Here we put a list of some key references about tidal science and culture, and other books about aspects of tides, and specific tidal places (coasts, estuaries).
They vary from the highly scientific to more arts and literature based accounts.
See ‘Outputs’ pages for papers on tides by Owain and others.
We will start another page about tides in fiction soon.
We stress this is a selective, personal list. Most recent finds are top of the list now (2017).
The Book of Tides; William Thomson; 2016; Quercus
‘An idiosyncratic, richly illustrated guide to Britain’s rivers, seas and shores, for everyone who loves the water and the natural world – a Norwegian Wood for Britain’s waters
This is a book for those who want to understand better how the waters surrounding us affect our daily lives, how it imperceptibly but crucially shapes our actions, and has shaped our landscape for millenia. It’s for anyone who knows and loves our coast, and who wants to understand, discover, surf, or sail it better.
Inspired by his own witnessing of the power of the sea through travelling around Britain’s coastline in a panel van with his young family, William Thomson tells the story of the cycles of the sea. He combines a lyrical, passionate narrative with graphically beautiful renderings of the main forms of water which affect Britain: Rip, Rapids, Swell, Stream, Tide, Wave, Whirlpool, Tsunami.
The Book of Tides is a book for all of us who feel the pull of the sea and the tug of the tide.’
Click image to go to Amazon
RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR, Philip Hoare, 2017, Fourth Estate
“From the author of Leviathan, or, The Whale, comes a composite portrait of the subtle, beautiful, inspired and demented ways in which we have come to terms with our watery planet.
In the third of his watery books, the author goes in pursuit of human and animal stories of the sea. Of people enchanted or driven to despair by the water, accompanied by whales and birds and seals – familiar spirits swimming and flying with the author on his meandering odyssey from suburbia into the unknown.
Along the way, he encounters drowned poets and eccentric artists, modernist writers and era-defining performers, wild utopians and national heroes – famous or infamous, they are all surprisingly, and sometimes fatally, linked to the sea.
Out of the storm-clouds of the twenty-first century and our restive time, these stories reach back into the past and forward into the future. This is a shape-shifting world that has never been certain, caught between the natural and unnatural, where the state between human and animal is blurred. Time, space, gender and species become as fluid as the sea.
Here humans challenge their landbound lives through art or words or performance or myth, through the animal and the elemental. And here they are forever drawn back to the water.”
Click on image to see an Amazon
Between Pacific Tides; Edward F. Ricketts and Jack Calvin; 1992; Stanford University Press
“One of the classic works of marine biology, a favorite for generations, has now been completely revised and expanded. Between Pacific Tides is a book for all who find the shore a place of excitement, wonder, and beauty, and an unsurpassed introductory text for both students and professionals. This book describes the habits and habitats of the animals that live in one of the most prolific life zones of the world-the rocky shores and tide pools of the Pacific Coast of the United States. The intricate and fascinating life processes of these creatures are described with affectionate care. The animals are grouped according to their most characteristic habitat, whether rocky shore, sandy beach, mud flat, or wharf piling, and the authors discuss their life history, physiology, and community relations, and the influence of wave shock and shifting tide level. Though the basic purpose and structure-and much of the text-of the book remain the same, content has been increased by about 20 percent; a multitude of changes and additions has been made in the text; the Annotated Systematic Index and General Bibliography have been updated and greatly expanded (now almost 2,300 entries); more than 200 new photographs and drawings have been incorporated; and an entirely new chapter has been added-a topical presentation of the several factors influencing distribution of organisms along the shore. This edition also includes John Steinbeck’s Foreword to the 1948 edition.” Source, Amazon click here to ‘see inside‘
Down by the Bay: San Francisco’s History between the Tides; Matthew Morse Booker; 2013; University of California Press
San Francisco Bay is the largest and most productive estuary on the Pacific Coast of North America. It is also home to the oldest and densest urban settlements in the American West. Focusing on human inhabitation of the Bay since Ohlone times, Down by the Bay reveals the ongoing role of nature in shaping that history. From birds to oyster pirates, from gold miners to farmers, from salt ponds to ports, this is the first history of the San Francisco Bay and Delta as both a human and natural landscape. It offers invaluable context for current discussions over the best management and use of the Bay in the face of sea level rise. Source, Amazon, and ‘see inside’ here
This looks great – here is a quote
The tideslands – the lands exposed by low tide and covered by high tide – have a unique role in the region’s legal, economic, and social history (p 2).
