Tourists may come to the Isle of Rhe for its world-class beaches and amazing weather, but the state of the waves is totally unique here. For a casual observe from a hilltop view, the waves appear to be shaped in organized squares or boxes. They repeat indefinitely like a checkerboard. Because the sight is so unusual, people – including locals and world travelers – come to witness the amazing waves. And one of the best places to see the natural phenomena occur is from atop the lighthouse along the shore.
Although some people think the square waves are a result of aliens or some other ungodly thing, science easily explains their cause.
The Isle of Rhe is placed at the precise intersection of two seas. This is often called a cross sea. Miles under the surface, the seas engage in a ferocious battle. Differing currents and weather patterns smash into each other. In effect, they cancel each other out and send waves traveling at right angles along the surface.
In surface navigation, a cross sea is a sea state with two wave systems traveling at oblique angles.
Waves generated by the new wind run at an angle to the old, creating a shifting, dangerous pattern.
Until the older waves have dissipated, they create a sea hazard among the most perilous.
This phenomenon may be dangerous (boats are meant to hit waves head on, not from all sides), but at the same time it’s also one of the most beautiful naturally occurring shapes. I could stare at that first photo for hours!