After an extreme low tide phenomenon was recorded across Greece, pedestrians in Kavouri, south-east of Athens, explored an islet on Sunday which is normally only accessible to swimmers.
While low tide is an everyday occurrence along the seashore, the recent phenomenon, called a spring tide, was so extreme that it left much of the sea floor exposed and many sites which had been previously inaccessible to pedestrians, open for exploration.
Greeks flocked to social media to upload images of well-known beaches that have been left nearly unrecognizable by the extraordinarily low tide.
After observing the sea recede so far back, many feared that the low tide was related to the powerful earthquake, measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale, that hit central Greece on Wednesday.
Experts, however, have dismissed this theory, assuaging Greeks’ fears of storm surges and flooding in the wake of the earthquake.
Such low tides occur when the sun, Earth, and moon are in alignment
They attribute the unusual phenomenon to a combination of meteorological and astronomical factors, including strong southerly winds, high atmospheric pressure, and the positions of the sun and the moon.
When the sun and moon and positioned in a straight line across from each other, as they are now, they cause the sea to bulge, as the water is pulled by the both the sun’s and the moon’s gravitational force.
Normal tides result from the moon’s gravitational pull on the water on Earth’s surface, causing the water to bulge. As the moon makes its monthly orbit around the Earth, it pulls the bulge of water along its surface, causing changes in the tides.
Due to proximity, the moon’s pull on the Earth is actually two times stronger than the Sun’s gravitational pull on the earth.
Such extreme tidal phenomena only occur, however, when the pull of the sun’s gravity is also in play, as it enhances the moon’s influence on the Earth when the two celestial bodies are in alignment. This occurs two times each lunar month.
This astronomical effect explains why such low tides have also been recorded in Greece’ neighboring country of Italy and in the state of New Jersey, along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
The addition of strong winds in area and high atmospheric pressure over the Mediterranean Sea has caused tides to receive even further than normal during this period.