Estuary: Out from London to the Sea; 2016
An immersive, intimate journey into the world of the Thames Estuary and the people who spend their lives there
The Thames Estuary is one of the world’s great deltas, providing passage in and out of London for millennia. It is silted up with the memories and artefacts of past voyages. It is the habitat for an astonishing range of wildlife. And for the people who live and work on the estuary, it is a way of life unlike any other – one most would not trade for anything, despites its dangers.
Rachel Lichtenstein has travelled the length and breadth of the estuary many times and in many vessels, from hardy tug boats to stately pleasure cruisers to an inflatable dinghy. And during these crossing she has gathered an extraordinary chorus of voices: mudlarkers and fishermen, radio pirates and champion racers, the men who risk their lives out on the water and the women who wait on the shore.
From the acclaimed author of Brick Lane and Rodinsky’s Room, Estuary is a thoughtful and intimate portrait of a profoundly British place. With a clear eye and a sharp ear, Rachel Lichtenstein captures the essence of a community and an environment, examining how each has shaped and continues to shape the other. Source here
Tide: The Science and Lore of the Greatest Force on Earth; Hugh Aldersey-Williams
2016; Viking Books
“From Cnut to D-Day: the history and science of the unceasing tide explored for the first time.
Half of the world’s population lives in coastal regions lapped by tidal waters. Yet how little most of us know about the tide.
Our ability to predict and understand the tide depends on centuries of science, from the observations of Aristotle and the theories of Newton to today’s supercomputer calculations. This story is punctuated here by notable tidal episodes in history, from Caesar’s thwarted invasion of Britain to the catastrophic flooding of Venice, and interwoven with a rich folklore that continues to inspire art and literature today.
With Aldersey-Williams as our guide to the most feared and celebrated tidal features on the planet, from the original maelstrøm in Scandinavia to the world’s highest tides in Nova Scotia to the crumbling coast of East Anglia, the importance of the tide, and the way it has shaped – and will continue to shape – our civilization, becomes startlingly clear.”
Book image is link to more info.
Tides are a “mysterious physical phenomena.”
There is something “rather curious and unaddressed about our understanding of the tides.”
Quotes from this Guardian Book Interview with the author by Patrick Barkham
On the History of Tidal Science:
Tides: A Scientific History 2000)
Dynamics of Ocean Tides; G. I. Marchuk, B. A. Kagan; 1989; Springer Books
This is a highly technical book about experimental measurements of tidal forces in the oceans. Much of it is based upon complex mathematical formulas. Measurements by satellite and tide stations are sources of data. It talks about the varying tidal patterns in the differing oceans (and the degreee to which some are still unknown). Quite a lot of the book is visible on Google Books here
A ‘common sense’ approach to understanding tides
Beyond the Moon: A Conversational, Common Sense Guide to Understanding the Tides.
“Beyond the Moon” describes how the cyclical motion of the near solar system is impressed upon the earth’s oceans, and how the hydraulics over the continental shelf and the geography of the coastline orchestrate this rhythm into the bewildering variety of tide patterns seen around the globe. This volume demystifies the complexity of the tides by systematically examining its many constituents and demonstrates that: “Nature is, at once, awesome in complexity and beautiful in simplicity.”
Source of above and more info here
Tides: Pulse of the Earth; Edward P. Clancy;1968; Doubleday
There is little or no info about, or content of, this book on the web as far as i can see.
The Tides; Christian Knowledge Society, 1857
Most of this book is online here (inc., on occasions, the hand of whoever was doing the copying!)
It is very interesting in trying to give a relatively simplified, but mathematically informed account of why ides happen. Snooker balls are a preferred analogy.
The tides in the various oceans are described, and tide and trade discussed
There is a section on The Tides of the British Seas and Tides and Rivers , and the Improvements of Tidal Rivers. (This was the Victorian age!)
