Zig Zag

Does anyone know what causes this strange zig-zag pattern on the sea? Definitely not reefs and hardly any wind to mention. I have never seen this before. Very pretty though.

Edit: Thanks to the clever research of Canadian Sue Slaght this phenomenon could be Langmuir circulation. Thanks Sue!

Other phenomena that have been easy to see on these glassy seas are the parallel lines of Langmuir circulation. They resemble corresponding paths of dark and light lines on the ocean’s surface that linger up and down the coastline. They can be easily seen from a boat or the shoreline.


40 Comments Add yours

  1. Dina says:

    We have no idea and yes, it looks very pretty in your lovely capture. Siri and Selma are off to ask their friends, the mermaids. They could be involved in this. If a cooling wind passes by at yours today, could you please pass it on to us in Bonn. 35° ☀️☀️☀️ no fun at all, phew.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Yikes that is warm. Not much of a cooling breeze here today, but I shall blow hard and hopefully send some sea breezes your way. Hopefully you have air con at work.

      1. Dina says:

        Please try harder … 😉

      2. restlessjo says:

        Stop bragging! We’re back to cool and windy 😦 Ok for drying towels though 🙂

  2. beetleypete says:

    I’m not ‘nautical’ enough to have an explanation, but I like the photo!
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Heyjude says:

      Yes, quite unusual. I have seen this bay many times but never noticed any patterns on the surface before.

      1. beetleypete says:

        I would presume it is currents near the surface, but not sure at all.

        1. Heyjude says:

          Seems most likely.

  3. I can’t help either. Perhaps undertow?

    1. Heyjude says:

      Maybe, that was my initial thought.

  4. Sue says:

    No idea…plankton??

    1. Heyjude says:

      I did wonder if it is simply the currents.

      1. Sue says:

        I’m sure it is!

    2. Heyjude says:

      See the other Sue’s article. Seems like you could be right about plankton after all!

      1. Sue says:

        Which article? And are you meaning our Canadian friend, Jude?

        1. Heyjude says:

          I am indeed – she has a link in her comment to an article about this phenomenon.

        2. Sue says:

          Oh, right, I’ll check it out!

        3. Sue says:

          Right! This is making me think I must have read something about plankton in the past, and a fragment remained tethered to my memory!!

        4. Heyjude says:

          Or one of those Planet programmes!

        5. Sue says:

          We-ell, I don’t tend to watch them! Here’s an image I took many years about on Crete, the third in this post : https://suejudd.com/2013/09/07/cees-fun-photo-challenge-all-one-colour/

        6. Heyjude says:

          Lovely image.

        7. Sue says:

          I still remember setting out that morning….

        8. Heyjude says:

          Good memories.

        9. Sue says:


  5. Sue says:

    Bad luck with 35C,..28 here is bad enough…..

  6. restlessjo says:

    I thought sea fairies, but then I thought that I must mean mermaids. I think I’ll just shut up. 🙂 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Siri and Selma agree with you – about the mermaids – not shutting up!

  7. Sue Slaght says:

    Jude here is an article i found that may be the answer. I certainly didn’t know this just a bit of research. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/weather/weather-watch/article39495318.html

    1. Heyjude says:

      That sounds like it! Well done you for discovering this article. And it seems the other Sue was right about plankton. Thanks Sue 🙂

      1. Sue Slaght says:

        Happy to help. Google and I are good friends. 🙂

        1. Heyjude says:

          You obviously knew which keyword to use!

  8. Lynn says:

    Sue beat me to looking it up! Makes for lovely photos!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Ah, she’s a clever lass.

      1. Lynn says:

        Isn’t she though!

        1. Heyjude says:

          And thoughtful 🙂

  9. Chillbrook says:

    Beautiful! What I would give to be on that boat Jude.. 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Even I might manage a boat in that stillness, though actually I did once suffer seasickness on a yacht when it was too calm to use the sail.

  10. Lucid Gypsy says:

    The blogosphere can usually give the answer!

  11. I want to know what Sue used for her search. I’m hopeless at search terms. I was going to ask my son, but I don’t need to remember now. A lovely photo of subtle zigzag.

  12. J > Currents. Very complicated to explain. Helps is you understand the technical concept shear.

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