There are parts of the world where these things have killed hundreds of people. They have names like “The Seven Ghosts” and “The Silver Dragon”. People come from all over the planet to see if they can tame these “beasts.” And yet, few have heard of them. I’m talking about “bores”—more specifically, “tidal bores.”
A tidal bore is a special case of a tidal wave, the term for any wave caused by the gravitational effects of the sun and the moon on the ocean. The most common type are the waves that come with the high and low tide on beaches. These waves are typically small and occur every day along coasts. But occasionally, if the conditions are right, tidal effects can cause a massive wave to flow up a river. This specific type of tidal wave is called a tidal bore.
Tidal bores begin where the river meets the ocean. During the high tide, the height of the ocean swells up causing a difference in water height between the two bodies of water. This sends a wall of water up the river, against the current, forming a wave. These waves can peak at heights of over 30 feet and travel as far as 32 miles at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.
Unfortunately for surfers, tidal bores occur in less than 50 rivers in the world, and typically happen just once a year. Some of the most popular river bores are “The Bono” in Indonesia’s Kampar River, “The Silver Dragon” in China’s Qiantang River, and “The Severn Bore” in United Kingdom’s Severn River. These particular rivers empower some of the biggest and baddest waves, and of course, surfers can’t resist.
The world record for longest continuous ride on a tidal bore was set by surfer Steve King, who rode on the Severn Bore for 1 hour and 16 minutes as he traveled 7 miles up the river.
The unique conditions that create tidal bores can give them other peculiarities, such as cool wavy patterns…
…and make them display some incredible power:
However, these waves are not all fun and games. Bores are known to kill lots of creatures living in and around the river water, attracting carnivores and scavengers in the aftermath to eat up the carcasses. Humans have also died, ambitious surfers and curious bystanders alike. Small ships anchored in a river have been destroyed as well.
I find it surprising that so many people have never heard of such an incredible natural phenomenon. If you google “tidal bore”, you’ll only get about 500,000 hits. To put that into perspective, a google search of “watching paint dry,” which is objectively more boring than tidal bores, gives you just under 18 million. I think this is absolutely unacceptable, which is why I want to start a worldwide campaign to #UncageTheBore. Tell everyone you know about it: your friends, your mom, all the baristas at your favorite Starbucks… and maybe one day, we can get tidal bores the recognition they deserve!