King Tide

Mark your calendar, make sure your camera is in working order, and prepare to visit the coast during 2015’s “King Tide” episodes. Anyone capable of taking a picture can contribute to citizen science and help to focus (literally) attention on high tides and sea level rise.

Through the King Tide Project, photographers help to document the reach of the year’s highest tides, the “King Tides.” This year the project takes place during three sets of extreme tides: Oct. 27-29, Nov. 24-27, and Dec. 23-25.

For the sixth year, the annual project is being sponsored by the CoastWatch Program of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, Surfrider, and the state’s Coastal Management Program, along with local sponsors. This is the Oregon branch of an international volunteer effort to record the year’s highest tides. (The idea began in Australia, where such events are known as “King Tides,” hence the name.) Documenting the highest reach of the tides tells us something about areas of the natural and built environments which are subject to erosion and flooding now. It tells us even more about what to expect as sea level rises.

Anyone capable of taking a photograph and able to get to the coast during the series of high tides can help by taking shots anywhere on the coast at the highest point of the tide on those days. These photos can focus on any feature. Those that show the location of the tide in relation to the built environment (roads, seawalls, buildings) are especially useful in demonstrating impending threats. Subjects can be the outer coast, or estuaries and lower river valleys affected by tides. The ideal photo would be taken from a location where the photographer can return later at an ordinary high tide to take a comparison shot. Photographers are also encouraged to focus on iconic or easily recognizable locations and areas where the high water is impacting infrastructure in order to effectively highlight the effects of rising sea levels.

CoastWatch is making a special effort to organize photographers to document the reach of the King Tides in the vicinity of the new marine reserves (Cape Falcon, Cascade Head, Otter Rock, Cape Perpetua and Redfish Rocks).

Participants will post photographs online through the King Tide Photo Initiative website, where project information and the online submission form can be accessed. Be prepared to include the location, date, description, and direction of the photo.

For more information about the technical aspects of the project, contact Andy Lanier, Coastal Resources Specialist for the Oregon Coastal Management Program at (541) 934-0072,

At the conclusion of the project, three wrap-up celebrations will be held along the coast: Jan. 8, 2016 in Clatsop County; Jan. 15 in Lincoln County; and Jan. 22 celebration in Coos County. Exact locations and times will be announced later. At these events the best of the King Tide photos will be shown, photographers will be on hand to comment, and there will be a special speaker. These events will be free and open to all (appetizers are provided with beverages and meals available for purchase at the venues).

For information about the project, and about participating in the special effort to document the King Tides in the marine reserve areas, contact Fawn Custer, CoastWatch volunteer coordinator, at (541) 270-0027,