Cargo Ships Are Causing "Tsunami-Type" Waves Along a Georgia Beach

The disruption in the water can be dangerous for beachgoers.

The perfect beach town filled with century-old lighthouses and charming cottages, has one small flaw—mini-tsunamis.

The idyllic North Beach of Tybee Island, Georgia normally has placid waters perfect for splashing with the kids and beautiful beaches meant for building sandcastles or hunting for seashells. Then, every so often a massive wave comes through, crashing on the beach that can be very perilous.

Tybee Island sunset
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The culprit, it turns out, isn't Mother Nature, but boats. "The big ships that are coming in the channel," Mayor Shirley Sessions told NBC News. "Sometimes they come in they create a tsunami-type wave that can be extremely dangerous." Now, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers have been asked to help get to the bottom of what causes these tiny tidal waves. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers are also looking at the ships' impact on beach erosion.

The group has called in researchers and oceanographers to study the phenomenon. They have set up sensors to "measure the water level, the tides, the wave". They are also keeping track of the type and weight of the boats sweeping through the channel causing the monster waves.

"We're taking that information and we're looking for patterns or correlations to indicate what combination of vessel operations and environmental conditions lead to these type of wakes," research oceanographer Richard Styles told NBC.

The hope is that the more they know about the cause of the waves, the safer North Beach will be in the future and Tybee Island can continue to be one of the South's Best Beaches.

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In the meantime, lifeguard Todd Horne told WYFF, "We look at certain apps and try to get there, at least send out a guard to that north end to where we can warn everyone along the shoreline about the tide from the ships."

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