Waves, Tides and Different Currents

Written By : Walkerbay Dive School
February 12, 2020

Types of waves that you get?

Waves are mostly generated by wind that blows over the surface of the ocean, this creates the waves that we see most of the time. Waves don’t necessarily transport water, they only move energy forwards and backwards. Some waves are much more powerful, the depth of the wave and the pull of the current makes it stronger. Do not underestimate small waves, some small waves are very powerful, mostly because the undertow of the wave is so strong that it creates very small wave with twice the power. Learn more about these Waves, Tides and Currents in a course.

Square Waves

Some waves are called square waves, these are very powerful and dangerous. Square waves are a common phenomenon that happens close to the islands of France. They are formed by waves from two different weather systems that flow towards each parallel to the shore. They then meet with the existing water motion vertivcally heading towards shore to form a square shaped wave. Waves like these have massive force behind them and for ships these are dangerous as it can lift the ship up and drop the ship down hard, which causes hull damage.

How do the tides affect the waves/currents?

Tidal currents occur in conjunction with the fall and the rise of the tide. The vertical motion of the tides near the shore creates horizontal water movement that turns into currents. Low tide creates small waves that have a lot of power seeing that they are closer to the bottom, creating a stronger undertow. High tide however creates bigger waves with a pushing force. This makes it easy for sea life to enter or exit the tidal pools.

Can currents be difficult to get out of?

Rip currents are the most difficult to get out of… BUT it can be done. Let us first explain what a rip current is, this particular current is formed close to beaches with breaking waves. A rip current cannot pull you underwater, it merely moves you away from the waves and into the direction of the open ocean. Currents like these form because of wind and breaking waves that push surface water towards land but creates a “River” going out to sea in between them. Waves that are breaking on shore feeds the current and thus creates the river.

This explains where to exit the rip current.

How do you get out of the Rip Current?

The most popular question about currents will be how to get out from them, this however differs from currents. In the rip current you DO Not want to swim against the current back to shore, rather stay calm and keep yourself afloat, let the current push you past the breaking waves and into calmer waters, then swim parallel to the shore back towards the beach.