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The roughly twice-daily ocean tides ebb and flow on different timescales and to different heights depending on the relative orientations of the Sun and Moon. It is the gravitational pull of these the two bodies that are responsible for our tides, a fact first explained by Isaac Newton. When the Moon is full (and again when it is new), it, the Earth and the Sun are nearly aligned – a situation know as syzygy (one of my favorite words). In this orientation, the tidals forces combine to amplify the tidal surge; we have a spring tide. Throw in some big surf and an unusually close Moon, and you’ve got quite a shorebreak.