Water washes over the Durban beach promenade walls earlier in 2017. Picture: Rescue Care

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has urged the public to be cautious around the coastline during this weekend’s Full Moon Spring Tide that peaks on Sunday, July 9.

“From now and until towards the end of next week expect higher than normal high tide and lower than normal low tide - brought on by the Full Moon Spring Tide - to cause stronger than normal rip currents and higher tides engulfing higher along the shoreline,” the institute said in a statement.

It said rip currents were the greatest cause of drowning accidents along the South African coast. Bathers, shoreline hikers and sightseers and anglers were most at risk and extreme caution was advised.

Earlier this year, Durbanites were astounded when the tide surged, with waves washing well over the promenade walls, sparking days of cleaning and mop up operations, while videos of the surging tide went viral on social media.

Spring Tides happens twice every month, at full moon and at new moon.

They last for a few days leading up to the full or new moon, peak on the day of the full or new moon, and last for a few days after the full or the new moon, said the NSRI.

Rip currents are caused when the water reaching the shoreline in waves, swells and sea currents needs to find a way to retreat back into the sea and this is achieved in rip currents (a river of water retreating through the incoming swells back out into the sea).

Advice for bathers caught in a rip current:
Do not panic. Stay afloat by treading water (moving your arms and legs in circular movements), don’t try to swim against the current as it will only exhaust you. Let the current sweep you out to sea, but at your first opportunity swim parallel to the beach front until you are free of the rip current and then use the incoming waves to get back to shore. - Info NSRI

** The institute urges boaters and paddlers to download the free NSRI RSA SafeTrx app to their phone and use the app for safety when launching and while at sea.