This natural phenomenon occurs after extremely powerful storms.
Hurricane Irma is so powerful, it sucked the ocean away from beaches in the Bahamas on Friday.
Twitter user @Piznack, one of multiple people to share videos of the strange scene, tweeted: “Y’all my family in the Bahamas said Irma sucked up all the water. There’s literally no water. The beach and ocean are gone.”
He tweeted a follow-up video that showed how the water had retreated at a beach in Long Island, Bahamas.
Angela Fritz, The Washington Post’s deputy weather editor, confirmed this phenomenon is real and may occur during extremely powerful hurricanes such as Irma. The storm is so powerful, it can essentially change the shape of the ocean, Fritz said.
“Basically, Hurricane Irma is so strong and its pressure is so low, it’s sucking water from its surroundings into the core of the storm,” Fritz wrote.
“In the center of the storm, where there is extreme low pressure, water is drawn upward. Low pressure is basically a sucking mechanism — it sucks the air into it, and when it’s really low, it can change the shape of the surface of the ocean. As the storm draws water toward the center, it gets pulled away from the surroundings.”
Wayne Neely, a forecaster with the Bahamas’ Department of Meteorology, warned residents of Long Island and Exuma, where water had also reportedly receded from the beaches, to be careful as the ocean returned back to high levels.
“Care must be taken in this case because the water often returns with even greater fury,” Neely said in a Facebook post explaining the phenomenon.
Irma ripped through the Caribbean Sea and parts of the Atlantic Ocean earlier this week. It is expected to make landfall in Florida early Sunday morning. So far, the storm has killed at least 22 people and displaced thousands more.
Below are more images of the ocean disappearing from beaches in the Bahamas as far as the horizon.