By Spencer Apollonio
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There is another point to be made about tides and sea-level changes, and this point also helps us to think about the nature of ecosystems. The 42 Physical Characteristics of the Gulf of Maine reasons for thinking about tides and sea level differ. We think about daily tides for the purpose of going for a mess of clams or gathering seaweed for the garden. We calculate spring and neap tides for grounding out a boat to clean its bottom, or to plug a leak, or for recovering lost moorings. We might dig for clams several times a week, but we hope that we lose moorings only rarely.
High tides and low tides occur at different times from day to day, and their heights each day are different. We have to consult the newspaper or tide tables to keep track of this everchanging phenomenon of the gulf. Further, there are a number of other phenomena closely associated with tides such as currents, fronts, and tidal mixing, but we would be hard-pressed to think of comparable phenomena of the gulf associated in the same way with sea level. In short, we have to think of dynamic tides in quite different terms than we think of stable (within our time frame of reference) sea level, even though they are similar and related variations on the theme of water-level changes; tides are dynamics operating within the context of a (relatively) static sea level.
Hierarchical perspectives on marine complexities: searching for systems in the Gulf of Maine by Spencer Apollonio