Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Dear Kayak Yak: Tides Everywhere?

Dear Kayak Yak:
There's high tide twice a day here in Victoria, and the difference between low tide and high tide is easy to see on local beaches. The difference between high and low tide is even more in the Bay of Fundy and along the shores of Ungava in Northern Quebec. What I'm wondering is -- is there anywhere in the world that there's no real difference between high tide and low tide? Would those be nice calm places for a quiet recreational paddle outing?
Looking For a Constant Sea Level

Dear Looking:
There are indeed several places around the world where there's little if no difference between high tide and low tide! And no, these aren't places on land. Ha ha.
A place where the tidal range is almost zero is called an amphidromic point. You can read an interesting article about these places on Wikipedia. The nearest one is half-way between Hawaii and Mexico.
At these amphidromic points, there's almost no difference in tidal height, even though the tidal current may be whipping along at a good clip. So an amphidromic point wouldn't be really be a calm place for a quiet time on the water.
That page also has this image made by NASA, showing the amphidromic points around the world. We're able to use the image here, because it like most NASA material is not copyrighted. Thank you, NASA experts!

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