What is The Sea?

This is the third of Fred’s Think Pieces, or at least the third of those he had started that is easiest to finish on his behalf.

I realise that most piggies will never encounter the Sea.  This is a shame as our name in other languages is closely related to our history as ship pigs.  ‘Little Sea Pigs’ is what the term translates as in Dutch and in German and a few other languages as well.  The Guinea in guinea pig refers to a country on the north coast of South America, and other languages, like French, call us Pigs of the Indies, meaning the West Indies.  History books tell us that sailors brought us back to England as pets.

So even if you never see the Sea you should know a little bit about it, and give some Thought to its true nature.

George and I have been lucky enough to travel on the Sea four times (twice in each direction).  We have also seen the Sea from our cottage on Mull as well as from the beaches around Norfolk.  It is a large flat plane stretching into the distance, and it changes colour with the light and with the weather.  It is made of water and if you are on a boat, it wobbles up and down on it.  You can think of this as the boat swimming in the bath.  If you have enough water in your bath, you can swim in it and you have your feet off the bottom, paddling, and your nose stretched out ahead of you keeping the water out of your nose, and the water sort of comes up to near the top of your bottom but your back stays dry.  The boat is like this but more of its back is above the waterline.  I’m not sure whether the boat wobbles because it is swimming or because the water is wobbling about a bit.  Possibly both.

The strange thing about the sea is that it frays at the edges.  If you see it where it joins the land it moves back and forwards and breaks into foamy bits that are called waves.  They fray all over the beach or the rocks, depending on what the land is that is is joining.  Now I have had the opportunity to observe the river that runs by our house and it doesn’t do this.  It breaks into foamy bits a little when it goes over the ridge of rocks in it, but these foamy bits join up and run off again.  The river never frays at the edges.  So there is something very different about the Sea.

Something that can be observed about the sea is the way it sometimes comes high up the beach and sometimes stays low down.  It goes up the beach and down the beach at least twice a day.  George pointed out that it comes very high up the beach the same number of days after a full moon each month.  But it also comes high up the beach the same number of days after a new moon, which is when you can’t see the moon at all. (Please refer to the Think Piece about the Moon).  I have been Thinking about this and also referring to some of the reference material that has been pointed out, and the best explanation seems to be that the sea responds to the pull of the moon as it sloshes around the world.  If there were no countries in the way, the sea would always be high in the direction of the moon.  But as there are countries that get in its way it sloshes back and forth like it is in an enormous bath, the sides of which are the countries that surround the particular sea.  And it sloshes higher up the beach when the moon has pulled it towards itself when it is full than when it is at a different angle.  It just suffers from a bit of delayed reaction.

If you live near the Sea, please would you help us with some further observations on the height of your sea and the number of days past full moon when it is highest.  Also can you make a note of how many times a day it is high and low.  Thank you.