On tides and life on earth
Ebb and Flow: Tides and Life on Our Once and Future Planet; Tom Koppel; 2007; Dundurn Group
“This fascinating book shows us how the understanding of tidal movement has been crucial to human existence on planet Earth. Drawing on history, science and personal memories, he demonstrates that a subject we take for granted affects all our lives. The author weaves together three grand narratives exploring how tides have affected the physical shape of the land, how they have affected human history and development, and how science has worked to understand the surprisingly complex way in which they actually work.”
Great book about UK Tidal Islands
No Boat Required: Exploring Tidal Islands; Peter Caton; 2011; Peter Caton
“When is an island not an island? Peter Caton takes us to all four corners of England, Scotland and Wales to find out. Sharing our nation’s fascination with islands, Peter sets out to be the first person to visit all 43 tidal islands which can be walked to from the UK mainland. Along the way he faces many challenges: precipitous cliffs, vicious dogs, disappearing footpaths, lost bus drivers, fast tides, quicksand and enormous quantities of mud, but also experiences wonderfully scenic journeys by road, rail and on foot. He contrasts the friendly welcome from most islanders and owners with the reluctance of others to permit visits, and tells how he was thrown off one secret island. An entertaining narrative illustrated with colour photographs, No Boat Required contains a wealth of information as the author unearths many little known facts and stories. It tells of the solitude of the many remote islands and the difficulties of balancing the needs of people and wildlife. We learn of the islands’ varied histories – stories of pirates, smugglers, murder and ghosts, of battles with Vikings, an island claimed by punks and another with its own king. He writes of the beauty of the islands and our coast, and reflects on how these may be affected by climate change. In No Boat Required Peter Caton takes us to explore islands, some familiar but most which few of us know exist and even fewer have visited. He finds that our tidal islands are special places, many with fascinating and amusing stories and each one of them different. It adds up to a unique journey around Britain.”
Very lovely photograhic essay which conisites of identical pairs of photos – one at low tide – one at high tide
Sea Change; Michael Marten; 2012; Kehrer Books
“Since 2003 Michael Marten has travelled to different parts of the British coast to photograph identical views at high and low tide, six or eighteen hours apart. His beautiful and surprising photographs reveal how landscapes can be dramatically transformed by natural phenomena such as tides. From rocky shores to summer beaches and industrial estuaries, these images record two moments in time, two states of nature and show landscape to be a dynamic process. Sea Change present 53 of these diptychs, arranged as a clockwise journey around Britain.”
Picture is link to amazon.co.uk
Tidal Life. A Natural Hostory of the Bsay of Fundy; Harry Thurston with Photographs by Stephen Homer; 1990; Camden House
“Tidal Life is the definitive natural and human history of the unique and massive Bay of Fundy. With visual reminders of the Bay’s immensity and impact. Winner of the Evelyn Richardson Award for non fiction, the Dartmouth Book Award for non-fiction and the Atlantic Provinces Booksellers Choice Award.” Amazon.com
Extract from a review by Ronnie Scullion
“It is in the hopes of protecting and preserving this vital and dynamic ecosystem that gave impetus to writing this book. Thurston shares with us his many insights into the bay’s natural wonders what accounts for the dramatic rise and fall of the tides, the largest in the world; the geological formation of the spectacular coastline; and the varied and rich life that flourishes in this unusual ecosystem from the single-celled phytoplankton to the fish, birds and mammals that populate its waters and shore.
The “people” of the bay are also introduced: the fisherman and village folk, who as their ancestors before them rely on the bay for their livelihood; and the scientists and naturalists, who are drawn to the bay because of its scientific uniqueness and inspiring beauty. By contrast he also examines the imminent dangers of exploitation of the bay’s natural resources.
Overfishing and pollution has already rendered some species of plants and animals endangered or extinct. Threats of development continue to pose a hazard.”
Between the Tides. The Perilous Beauty of Morecambe Bay; Cedric Robinson; 2007; Great Northern Books
Cedric Robinson was ‘The Queen’s Guide to the Sands’, the officical guide to how to explore this huge and potetially very dangerous place.
From a review by Jenny Laue
“Between the Tides looks at the dangers of the shifting sands, historical events and tragedies, birds, fish, people, fishing and farming, cockle picking and leisure activities taking place across the wide expanse.
