Low Tides On The BC Coast

Low Tides On The BC Coast

A low tide on the British Columbia coast in Fall will reveal all sorts of treasures and provide many easy, close-to-home escapes. Even on a lighthouse, low tide was a time to explore.

Check your Tide Tables closely for tides near zero or even lower, known as minus tides. (Canadian Tide Tables for all coasts).

Wait for the high tide and then the lowering water will start revealing the riches. Here are some ways to make the most of it.


Tidal pool

The first storms of fall have a double-whammy effect. Across miles of ocean, the big wind-driven swells carry in tons of goodies. At the same time, the inshore hydraulics will dig up shells, agates and sand dollars. The high tide will bring the goodies into the beach, and the low tide that follows will then unveil the treasures to beachcombers.


Across bay wetlands, the low tide will expose miles of mud flats, along with tidal marshes cut by channeled sloughs. The usual suspects, egrets and herons, will be easy finds, along with sandpipers, willets, scaups and more.


During minus low tides, the ocean rolls back and uncovers inshore tidal reefs. Amid the rocks, you will find pockets, crevices and channels filled with seawater. You can often see hermit crabs, starfish, sea anemones, the ubiquitous snail and the rare octopus, and sometimes a small trapped fish. Just leave it there and he will find his way out on the next high tide.


PS Where’s your favourite place to go beachcombing. Let us know.


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Retired (2001) British Columbia lighthouse keeper after 32 years on the lights.

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