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The word “Tides” may not be regularly used in the vocabulary of those living a long way from the coastline but it is definitely used very frequently or even everyday by those living close to the sea.

The livelihood of a majority of those living close to the sea, which would invariably be fishing because of their close proximity to the sea, depends very much on the tides hence their fervent interest in it.

Tides have been an integral part of their lives for generations because leaving the shores on their fishing expeditions depended on the behavior of the Moon, of which they aware of, though they did not understand the intricacies of how it worked and the benefits which accrued to them.

The people living beside the shores were fascinated by the rise and fall of the sea and in some areas of the world it was quite a spectacle with the difference very much evident which was due to the positioning of the Moon at that particular time.

What are tides

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What are Tides?

What we term as tides is the rise and fall of the sea levels at the shore, with some shorelines experiencing a low tide and a high tide every day at approximately 12 hour intervals that are called semi-diurnal tides which are mostly equal in height of the rise and the fall of the water levels.

There are other shorelines which would experience one high tide and one low tide each day that are called diurnal tides and what happens is that the rise and fall of the sea at the shoreline occurs only once a day.

There are other shorelines that experience something much different to the above two and they are mixed tides where the rise and fall of the sea at the shoreline with one low tide and one high tide but their daily rise and fall of the sea would be uneven unlike the semi-diurnal tides.

Tides helped those living near the shore and who were in the fishing trade to bring their boats onto the beach when it was high tide and leave it safely until the next high tide came along to take it back into the sea.

So it would seem that they depended on the tides to go about their daily business which practice is still followed even though technology is at its peak.

Tide charts and currents

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Why tides occur?

We have learned very early in our lives about gravity and what it does to our well being on planet Earth and how it keeps all of us with our feet on the ground.

If there was no gravity we would be floating in the air, be able to leap long distances, jump tens or even hundreds of feet high up in the air. We know much about gravity and experience it because it is very much part of our lives and most of what we do involves and revolves around gravity.

The cause of this gravity or the controller of this gravitational pull or force is the Sun which keeps all the planets in our solar system and the respective satellites of the planets, like our Moon we see every day circling around planet Earth, in one tight bind due to the same gravity.

It is this same gravitational pull between the Sun, Earth and our Moon that has an effect on the waters of the seas and oceans.

When the Moon circles around Earth everyday and planet Earth circles around the Sun completing it in one year, the positioning of these three heavenly bodies increases and reduces the gravitational pull on each other.

It is this increase and reduction in the gravitational pulls among these three that causes the seas and oceans to rise and fall causing the various types of tides that we have mentioned above.

So it is scientifically proven that the low tide and the high tide are directly related to the positioning of the Sun, Earth and our Moon and this being a continuum occurrence.

Tides and fishing

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Tides and fishing

It was believed in very early days when man started fishing in the seas that the Sun and the Moon had an effect on the amount of fish that was netted, but there was no proper method to assume, that what they believed was really true.

Some fishermen managed to net their fish by sheer experience rather than any scientific knowledge or proven method to back the practices that they had initiated.

This position changed in May 1926 when John Aldenn Knight put together a theory based on 33 different factors that he had put together mostly based on folklore and the experience gained by fishermen which was more or less gospel at the time to initiate what he called the solunar theory.

Of the 33 factors that he put forward 30 were rejected by the experts of the time due to being unsubstantiated by scientific data, though there was very little of that during that time.

What were accepted from the theory were the effects of the Sun, Moon and the tide, which was in fact recognizing that these three were related in some way to the movement of fish in the seas and a day’s catch, could depend on it, to a very great extent.

John Aldenn Knight researched further and found that there was definitely a relationship between the three and also that the Moon had a separate effect of its own due to its movement around Earth and that fish tended to follow these positional changes of the Moon.

These came to be called fishing tides and even today with modern technology at their disposal fishermen use the positioning of the Moon to determine where to cast their nets and on what days it is best to catch fish and where.

The monitoring of fishing tides is necessary for fishermen out at sea to know where the shoals of fish are, and to do so they use very modern technology like sonar tracking and thermal imaging which provides the fishing trawlers the exact positioning of fish which are helped by satellites far above Earth.

The use of modern technology in finding for fish would be helpful but whether it is instrumental in destroying the future marine life in the seas is something that the powers entrusted with that responsibility would have to keep a close watch on.

Tides and solunar data

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Solunar tables

A theory that was suggested nearly a century ago is being developed and used extensively by fishermen today employing modern technology like the Global Positioning System (GPS), solunar tables are daily studied by fishermen before they set out to sea.

Solunar tables are available for whoever needs it and the United States Naval Observatory keeps a regular track of the positioning of the Sun, Moon and the Earth in relation to the effects of the tides.

International commercial fishing methods are under intense scrutiny today due to some unscrupulous individuals employing illegal fishing methods which are destroying marine life. This has prompted governments to introduce mandatory GPS technology to be installed in all deep sea commercial fishing trawlers to ensure easy monitoring of their activities.

The technology could also help fishermen to track the movement of fish and return to shore with a better catch than what they were enjoying before. It has also been determined that fish are in abundance when either the Sun or the Moon is directly above our heads or on the other side of Earth, below our feet.

This would show that the gravitational force of both the Sun and the Moon has a distinct and very effective reason for the fish in the ocean to swim much closer to the surface enabling a better catch for the fishermen.

With the advancement in technology it is now known that some of what John Aldenn Knight theorized in 1926 is in fact happening under the sea, and he did so without access to the sophisticated equipment we have at our disposal, today.

Every fishing port today all over the world have the solunar table and is an integral part of a professional fisherman’s life without which he would still fish, but not catch what he catches today.

Unlike a few decades ago fishing in the deep international sea waters have become very competitive and it is alarming to note that fishing resources are depleting and with some employing illegal methods a lot is at stake.

The tides would continue unabated as long as we have the Sun, the Moon and the Earth hung in space alongside each other but whether the fish would remain for the future generations to sustain themselves is a question we all would have to answer in the future.

Modern technology for fishing may be welcome by all but whether it should be mixed up with traditional methods too, is another question worth looking at seriously. There is no doubt and has been accepted universally that all our resources not only fishing are depleting fast and if we do not check them we may even find ourselves at the end of the food line soon.