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Get Your Cameras Ready for Oregon Coast King Tides, November 15 - 17

Published 10/29/20 at 6:54 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Get Your Cameras Ready for Oregon Coast King Tides, November 15 - 17

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(Bandon, Oregon) – Every winter, early in the season, high tides on the Oregon coast get to higher-than-normal surges, becoming what are called “king tides.” They occur at a few specific times during the year when the moon’s orbit comes closest to the earth, the earth’s orbit is closest to the sun, and the sun, moon and earth are in alignment, thereby increasing their gravitational influence on the tides. These tidal events are also known as perigean spring tides. (Above: Seal Rock is inundated by massive tides, photo Steve Derr).

The Oregon Coast’s version of the King Tides photo project is coming up on November 15 – 17, and they need you.

The goal of this citizen science project is to encourage Oregonians and visitors to submit photos they take of the king tides to help track sea level rise over time and reveal its impacts on the Oregon coast. The value of the project thus increases over time, as the record of changes caused by higher tides lengthens. Photographers are also encouraged to take photos at average high tides from the identical vantage points of their “king tides” shots, for purposes of comparison.

Anyone can participate by taking a photo during the peak period of a king tide, anywhere on the outer coast or along estuaries or lower river valleys. Photos that show the highest stand of the tide with reference to a man-made structure or natural feature reveal the reach of the tide most clearly.  Participants then submit their photos through the project website (www.oregonkingtides.net). For the 10-year anniversary of the project, a fantastic interactive web display was created to highlight the initiative through time. Many other partners support the project on-the-ground, such as watershed councils, non-profit groups, tourism groups, and public ports.


Above: what Seal Rock looks like normally

The King Tides Project on the Oregon coast is this state’s branch of an international grassroots effort to document coastal areas flooded by the highest winter tides. It started in Australia (where such extreme high-water events are called “king tides,” hence the name). In 2010, West Coast states, including Oregon, began to document their king tides. In 2012, the project spread to the East Coast and continues to expand today.

Here in Oregon, the King Tides Project has been developed and coordinated by the CoastWatch Program of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, and the Oregon Coastal Management Program, and branch of the Department of Land Conservation and Development. It has now grown to the point that more than 100 volunteer photographers contributed more than 400 photos to the project’s archives last winter. (See Southern Coast)

The images reveal current vulnerabilities to flooding. Even more important, they help our civilization visualize and understand the coming impacts of sea level rise (such as flooding and erosion) to coastal communities. These tides are especially important to document when storm surges and high winds and waves create even higher water levels.

This year, the three sequences of “king tides” that will be the focus of the project take place November 15-17, 2020; December 13-15, 2020; and January 11-13, 2021.

To get a better view of the project, browse the King Tides photo albums by season: https://www.flickr.com/photos/orkingtide/albums. You don’t have to be a scientist to understand and help to document how sea level rise may impact places in our own communities.  Of course, all participants are urged to take photos from a safe location, and to avoid putting themselves in danger while taking and submitting pictures.

• Albums by season: https://www.flickr.com/photos/orkingtide/albums
• Newport to Florence, 2020: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alex1derr/albums/72157713219085151
• Ground level shots and repeats: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alex1derr/albums/72157712637555357
•  Cape Blanco to Seal Rock, 2019: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alex1derr/albums/72157676409355997
• Coquille River, 2019: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alex1derr/albums/72157705029906411

For more information, contact Meg Reed, Coastal Shores Specialist with the OCMP program, (541) 514-0091, meg.reed@state.or.us; or Jesse Jones, CoastWatch Volunteer Coordinator, (503) 989-7244, jesse@oregonshores.org. MORE KING TIDES BELOW

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King tide on the Nehalem Spit.\Photo by Steve Morey


King tide at the Coquille River jetty in Bandon.\Photo by Dwight Scarbrough

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