PLEASURE POINT -- The yin and yang of the ocean will be on full display in the next few days, with some of the lowest tides of the year set to expose sea life at Santa Cruz County beaches.
The King Tides also will bring some of the highest tides of the year, which can portend what rising sea levels could look like in the coming decades, according to researchers and environmental groups.
Like all tides, King Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and the position of the earth and sun. They are naturally occurring and happen a few times each year.
High tides of 6.4 feet or more will happen at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, 9:20 a.m. Wednesday and 10:15 a.m. Thursday, according to Surfline.com. Afternoon low tides of about -1.3 feet will take place at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, 4:15 p.m. Wednesday and 5 p.m. Thursday.
Tide pools at places like Pleasure Point and Natural Bridges State Beach should be fully exposed in the afternoons.
Lifeguards have asked beachgoers to know what the tide is doing to avoid getting knocked down by waves or trapped on a beach during a rising tide.
One group that is using King Tides to raise awareness of flooding and sea-level rise is the California King Tides Initiative. It's an online group organized by researchers and environmentalists to collect participants' photos of the highest tides.
"The images offer a living record of the changes to our coasts and shorelines and a glimpse of what our daily tides may look like in the future as a result of sea level rise," according to the group's website, CaliforniaKingTides.org.
Some residents also checked out the changing sea shore on Monday afternoon.
Eric Buckmann of Santa Cruz walked from Capitola to Santa Cruz and watched the dozens of surfers at Cowell Beach before walking the rest of the way home.
"I was just at Upper Yacht Harbor and there was a boat that was almost in the mud," Buckmann said.
Sandy Morison from Manteca said the low tide brought 2- to 4-foot sets of great beginner waves at Cowell's.
"There's a whole lot of beginners out there and a bunch of old guys like me talking about how good we used to be," Morison said.
He said he rode waves for 300 yards, and the tide was low enough that he could walk along the rocks and sand back to the lineup.
P.K. Moore from Morro Bay drove to Cowell's on Monday because he knew low tide would bring good waves for beginners. He watched his 12-year-old granddaughter Kaela Whittingham, a Toronto resident, catch her first waves.
"The waves were perfect," Moore said. "This is December for heaven's sake. This is quintessential California."
Staff writers Jason Hoppin and Kara Guzman contributed to this report. Follow Sentinel reporter Stephen Baxter at Twitter.com/sbaxter_sc
WHAT ARE KING TIDES?
King Tides represent some of the highest and lowest tides of the year.
TUESDAY: High of 6.6 feet at 8:30 a.m., low of -1.4 feet at 3:30 p.m.
WEDNESDAY: High of 6.6 feet at 9:20 a.m., low of 1.5 feet at 4:15 p.m.
THURSDAY: High of 6.5 feet at 10:15 a.m., low of -1.4 feet at 5 p.m.