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What makes surf waves? micro-lesson

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So, what turns open ocean waves into surf waves? Surf waves actually start their journey out in the open ocean. They only become waves when they get close to land. So, what happens to these waves as they get close to land? The answer is pretty easy. The waves hitting against the sea floor is actually what makes the waves we surf. There are a couple of different types of breaks. Today, I'll talk about reef breaks. This is when waves travel over shallow reefs. Reef breaks are usually between 1 and 2 meters. When waves hit these shallow reefs, this pushes the waves up. This makes the wave break which is the part that we surf. This is a satellite image of a reef break. Do you see how the reef actually forms a nice straight line? It's the straight line that actually gives the wave a nice shape. This is a video of the same wave from the satellite picture. Notice how nice and evenly the wave breaks. Some reefs go from really, really deep to really, really shallow very quickly. This results in something called a barreling wave. So, to recap, open ocean waves hitting shallow reef can make for some great surf waves.

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  • How deep are reef breaks usually?

    1) 1-2 meters
    2) Around 10 meters
    3) 5 meters
    4) 8 meters
  • In the video what type of shape do good reef breaks usually have?

    1) Line (straight line)
    2) Irregular
    3) Circular
    4) Wavy
  • What kind of wave is created when deep ocean waves hit very shallow reefs very quickly?

    1) Barreling wave
    2) Rolling wave
    3) Sine wave
    4) Tidal wave
  • The breaks talked about in this video are?

    1) Reef breaks
    2) Tsunami breaks
    3) Beach breaks
    4) River breaks
  • Surf waves are created when open ocean (or sea) waves hit the shallow ocean (or sea) floor

    1) Yes
    2) No
  • Really long straight reefs can make really long waves to surf?

    1) Yes
    2) No
  • Short reefs make really short waves to surf?

    1) Yes
    2) No

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Meet your educator

Our micro-courses are developed and delivered by qualified educators from around the world.

Sarah Sanchez Medrano

Sarah Sanchez Medrano

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