The bay has many faces and Robinson has taken time to lay them bare, not just its fragile beauty but also the dangers lurking beneath the sands. In one memorable chapter, Death on the Sands, he recounts the tragic events and fatalities recorded, including the most recent which made international headlines, when, in 2004, 22 Chinese cockle pickers lost their lives in the fast-rising tide.
He looks at the lives of the fisherfolk who have worked the sands for centuries and also recalls the numerous well known figures who have crossed the bay with him, including the Duke of Edinburgh (who provided the foreword to this book), Melvyn Bragg, Bill Bryson, Harry Secombe, Judith Chalmers, Victoria Wood and many others. He shows us the wildlife that lives in this dramatic environment and discusses the apparent consequences of global warming as dolphins and salmon become a regular sight in the bay.
The book is beautifully illustrated with photographs that depict both the walk and the vast expanse of Morecambe Bay in all its amazing variety.”
Full Moon Flood Tide. Bill Proctor’s Raincoast; Bill Proctor and Yvonne Maximchuk; 2003 & 7; Harbour Publishing
“The big flood tide that accompanies the full moon is a pivotal event for those who make a living from the sea. Salmon returning to their natal rivers and streams always come in on the full moon tide, so this is the best time for fishing. And since the full moon ebb tide retreats farther than usual, it’s also the best time to gather shellfish.
Bill Proctor has lived and worked by the full moon flood tides for all his life. A natural storyteller, he points the way to hidden waterfalls and abandoned Native village sites, knows the best coves for shelter in a sou’easter and shares the compelling and often funny stories of the Natives and settlers who loved this place. People like Fritz Salem, who made the best moonshine on the coast; Joe Jack, who knew the secrets of fishing for spring salmon in winter; and Dad McKay, who lived on eggs and bannock in a hollow cedar stump. Some of Proctor’s stories will raise goosebumps around a campfire–like the sad fate of the Maid of Orleans, a former slave ship, or strange encounters with a giant sleeper shark and the ghost of Kingcome Inlet.
Full Moon, Flood Tide is no conventional cruising guide, but an indispensable companion for travellers around northern Vancouver Island, Fife Sound, Wells Passage, Blackfish Sound and Tribune Channel. Maps illustrate the places Proctor describes, in an order suitable for visiting by boat. Brimming with coastal lore and sprinkled liberally with Yvonne Maximchuk’s line drawings, this fascinating volume pays tribute to pioneers who wrested a livelihood from forest and sea even as it makes a passionate plea to preserve the wilderness.” Source
This is a set of stories and personal reminiscences about sailing – but as the sailing is often on the tidal Maine coast, the tides are a key feature of the book.
Spring Tides; Samuel Elliot Morison; 1965; Houghton Mifflin Company
“The sea belongs to all of us.” (viii)
“Spring tides are beloved by all who live by or from the sea.” (2)
Tidal Thames: History of a River and Its Fishes; Alwyne Wheeler; 1979; Routledge & Kegan Paul Books
This is all about the aquatic life of the tidal Thames. For once it is quite an encouraging story.
“much of the [tidal] river was until quite recently lifeless as a result of gross pollution, and is now  inhabited by a rich fauna of invertebrates and fishes.”
There are chapters on this recovery and on ‘migratory and estuarine fishes’ – with lovely illustrations
The Intertidal Wilderness: A Photographic Journey Through Pacific Coast Tidepools; Anne W Wertheim; 2002; University of California Press
“The Intertidal Wilderness is a stunning photographic exploration of the tidepools of the Pacific coast, from Baja California to as far north as southeast Alaska. These lush photographs capture in striking color the enormous variety of life and biological detail in the intertidal zone along one of the world’s most spectacular coastlines. The interpretative text and captions describe telltale signs of ecological relationships and processes, helping the seashore explorer to appreciate ecological interactions and their consequences. The text delves into the roles of competition, predation, reproduction, natural variation in space and time, and color that characterize this vibrant ecosystem. This revised edition has been updated throughout, incorporating new scientific information, new photographs, and a new chapter discussing the recent human impact on this threatened environment. Fusing art and science, The Intertidal Wilderness conveys the fragility, complexity, and interdependence of the plants and animals living at the interface of land and sea. The Intertidal Wilderness vividly animates the surprisingly delicate beauty of the often violent intertidal zone, which daily withstands pounding waves at high tides as well as desiccation and exposure at low tides. With revealing photographs, engaging text, and a solid foundation in marine biology, this book will capture the imagination of the casual seashore visitor as well as the dedicated enthusiast.” Souce and more info here.
