When the King Tide Falls

January 13, 2018 Posted by: Nicole Ornelas
‘King Tide’ is a colloquial term used to describe an especially high tidal event. These events are caused due to the alignment of gravitational pull between sun and moon against our blue planet. 

With King Tides, the tidal shifts are exacerbated, often followed by an extremely low tidal event. In Winter 2017/2018, the high tide reached approximately 7.5 feet above sea level, whereas the lowest tide fell as low as -2.0 below sea level. Extreme tidal shifts, like these, lead to exploration of the intertidal zone below. 

San Diego County King Tides Dates 2017/2018: 
•    December 3, 4 and 5, 2017
•    January 1 and 2, 2018

Associated Extremely Low Tide Dates 2017/2018:
•    December 3, 4 and 5, 2017
•    January 1, 2 and 3, 2018

When the King Tide falls, here are some intertidal creatures that you may observe. 

A Spanish Shawl nudibranch showing the fiercely bright cerata warn would be predators of the dangers of trying to eat this small morsel.

NPS Photo/Nicole Ornelas. The fiercely bright cerata of the Spanish Shawl nudibranch warn would be predators of the dangers of trying to eat this small morsel.


Norissa snail
NPS Photo/Nicole Ornelas. More often found in the kelp forest canopy, on a extreme low tide, Norissa snails can be found with their bright orange foot. 


Under the cavernous rocks- kelp crabs hide from the receding tide.
NPS Photo/Nicole Ornelas. Under the cavernous rocks- kelp crabs hide from the receding tide. 

Next time the King Tide falls, make sure you are there (early) to explore the intertidal zone. 

Last updated: January 13, 2018

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