Unusual tidal activity spotted in West Cork on Saturday left locals puzzled.
The tide began to rush out of Courtmacsherry Harbor around 2pm just as charter boat operator David Edwards was cleaning the hull of his boat moored at the local pontoon.
“I was upside down and I could see the water was going the wrong way, it should have gone in,” he said.
“Then I saw that the locals were all looking at the water and it was clear that something very strange was going on. The water was rushing like a river. I had never seen anything like it before. The first thing you think about is the “tsunami” and to be honest if it was going any faster I think we would all have headed for the hills.
A few miles from shore, Adrian Nowotynski was mooring his boat in Union Hall harbor and about to row ashore when he noticed the tide beginning to behave in an unusual way.
“I had just returned from dropping people off at Rosscarbery and was rowing towards shore when I noticed it around 3.15pm. I realized I was not advancing with my little boat and the tide was really beating against me,” he said.
“It was going so fast that my boat was keeled to the bottom, along with a number of yachts and fishing trawlers, and I had never seen this before. My first instinct was that there must be an earthquake somewhere, no one had ever seen the like of Union Hall before.
Mr Nowotynski said the tide receded 1.5m in about five minutes and came in and out twice in less than half an hour.
“People were very worried, when you see something like this you wonder what’s going on. There were people trying to get in from a yacht and they were also pinned down. They were a bit further and said they could see a big wave coming like a tidal bore,” he said.
Tim Forde, commodore of Glandore Harbor Yacht Club across the bay from Union Hall, noticed the unusual tide as he sailed back along the harbour.
“I had picked up my daughter from work and we were crossing the Poulgorm Bridge at the top of the harbor when I noticed it. It was amazing. The tide was expected to drop to six knots two hours after low tide, then six minutes later it would come back just as fast. There were boats stranded in the mooring field. It was like tidal bore conditions and a change of direction in minutes with mud carried out to sea.”
At Union Hall, the tide was seen coming in and out five times in the space of about three hours and dropping to levels below those seen in living memory in Glandore Harbour, locals said. Unusual tidal fluctuations have also been reported further east along the coast at New Ross and Kilmore Quay in County Wexford.
According to Coastguard Station Valentia, a combination of northerly winds and high tides may have been a factor in the unusual occurrences.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Center recorded a magnitude 2.6 earthquake at 11:28 a.m. Irish time west of Portugal near the Azores, about 1,900 km southwest of Ireland, this which could explain certain tidal anomalies. The 1755 earthquake off Portugal, which caused massive loss of life and destruction in Lisbon, impacted as far as Ireland, sending tsunamis to the southwest coast in particular.