Phenomena

The Naruto Whirlpools

The Naruto whirlpools seen by helicopter.

Enormous whirlpools are not simply the work of overactive imaginations. There are several spots in the world, including Japan’s Naruto Strait, that regularly see these spectacular vortices.

Naruto’s whirlpools are formed through the interaction of tidal currents with the local topography. Spring tides funneled through the vee-shaped strait can reach speeds of 20 kph as they rush between the Pacific Ocean and the Inland Sea. Below the surface, there’s also a deep depression that helps bring the tides together in such a way that it generates vortices 20 meters in diameter.

In normal times, the whirlpools are a significant tourist attraction during the springtime. Travelers can view them from tour boats, helicopters, and from the Onaruto Bridge. (Image credits: whirlpools – Mainichi/N. Yamada, Discover Tokushima; artwork: Hiroshige; via Mainichi; submitted by Alan M.)

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