Tuesday, January 1, 2013

“Too many times we stand aside and let the waters slip away, till what we put off till tomorrow has now become today. So don't you sit upon the shoreline and say you're satisfied. Choose to chance the rapids and dare to dance the tide.”

Low tide at Little Hickory uncovers the entire cove.

Just as important as the Where to shell would be the When to shell.  There are lots of really fabulous beaches in SWFL that will produce plenty of decent shelling finds whether it is hot or cold - sunny or rainy - windy or calm but if a high tide has the shoreline covered in water the chances of you finding a bonanza of shell goodies are greatly decreased.  Learning to determine the tide activity can greatly increase your shelling success.  Tides aren't just waves lapping up against the shore. Tides are the daily rise and fall of the ocean surface.

  A very simple way to understand the flow of the tides is that the tide comes in (high tide) and the tide goes out (low tide).  In a tidal day there are usually 4 tides - in - out - in - out but depending on the time of the year there might only be two tides in a day. Tides vary in a pattern over the course of the seasons.  The moon phase effects the strength of a tide especially the full and new moons. For those of us pursuing some  serious beach combing there are tide charts available online and published in our local newspapers.  Coastal marinas and bait shops usually have a copy of the monthly tides printed on a small card you can fold up and carry in your pocket for handy use.  I have a nifty tide chart app on my iPhone.

 my name is Karen and I'm a tide nerd. 

I love perusing my tide chart app and looking for the really low tides. Negative low tides are when the best shelling will be because the most shore line is exposed.  When a downward dip of a low tide falls below the normal 0.0 baseline it is referred to as a negative tide or a minus low tide.  I just call them wonderful shelling awesomeness!  Whenever there is a minus low on the tide horizon I try to make it to the beach somewhere.  The optimum conditions are a minus low tide that is right at sunrise. The early beach comber does get the shell.  While most casual shellers are still putzing around having their breakfast I have already been on the beach with a flashlight since 5am.  There are some really good minus low tides coming this month in SWFL.  The lowest negative tide of the year will be on 1/11 and it's a -1.1 in my area...sounds Mayan right? 

 Check your local tide charts and see what the low tide is in your neck of the coast.  Don't miss out because it's going to be fun.

Low tide at Stump Pass uncovers a huge shell pile.

All the tide information you need is in one place.  The Tide Graph V2.4 app can look up tide charts for any location in the continental USA and for any time frame.

The Bay of Fundy is known for having the highest tidal range in the world.  Watch this short video to give you an idea of how much beach a negative low tide can uncover.



  1. I really enjoy your posts. The timelaps video was really nice. :D

  2. Really cool video. I love the music. Wishing you a shell and shark tooth filled 1-11!

  3. you're funny! i find the tides interesting too.
    we have very tides at this time of year - christmas tides.
    happy new year!

  4. Cool video! It reminds me of clamming in Washington. Up in Wilapa Bay when the tide goes out, you cannot even catch a glimpse of the sea. It's amazing, and a little scary to be out there clamming and watching for signs of the tide coming back in. I was always ready to bolt at the least inclination of the ocean returning to the bay.

    I would love to be on the Gulf coast on the 11th :)

  5. ...but a pretty cute "tide nerd"!!!!!
    go on with your bad shellin' self!!

  6. Happy New Year, Karen!!! ...and happy beachcombing!

    Meanwhile, I am back at home... far away from sand, sea & shells. But we've enjoyed a great time in FL! I guess you're very busy with baking cakes and manage all these christmas things ;-) Hope to see you next time...

    Take care

  7. How interesting. I know that the beach at Canaveral is so wide that you can walk on it at any time...or tide but on Jekyll Island the ocean splashes up to the dunes and you can't even walk down the steps and get on the beach. The tide charts really are important there. Sweet hugs...wish I was there!

  8. Very well put Karen, The wind and tide dictate my life. I feel fortunate to have nature as my dictator. Very nice post. Thank you. Capt. Brian

  9. Cool video, I really enjoyed it :) Liked the pictures too!!


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