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Types of Waves

What causes Ocean Waves?

Waves are caused by wind blowing over the surface of the ocean. The longer, stronger and further the wind blows, the bigger the waves will be.

Kinds of Waves?

There are three main kinds of waves.

  1. Shore Dump
    • A shore dump wave is a kind of wave where the waves shape up steeply before breaking powerfully in shallow water next to the shore.
    • Shore dump waves are a common cause of broken limbs and back injuries.
  2. Spilling Waves
    • Best waves for body surfing.
  3. Surging Waves
    • Surfing waves never break
    • They are dangerous to young/infant swimmers as they can knock them off their feet and wash them out to deep water.

What is a Rip Current?

A rip is a strong current running out to sea. Rip currents are the cause of most rescues performed at beaches. A rip current usually occurs when a channel forms between the shore and a sandbar, and large waves have built up water which then returns to sea, causing a drag effect. The larger the surf, the stronger the rip current. Rip currents are very dangerous. They can carry a weak or tired swimmer out into deep water.

What do Rip Currents look like?

Some common features of rip currents are:

  • Dark, murky brown water
  • Waves breaking further out to sea on both sides of the rip debris.

Caught in a Rip Current?

If you are caught in a rip current, the most important thing to do is stay calm. Then swim parallel to the shore for about 30 to 40 meters until you reach the breaking wave zone, then swim back to shore or signal for help.


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