by Diane Wyse, Physical Oceanography Lab
One sunny afternoon at the beach in Moss Landing, beachgoers were treated to a tangy surprise. Dr. Erika McPhee-Shaw’s Physical Oceanography class made the most of the beautiful weather and nearby beach to observe the effects of alongshore transport in the surf zone.
From the shore, students observed the waves breaking and made predictions about the direction of alongshore transport and where convergent rip currents would occur.
How did they test these predictions? Why, launching citrus into the surf zone, of course! Members of the class warmed up their pitching arms and threw oranges into the water from the beach. They observed and discussed where the oranges traveled as a means of visualizing transport of sediment and plankton with the movement of water in the near-shore environment.