How to spot a rip current:

Here is a selection of photographs to show you what rip currents look like. Think of them as rivers of water that flow out to the back waves, and remember that they will not pull you under the water. Don’t panic, swim to the side and wave for help to escape a rip.

 

Look at the sea before you go for a swim – and look for the ‘river of water’ flowing out that will show you where the rip is.

Please choose to visit a beach where lifeguards are on duty and swim between their flags. If you have not seen the NSRI six minute video on rip currents click here.

Pictures for media use are on Sea Rescue’s Flickr page. Click here.

A rip current from the air - the dark water between the waves. Picture by John Larter.

A rip current from the air – the dark water between the waves. Picture by John Larter.

The dark water with no waves is the rip.

The dark water between waves is the rip.

A rip at Natures valley shown from high. Picture by Torsten Henschel.

Rips at Natures Valley shown from high. The many channels are clearly visible as the rips pull out at low tide. Picture by Torsten Henschel.

Rips at the Wilderness - the dark water flowing out is clearly visible. Picture Liza Wigley.

Rips at the Wilderness – the dark water flowing out is clearly visible. Picture Liza Wigley.

A rip - dark water - flows parallel to the beach before flowing out to sea. Picture Torsten Henschel.

A rip – turquoise water – flows parallel to the beach before flowing out to sea. Picture Torsten Henschel.

A sign at Swartvlei beach warns of the danger of rip currents.

A sign at Swartvlei beach warns of the danger of rip currents.

 

17 Responses to “How to spot a rip current:”

  1. Jillian
    27. Dec, 2014 at 16:14 #

    Very very useful info and pics. Always known about rip currents but never knew what to look for until now. Thank you!

  2. tori anderson
    28. Dec, 2014 at 06:22 #

    Thanks NSRI for being proactive.We really appreciate your efforts and those of our lifeguards.

  3. Vallerie
    28. Dec, 2014 at 07:40 #

    Thanks so much for the information – it should be printed on pamflets and spread around or even printed in the papers very useful information

  4. Ronelle Porter
    28. Dec, 2014 at 10:31 #

    Thanks so much, I never knew what to look out for. It could perhaps be helpful to put up boards similar to the whale info at beaches where rips are know to occur, specifically as per the last picture showing how to escape. Showing my kids as soon as they wake up!

  5. joanita
    28. Dec, 2014 at 11:43 #

    Baie behulpsaam. Mense is maar onkundig as dit by strome kom.

  6. Fanus Dreyer
    28. Dec, 2014 at 22:01 #

    Are those two big babies waiting for whatever the rip brings out to them to eat on the 1st picture?

    • andrew
      29. Dec, 2014 at 07:25 #

      Sharks do not swim together Fanus. They are most likely to be dolphins.

    • mandy
      14. Jan, 2015 at 21:13 #

      I was thinking the same thing – thought they were whales, actually!

  7. Marie Potgieter
    28. Dec, 2014 at 22:13 #

    Vir die onkundige is dit baie moeilik om dit te eien. Baie dankie vir hierdie inligting.

  8. Imraan Morgan
    28. Dec, 2014 at 22:21 #

    Thank You for this…People should be aware of this..more so over this festive period..Please be safe wherever you are.

  9. Delphine du Toit
    29. Dec, 2014 at 04:00 #

    Got out of a rip current years ago on Look-out beach at Plettenberg Bay. No point in fighting it, but calm and patient swimming with it, but at a diagonal angle, gradually works your way to the edge of it and out, then back to the beach.

  10. Richard Booysen
    01. Jan, 2015 at 23:26 #

    Those dark channels is what the fishermen look for, The edge of those rips provide the best fishing spots

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