Strands: A Year of Discoveries on the Beach; Jean Sprackland; 2012; Jonathan Cape
“This is the ultimate beachcomber’s book. A series of meditations prompted by walking on the wild estuarial beaches of Ainsdale Sands between Blackpool and Liverpool, Strands is about what is lost and buried then discovered, about all the things you find on a beach, dead or alive, about flotsam and jetsam, about mutability and transformation – about sea-change.
Every so often the sands shift enough to reveal great mysteries: the Star of Hope, wrecked on Mad Wharf in 1883 and usually just visible as a few wooden stumps, is suddenly raised one day, up from the depths – an entire wreck, black and barnacled, and on either side two more ruined ships, taking the air for a while before sinking back under the sand.
And stranger still, perhaps, are the prehistoric footprints of humans, animals and birds on the beach: prints from the Late Mesolithic to mid-Neolithic period which are described as ‘ephemeral archaeology’ because they are preserved in the Holocene sediment, revealed briefly and then destroyed by the next tide.
Strands describes a year’s worth of walking on the ultimate beach: inter-tidal and constantly turning up revelations: mermaid’s purses, lugworms, sea potatoes, messages in bottles, buried cars, beached whales and a perfect cup from a Cunard liner. Jean Sprackland, a prize-winning poet and natural storyteller, is the perfect guide to these shifting sands – this place of transformation.” Source and more info here.
Review of book here
TideLine; Edward Seago;1948; Collins
This is a sort of memoir by the painter Edward Seago. According to Rockethouse (small production company founded by Matt Thompson)
Seago “loved the sea and the sky and where the two met the land. He lived and painted mainly in East Anglia but also travelled to Singapore, Africa and, with the Duke of Edinburgh, Antarctica. His shows were so popular that the public would queue around the block. But he was not admired by art critics. He was a post-impressionist at a time when the fashion was for cubism, abstract expressionism, and all the other -isms. Seago was left in the dust, or in his case in the sands and mud of Norfolk. The tide goes out but eventually it comes in again and his art is still much loved and admired.
Over the years I returned again and again to Tideline to smell the sea air of estuarine places and to reacquaint myself with characters such as Mrs Chubbs and her garden or ‘Scientific’ who lived in a eel hut on the reed beds of the Norfolk Broads.” Source
Soundings from the Estuary; Frank Watson; 2014; Thames Estuary. Hush House Publishers
A book from a project of the same name.
“The Soundings From the Estuary project, like its predecessor The Hush House: Cold War Sites In England observes the way specific English landscapes evolve, shaped by political, socio-economic and environmental conditions. The photographs in this book reflect a series of walks taken along the Thames Estuary, occurring in all seasons and at sporadic times over a seven-year period. Much of the Estuary is perceived as a brown field site lacking the traditional attributes of the picturesque. Prominent features include landfill sites, prisons, oil refineries and industrial debris left scattered along the river’s foreshore, amongst which also lie industrial and military ruins. Yet despite its blighted public image, the Thames estuary does have a sense of place, albeit one that is dependent on the importance of the river itself and its relation to the history of the growth of London as a city. However, this scenario conflicts with predictions of rising sea levels from global warming that would subject much of the low lying marshland of the area to flooding. The Thames Estuary is a contested landscape, with both naturalists and environmentalists seeking to preserve the existing terrain from the threats posed to its future.” Source and more info here.
