What are tides?

Tides are greatly influenced by the gravitational pull from the moon and sun. The moon's elliptic orbit means that twice a month, the moon, sun and Earth are in direct alignment and create a combined gravitational force.

In the open ocean, the tidal force of the moon will appear as bulges of water facing the moon whereas around land mass the water can spread out onto land creating tides.

Types of tides

There are two main tides that are higher or lower than average. They occur twice monthly and are called neap and spring tides.

Neap tides

When there is a low tide, the Moon faces the Earth at a right angle to the Sun so the gravitational force of the Moon and Sun work against each other. These tides are referred to as neap tides; a low tide or one that is lower than average. A neap tide happens between two spring tides and occurs twice a month when the first and last quarter Moon appears.

Spring tides

When there is a high tide, the Sun, Moon and Earth are in alignment and the gravitational force is strong. These tides are known as spring tides and occur twice a month. In this case the Moon can appear in between the Earth and Sun resulting in a solar eclipse, or at the furthest point away from the Sun resulting in a full Moon. When in alignment, the Moon and Sun combine in gravitational forces to bring the highest and lowest tides of the month.