SEATTLE — The forecast calls for low tides throughout the Puget Sound this week, providing good opportunities for beachcombing.
Lower than normal tides are expected through Friday for Puget Sound. Monday and Tuesday will feature the lowest tides this week. Tides on these days are expected to be nearly four feet lower than normal.
Low-low tide schedule this week
- Monday: 3.70 feet below normal at 12:26 p.m.
- Tuesday: 3.67 feet below normal at 1:13 p.m.
- Wednesday: 3.2 feet below normal at 2:03 p.m.
- Thursday: 2.4 feet below normal at 2:55 p.m.
- Friday: 1.2 feet below normal at 3:49 p.m.
Last year Puget Sound had historically low tides.
The tide was 4.28 feet lower than normal on June 15 and 4.11 feet lower than normal on June 16. That was the lowest tide in 13 years.
What causes low tide?
Tides are the rising and falling of the ocean largely driven by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun and their relative position to Earth. These tides are considered to be very long waves that move across the Earth's oceans. When the wave is at its highest point reaching the coast, it's high tide. When the wave is at its lowest point reaching the coast, it's low tide.
The lower-than-normal tides unveil areas and ecosystems that are normally submerged by the cold, salty Puget Sound waters, providing a unique opportunity for people to check out the tidepools and marine life.
Potential impacts of low tide
Washington State Ferries (WSF) has adjusted its service because of the low tide forecast this week.
The agency issued a notice on Monday morning about steep loading ramps at Vashon Island terminals through Thursday afternoon. This will affect vehicles with a longer truck, low ground clearance and long rear overhangs.
Low tide can cause problems for boats. Ramps on and off the boats can get "very" steep during low tide, a WSF spokesperson said.
RVs, semi-trucks and people towing trailers might face boarding restrictions during extreme low tide.
The impact is especially great at the ferry terminal in Edmonds because it carries the most freight out of any other route in the system.
Tide pool etiquette
If you want a chance to safely explore the multitude of marine life with the lower tides this week, you can join beach naturalists who are part of the Seattle Aquarium Beach Naturalist Program.
The group has the following guidelines to keep yourself and the animals on the beaches safe:
- Walk carefully; there is life beneath your feet.
- Touch gently with one wet finger.
- Observe animals where they are and avoid picking them up.
- Only move rocks that are small enough to be moved with one hand. Carefully return the rocks to the exact position you found them in.
- Do not remove anything natural from the beach. Many of the beaches here are protected by law.
- Carry a small garbage bag to pick up trash. Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment To learn more about studying and protecting marine animals and ecosystems, click here.