King Tide


King Tide arrives on theoutershores around Christmas each year. These are the highest spring tides of the year. Low lying infrastructure gets flooded, beach debris is mobilized and there are King Tide photo initiatives all around the world. All the photos in this post were taken on December 12, 2012 when the daytime high tide was 10.4′ with a NW swell of about 13′ and 3′ wind waves. To put this tide in perspective check out my Surf and Tides pages.


King Tide is so high it mobilizes wrack that has been accumulating for nearly a year. When I’m on theoutershores I’m usually thinking about surfperch, and I have fishing gear with me. But not on King Tide, when rolling the logs and other debris make it unsafe to concentrate on fishing.


High tides deposit new material in the wrack, so there is good beach combing following King Tide. This is a Japanese fishing float. I haven’t seen much Japanese fishing gear in the wrack since last spring. Styrofoam floats like this one were in much better shape then.


This small plastic float held up a lot better. I found many of these in the wrack last spring. If you want to check out some things I found in the wrack in 2012 take a look at Wrack Line 2012.


This is a large black Sanshin Kako float. I can’t find it in their current catalogue. If you want to see some other floats I’ve encountered on the outer shores, check out Floats.


High tide also brings carcasses of seabirds like this common murre. On December 12, I also encountered carcasses of northern fulmars and a red phalarope.


With lots of fresh carcasses on the beach the gulls are watchful. These are western gulls. The next King Tide on theoutershores beaches is January 10-12. Check it out if you get the chance.

Note: I updated the images and lightly edited the text on October 7, 2017. Since I wrote this post, I’ve written a summaries of King Tides on northern Oregon beaches at:
Comparing King Tides,
My 2015 King Tide Project – Swell Matters,
It’s Not This Time of Year Without High Tides and Crashing Surf, and
King Tide 2016.

1 Comment

  1. Most of those floats, I’m guessing, are used in fishing or crabbing operations. As to the origins of the one you found, that could take some investigating. If there are words on the float you can sometimes track the origin down.

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