The sea foam piles up on the edge of the Gorge Waterway next to the Gorge Pointe dock as the tide rolls out on Sunday morning. The foam resembles ice flows at a glance, but is generated by the rapid movement of water under the Tillicum Gorge Bridge. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Natural phenomenon in Esquimalt-Saanich prompts closer look

Tide change foam on Gorge Waterway resembles chunks of ice flowing down a river

For those who live near the Tillicum Gorge Bridge it’s a regular sight.

But infrequent passersby may do a double take glancing out at the Gorge Waterway when the tide is changing. The regular movement of water under the bridge, which intensifies during the tide change from high to low, creates an inordinate amount of sea foam. The clumps of bubbles resemble chunks of ice flowing down the waterway, travelling some distance before breaking up.

At one dock, connected to the waterfront behind the Gorge Pointe residences on Tillicum Road, the foam gathers at such a rate that it looks much like the snow dumped by a Zamboni machine behind a hockey arena.

On Sunday morning, a diver was scouring the sea bed closer to the Saanich side of the waterway. Asked what he was looking for, he said old bottles, which may have been left behind after swimming and boating regattas held on the Gorge in days gone by.

To learn more about the Gorge Waterway, visit


A diver (lower right) works the edges of the Gorge Waterway looking for interesting objects, as the water flows outward to the sea under the Gorge Tillicum Bridge during tide change. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

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