Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Victoria will have its lowest tides in a generation this week

Tide-pool spelunkers rejoice: lunar cycles are aligning to drag the water to rare lows Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday

By Jimmy Thomson
July 11, 2022
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Victoria will have its lowest tides in a generation this week

Tide-pool spelunkers rejoice: lunar cycles are aligning to drag the water to rare lows Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday

By Jimmy Thomson
Jul 11, 2022
Photo: Colin Smith / Capital Daily
Photo: Colin Smith / Capital Daily
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Victoria will have its lowest tides in a generation this week

Tide-pool spelunkers rejoice: lunar cycles are aligning to drag the water to rare lows Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday

By Jimmy Thomson
July 11, 2022
Get the news and events in Victoria, in your inbox every morning.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Victoria will have its lowest tides in a generation this week
Photo: Colin Smith / Capital Daily

This week, you can venture below the sea without even getting your feet wet. The tide this morning and tomorrow will drop below “chart datum,” the typical lowest tide, exposing more of the creatures that live there than you’ll see the vast majority of the time.

Tides change on a few time scales based on where the moon is and how near it is to the Earth, depending on cycles, some of which change every day and some of which last nearly 19 years. They’re “cycles of cycles of cycles,” explains Wendel Raymond, a nearshore ecology research scientist at the University of Washington in an email.

What's special about this year is that several of those cycles are aligning at once—and the result is a dramatic downward swoop to the lowest low tides.

Support Your Community, Support Local Journalism

With paid membership, every penny goes directly to helping our newsroom continue its work and helps our team grow and expand our coverage

Become an Insider

“It’s not unexpected—but they are extremely low,” explains UVic oceanographer Dr. Richard Dewey. 

That’s an opportunity for Tina Kelly, director of learning and communications at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea in Sidney. 

“We like to bust out of the building, as educators,” she says. Today and tomorrow Kelly and her colleagues will be taking full advantage of the situation, with free exploration workshops today and Thursday. “People are often surprised to see how much life is on the shoreline here, on the shore itself.” 

On rocky shores like those in Sidney, expect to see sea stars, limpets, nudibranchs, and more. On the protected, sandy shore in Patricia Bay, you might see giant sunflower stars, crabs, and burrowing sand dollars. The aquarium is hosting events in both locations.

The exact timing of the tide depends on the beach, and tide charts are available online.

Of course, tidepool gazing doesn’t require a guide, but Kelly has a few tips for independent explorations. First, sunscreen and shoes with good grip are essential for safety. Band-aids might not be a bad idea either, with sharp barnacles featuring prominently on rocky shores. For the safety of the creatures themselves, she recommends not moving any rocks bigger than your head—and putting them back, gently, exactly as you found them afterwards. 

“If you leave it turned upside down there’s going to be some effect on the animals,” she says. 

Creatures that are clinging tightly to the rock should be left as they are, while fish should be left alone; a mucus film that covers their scales is best left undisturbed.

Field guides are a good thing to bring, though Kelly also says she and her team are happy to help identify creatures using a picture.

@capitaldaily Victoria has its lowest tides in a generation this week 🌊 #yyj #victoriabc #canada #vancouverisland #capitaldaily #ocean #britishcolumbia ♬ Sea - SKHSOUNDS

The low tides will affect the entire South Island; some of Kelly’s favourite spots outside of Sidney are at Macaulay Point in Esquimalt, Harling Point and Cattle Point in Oak Bay, Island View Beach in Saanichton, East Sooke Park, and Botanical Beach in Port Renfrew for those looking for an adventure outside of town.

Last summer’s lowest tides, which were nearly as low as this summer’s, coincided with record temperatures and led to a mass die-off of marine animals that scientists are still monitoring—read our feature story on how species are rebounding here. This week’s low tides are expected to coincide with beautiful—and not deadly—weather.

Correction: an earlier version of this article including a quote incorrectly stating that the sun was closer than usual during the summer.

Article Author's Profile Picture
Jimmy Thomson
Managing Editor
contact@capitaldaily.ca

Support Your Community, Support Local Journalism

With paid membership, every penny goes directly to helping our newsroom continue its work and helps our team grow and expand our coverage

Become an Insider

Related News

Vic West pocket beach restoration underway for fish habitat, canoes
Stay connected to your city with the Capital Daily newsletter.
By filling out the form above, you agree to receive emails from Capital Daily. You can unsubscribe at any time.