Beachgoers head to coast to see extreme tides: Rare 'king tides' occurring on San Diego coast

SAN DIEGO - A rare phenomenon is happening on the San Diego coast. It is called the California "king tides" and many San Diegans are headed to the ocean to see it. 

In Point Loma on Wednesday afternoon, the water was at a rare low tide of 1.5 feet.

"This is beautiful," said visitor Ali Dacantor. "I've come here once before and it was nowhere near this low, it was pretty low but we didn't get to see nearly as much."

It occurs every January, and it is called the California king tides. Tides are much higher and lower than normal.

"Earth and the sun and the moon are all lined up perfectly so we have the gravitational pull," said Travis Pritchard, who is with San Diego Coast Keeper.

Because of the alignment of the Earth with the sun and the moon, the California high tides are amplified and the low tides expose even more for people to explore.

"We've seen starfish and some little hermit crabs, snails… I think I saw an octopus arm," said Dacantor.

Factor in a new moon Friday and San Diego beaches may be busier than normal. The peak occurs Friday but there will be great viewing Thursday as well.

The extreme high tide on Thursday of 7.3 feet occurs at 7:24 a.m., while the extreme low tide of -1.8 feet occurs at 2:29 p.m. On Friday, we'll have high tide of 7.4 feet at 8:11 a.m. and a low tide of almost 2 feet at 3:10 p.m.

Pritchard said these king tides may become more extreme in the coming years due to global warming and rising sea levels.

"A lot of San Diego's economy is based off of our coastline, so when we have sea level rise impacting our coastline then that's really something we need to care about in San Diego," he said.

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