Estuary; Lydia Fulleylove (Author) Colin Riches (Illustrator); 2014; Two Raven Press
“Estuary was inspired by the River Yar Estuary in the west of the Isle of Wight. The owners have preserved the estuary in its natural state for 40 years, treating the tidal area as a wild life sanctuary and running the mixed farm as a sustainable operation. Working with artist Colin Riches, Lydia s text responds to the changing activities on the farm and the transformation of the landscape through the seasons, over the period of one year. Both words and visual images are connected by the central notion which crosses the art forms: the act of paying attention. The work conveys the immediacy of being present and reflects this quality of observation, so that the reader or viewer might come close to their experience of place. The marks made with ink, twigs, moss or fingers, earth or words are a sign of having been there, evoking the relationship with place at that moment. The work becomes a dialogue between author, artist and place, and gradually evolves to attempt to map inner as well as outer landscapes. The text has three elements: diary observations, poem meditations and voices of those who work the land.” Source
Publisher’s info – reviews and extracts here
Servern Tide (1947) and The Bristol Channel (1955); Brian Waters; Dent publishers
Books 2 and 3 of Waters triloogy of books about the River Severn The fisrt book is called Servern Stream)
These are classic mid 20th century regional topgographic studies of place which focused on geography, history, and local charater(s)
If you click on the images they should enlarge – allowing you to read the dust jacket summary
The Firth of Forth: An Environmental History; Christopher Smout and Mairi Stewart 2012; Birlinn
This is a very interesting looking account of the environmental history of the Firth of Forth. Inevitably the tides crop in throughout the book in relation to habitiat, polluntion, land reclaimation and various other issues
This is the Amazon desrciption
The Firth of Forth combines a rich wildlife with a history of long and intense human activity around its shores and in its waters. At one time, herring, cod and haddock, with many other edible fish, were vastly more numerous, but seals and seabirds much rarer than they are now. Once, the rivers running into the Firth were so polluted that people could set fire to some of the burns; now the water is often as pure as it has ever been since records began. Illustrated with black-and-white and colour photographs, this is a capitivating exploration into the life of the Firth of Forth which considers a wide range of questions. How have people affected and exploited the wildlife, and how in turn has it determined the lives of people? What changes to the biodiversity of the Firth have taken place as a result of human interference? Why has pollution been easier to control than over-fishing? What were the unintended consequences to the natural heritage both of pollution and of cleaning-up, and what role has conservation had in bringing about changes?
There is a comprehensive review by Dr Michael Penman, University of Stirling, here
The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod; Henry Beston; 2003; Owl Books (first publiahed in 1928)
Altough centrally focused on the beauty of darkness in landscape this book is full of tidal rhythms, and the sea more generally. This is, by all accounts, a ‘classic’ so glad to have found it.
“This is an immensely enchanting read in its entirety, uncovering and recovering the civilization-shrouded shimmer of such beautiful phenomena as birds, the beach, midwinter, and high tide.”
Here are a few quotes from Amazon Reviews
“The passage of time is not recorded with the clock, but with the rhythms the sea, the cycles of the moon, and the changing seasons.”
“Rachel Carson once described The Outermost House as the sole influence on her writing, and Henry Beston’s account of a solitary year by the sea has the same combination of natural science and poetry.”
“When you start reading THE OUTERMOST HOUSE, you soon find yourself in a world of waves and tides, weathers and seasons.”
Here is a sample – page 5
Pilot Cutters Under Sail: Pilots and Pilotage in Britain and Northern Europe; Tom Cunliffe; 2013; Seaforth Publishing
Click here to go to it on Amazon where you can “Search Inside”
“The pilot cutters that operated around the coasts of northern Europe until the First World War were amongst the most seaworthy and beautiful craft of their size ever built, while the small number that have survived have inspired yacht designers, sailors and traditional craft enthusiasts over the last hundred years. Even in their day they possessed a charisma unlike any other working craft; their speed and close-windedness, their strength and seaworthiness, fused together into a hull and rig of particular elegance, all to guide the mariner through the rough and tortuous waters of the European seaboard, bought them an enviable reputation. This new book is both a tribute to and a minutely researched history of these remarkable vessels. The author, perhaps the most experienced sailor of the type, describes the ships themselves, their masters and crews, and the skills they needed for the competitive and dangerous work of pilotage. He explains the differences between the craft of disparate coasts – of the Scilly Isles and the Bristol Channel, of northern France, and the wild coastline of Norway – and weaves into the history of their development the stories of the men who sailed them. Written to complement the recent histories of pilot schooners and open boat pilotage, edited and written by the author, this book will be an essential addition to the libraries of historians and enthusiasts of traditional boats.”