The “pull” of the water that you feel as you stand in the shallows near the shoreline is just moving water rubbing against your skin. So, why is the water moving out to sea near the beach? Several different forces push – or pull – an excess of water up onto the beach, and then it must run back downhill to where it comes to rest at sea level. The flood tides lift water up over the elevated beach and then it ebbs back down and out to sea (the force is lunar gravitation, lifting the water up). Storms beyond the horizon set the water oscillating up and down, sending long waves called “swells” up onto the beach (the force is high barometric pressure pushing the water down, or low barometric pressure pulling the water up). Shorter, choppy waves are pushed toward the beach by the wind (the force is moving air , with friction on the ocean surface moving the water). These swells and waves turn into “breakers” as they reach
the shallows. The push water up onto the sand, and as it runs back downhill to rejoin the great ocean basin, you feels it pulling you out to sea.
This post was answered Dr. J.G. McCully, author of Beyond the Moon: A Conversational, Common Sense Guide to Understanding the Tides.
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