When you think of a dangerous sea, you probably think of raging waves with foam heads, but perhaps the greatest danger is in what appears to be peaceful. Between the refraction waves there is a current that even Olympic swimmers cannot resist.
Coastal researcher Timothy Price (Utrecht University) says that so-called rip currents are one of the main reasons for the emergence of rescue teams.
Such a rupture is created between two sandbanks. These are the shallow parts of the water that cause the waves to break. Price: “Then, this water must return to the sea. He always chooses the path of least resistance, so he navigates the sandbanks.” This makes the current between the sandbanks very strong, as a swimmer, you can only drift from fifty to a hundred meters towards the open sea.
It’s easy to spot a rip current from a height, when you’re standing in a sand dune, for example. “Do you see a darker part where the waves don’t break? Then there’s the deeper channel where the water flows back into the sea,” Price explains.
So avoid parts of the sea where the water looks flatter and darker. If you see bits of litter or twigs moving away from the coast, they are probably also floating on a rip current.
“If you can no longer feel the sand under your feet, and find yourself moving further and further away from the shore, you may be in a rip current.” Bryce says there’s no point in swimming against her, even if it goes against your intuition. The rip current swims about ten kilometers per hour, Olympic swimmers swim at a top speed of about eight kilometers per hour, and you and I may swim at half speed, four kilometers per hour. “So you wouldn’t make it to the beach and you would be completely exhausted.”
This too: The location of this rip current changes from time to time, because the sandbanks move through the year.
But what should you do if you are stuck in a current rupture? Most importantly, do not panic. The current of the mouse cannot defeat you. Price: “Stay afloat, raise your hand and ask for help.”
Model calculations by scientists and observations by lifeguards show that if you want to swim, it’s best to let yourself go with the current and swim to the side as soon as you feel the current drop. Then swim to where you see the waves break again. There are sandy banks and there is a good chance of getting out of the sea more easily.
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