Birding the Tides

July 26, 2016

     The tides have a profound effect on Coastal habitats. The force of the water as it rises into (flood tide) and falls out of (ebb tide) the salt marsh and salt flats stirs up a great diversity of micro and macro organisms that in turn trigger a feeding frenzy up the food chain. Tides are created by the gravitational forces laid upon the earth by the Sun and Moon, but since the moon is the closest to Earth, it is the major factor in the intensity of the tides through its monthly lunar cycle. The most extreme tides with the largest range between high and low water are the “spring tides” and they occur just after a new and full moon. Spring tides occur twice a month and the term “spring” is not in reference to the season, but rather derived from the concept that the tides “spring forth”.  During a new and full moon the Sun and the Moon come into alignment and their combined gravitational forces create a bigger bulge on the ocean and therefore a higher tide.