We all have developed our favorite ways of predicting the tide over the years but honestly, in all the time we have been shrimping, none of the ways have ever been as cool, fun or advanced as they are now.
The giant in the room as of late has of course been Google Earth. In case you haven't used it, Google Earth provides virtually any geographic information you want to know. Considering that more than half of the Earth is covered by water, it is no shock that several developers are creating applications for the ocean.
Google Earth permits various data to be added to the basic Google Earth application by the addition of "layers" which, as they sound, add data to the program in layers that can be turned on or off and filtered based on your needs.
Want to see real-time weather overlayed on the globe? You can do it. Sea surface temperatures? Check. Want to see the contours of the seafloor? As of February, 2009, you can! Having a hard time finding a shrimping site? Use Google Street View to walk down the street and find the perfect spot to park or access the water. Need to find a place to drop your boat in the water? Some enterprising developer mapped every public boat ramp in the State of Florida to help you out. Of course, tides are also one of the many features you can use in Google Earth.
Using the XTide database that powers mosts of the tide predictors on this page, this Google Earth layer takes the harbor and ocean tide measuring markers that are in the database and marks them as points on the planet. You can pick the point and see the tide at that location within a three day range. It launches an internet browser to show you the data.
If you have access to a computer where you can install Google Earth, it is worth every bit of your time to do so. The only requirements are a high speed connection and a fairly modern computer. If you've never used it, you will be amazed.
Rod and Reel Tidesprovides tide charts for US Gulf Coast states based on tide reporting station information in daily, weekly or monthly formats. The initial interface is a bit difficult to use because it isn't very easy to scroll through the list of tide stations but the results are worth the effort. Tide charts incorporate easy to read tabular data on high & low tides and provide moon phase information along with an inshore fishing forecast. The graph that is displayed is also colorful and useful. If you like to print your tide charts, it offers a printable version for portability. Our founder and inventor, Don Kelly prefers this tide chart the best.
For those of you who are tech junkies, the tide calculator hosted by the University of South Carolina will suit your need for data. This tidechart generator is a bit complicated to use but with its complexity comes a lot of customization. Tides can be predicted into the future, allowing you to plan shrimping or fishing expeditions months in advance. The times frames can be customized from a single day to several month times frame.
As far as visual appearance, the tide charts can be colored to taste and provide information such as moon phase, sunrise, sunset, mean low water, dates, location, and can even print out a tabular chat if that is your thing. Tide charts can be generated for an unbelievably large range of US locations on all coasts and Japan. Not surprisingly, there are dozens of sites in Florida alone.
This tide chart generator is one of the more popular generators in the industry, and the engine that powers it (XTide) is used in numerous software applications. Ozello Shrimper uses this tide chart generator to create the charts used in the tide and shrimping predictions used on this site. As a web designer, I prefer something that is customizable. I also like applications that talk to each other and this one does both.
Windows XTide32 is a program that you can install and run on your computer. It is an improved version of the original XTide engine that is used in the University of South Carolina tide predictor. It has been a solid mainstay for shrimpers across the East Coast and provides desktop access to a solid tide predictor.
This tide chart generator provides a high level of data in a generic and easy to read format. It also comes with some other add-ons if you are interested. These are literally "bells and whistles."
Tide Tool is designed for Palm Pilot handheld computers, HandSpring or other devices operating the PalmOS. It was originally designed for people who use Palm Pilot hand held computers. If you fit this category, feel free to use it although it might be time to consider a newer handheld device.
The software was last updated in 2007 and provides over 7000 locations in the U.S., Great Britain, Norway, Japan, Canada, Alaska, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, Australia and Germany and is available in both English and French. It provides tabular or graphical data and limited moon and solar data.
Like many of the applications on this page, the data that populates this software originates in the XTide 2.6 database.
JTides is a Java based tide generator that will work on Windows, Linux, Apple OS X and other platforms. The specific installation file attached to this post is for Windows but if you go to the designers web page at the bottom of the page, you will be able to download the version for Apple OS X and Linux etc.
This software lets you run multiple tide predictions in the tabs at the bottom and shows the daylight and night time hours. Advanced printing functionality allows you to print tide charts to carry into the field or export them to HTML web pages for use on a portable device or your own website.
cTide is the same thing as the WinTide32 software but it is meant for Pocket PC's or those devices operating Windows CE. If you have a PocketPC devive, you can computer the tide while you are out shrimping!
This software is great but it hasn't been updated since 2003. This is not to say that it is not a good tool but that it is getting a bit old. Whether or not is is compatible with newer devices is hard to say without first hand experience. For more information, check out the creator's web site.
The NOAA Tides and Currents Web Page / tide chart generator is brought to us by WizFisher. In our 2008 post on tides near Bunce's Pass, he reminded us that graphs are nice but don't always suit everyone. Sometimes, just the facts will do.
You can choose a variety of locations across the United States using the menu on the left hand side. What you get is a bare bones, no frills, tide prediction. No fancy graphs, no pictures, no bells and whistles. If you don't want the fluff and want just the facts, this is your tide chart generator: