A famous Hawaiian, Duke Kahanamoku, helped popularize the motto, “Never turn your back on the ocean.” His reasons were twofold: he wanted people to watch out for the physical dangers of being hit by a wave, and he wanted mankind to show respect for the ocean. It’s also a motto that experienced shore divers live by, and important for anyone visiting the shore.

Steve Raplee, the owner of the High Tide Cafe in Coos Bay, recorded a video that clearly demonstrates one reason why this is an important rule for everyone to follow. In this case, it was a large rogue (or sneaker) wave that washed ashore.

Uh-oh! Time to go here,” Raplee calls out as he runs from the encroaching water. “Get out of the way! Go!”

The rush of water completely swept across the beach where just moments before many people, including children and a small dog, were playing in the sand. Here’s the video:

Large sneaker waves crash regularly along the coastline, and they can be even larger and more powerful as a result of our El Niño-driven winter storms, but they’re not caused directly by El Niño or earthquakes. Rogue or sneaker waves are the result of wave accumulation and are a common occurrence worldwide. At sea, two or three waves end up in the same place at the same time, and their heights and volume increase manyfold. All that wave energy is then concentrated in one wall of water is both impressive and dangerous.

If you’re shore diving or even simply walking along the shore, remember Duke Kahanamoku’s advice and never turn your back on the ocean.

Dive safe.