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Contrasts created by king tides offer unique views of nature

A dozen early-morning nature lovers looked out at the Upper Newport Bay on Sunday, Jan. 2, as Nathan Taxel described the view.

“It looks like someone left the hose on overnight.”

The OC Parks resource specialist explained the king tide phenomenon at work Sunday, one of a few days a year when the tides are at their highest because of the alignment of the gravitational pull between the sun and the moon.

The group got to see the peak of the tide, which raised water in the bay about 8 feet higher than usual, before it slowly receded back to sea by 3:30 p.m.

“During the king tides we get our lowest low tides of the year as well as the highest highs,” Taxel said.

A slightly smaller king tide is expected Monday, Jan. 3.

Sun Joo of Irvine was with her 7-year-old daughter, Eunsaem, who was busy sketching nearby. While Joo looked out at the marsh with binoculars, Eunsaem, a second grader who wants to be a paleontologist, sketched a great blue heron the group spotted.

Because of the high tide, birds were floating closer to the shoreline than usual, Taxel explained. It is a good time for spotting birds often hidden away in the marshy areas.

A group of endangered Ridgway’s rails could be seen about 100 yards out.

Paulette Chaffee of Fullerton said she attended the guided tour because she knew king tides occur in winter, but she wanted to learn more.

“We’re so fortunate to have this area where so many birds can come and be safe in their migratory habitats.” she said.

“We’re all a part of nature.”

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