation to the sun and the moon.  In case you’ve forgotten as I had, the ocean’s water nearest to the moon is pulled in by the moon, bringing the high tides.

A minus or negative tide occurs just a couple of times a month when the sun and the moon are aligned.  The pull of both then causes extremes on highs and lows. That is when the moon is full or new.  It’s fascinating to me, as always, to see how the earth, moon, and sun work together.

Quite often the minus tides happen at night, so we aren’t able to enjoy them.  And quite often a minus tide isn’t so negative that we get to see as much.

The one I happened on was totally an accident, but ever since I watch for them.  I took a short trip north to Bandon by the Sea to visit a favorite beach there.  The morning after I arrived I walked down to the beach about 7 in the morning.

It was incredible.  So many of the areas that were normally covered in water were walkable.  Not dry, but the firm sand that makes walking nice and easy.  I walked among them, all along the lengthy stretch of  beach.  On those big rocks,  the line was clear where the water usually covered the barnacles and star fish.

Starfish, Anemones, Barnacles

There were starfish everywhere, a few right on the ground on small clumps of rock, most of the others clutching the side of the huge rocks in long rows or circles.  The sea anemones could be seen as well.  Perhaps the sweetest was being able to walk so close to Face Rock.  It normally looks far out and deep in the sea.  If the water were warmer, you could walk up and touch it I’m sure.  Alas, the water on the Oregon coast is NOT warm, even in summer.

It gave me a feeling of being able to walk forever, with the water so far out.  An added bonus, also common along the Oregon coast, was the lack of people.  There weren’t more than a half dozen the two hours I spent there.

Now that I understand how wonderful and beautiful a minus tide makes the shore, I would like everyone to get to see and enjoy one too.  Try to find the time when the tide will be minus 1 or 1.2 for the greatest impact.  Everywhere along any coast you will find tide charts in the paper, online, or published in tiny pocket-sized books.  If you are planning a trip to the coast, see if you can fit one in that is in the daylight hours.

It’s wonderful, exciting and fun to see how much life exists just out of our sight beneath the water most of the time.

Between Pacific Tides: Fifth Edition








Seashore Life of the Northern Pacific Coast: An Illustrated Guide to Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia










Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Alzheimers HQ and Simple Living Ideas

Author: Merry

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