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Saturday, October 31, 2015

On Top of the Ocean

From Public Radio International comes the amazing story of surfing at Praia do Norte in Nazare, Portugal. Nazare means Nazareth, and the North Beach of this town near the capital Lisbon experiences unusually large waves that attract the world's most expert surfers.

As explained in the radio story about surfing at Nazare this week, canyons in the continental shelf near Nazare are long and deep, and when currents push through them in just the right way, enormous swells result.

This is not a tsunami, however. It is a recurring wave in a very specific area, rather than a single wave over a very broad area that would come ashore in a dangerous way.

The jet-ski operator in the video above shows just as much skill as the surfer. Jet skis are necessary, because no surfer can swim out through such enormous, fast-moving breakers.

As with people with a strong interest in any subject, some surfers have developed a keen interest in the geography of their sport. For this reason, one of the most detailed explanations of the geography of the Nazare Swell comes from thousands of miles away, on the blog of a surf shop in San Clemente, California.

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