SANTA MONICA ( — Ecologists sought the public’s help Wednesday as big waves and extremely high tides were set to hit Southern California beaches.

KNX 1070’s Megan Goldsby reports the so-called California “king tides” can be seen at locations up and down the coastline from Santa Barbara to San Diego.

Occurring several times a year, king tides as high as 6 feet 9 inches have affected coastal communities in recent years, including one event in December 2012 when water from the king tides breached Orange County seawalls caused damage to homes and property from Sunset Beach to Newport Beach.

Scientists say the phenomenon occurs when the Earth, moon and sun align in a way that increases gravitational pull on the Earth’s oceans, raising water levels several feet above normal high tides. The non-scientific term also refers to extremely low tides.

The first king tides of 2014 are expected to come Wednesday at approximately 8:23 a.m. and on Thursday at around 9:09 a.m., according to the California King Tides Initiative.

Organizer Marina Psaros urged residents to snap photographs of any high tides and upload their photos to the group’s Flicker page.

Psaros said the project hopes to build a database that could give researchers a preview of how rising sea levels might affect local communities.

“We have an opportunity now to be able to envision what this will look like in the future, and it’s a great way for us to think about what kinds of planning interventions we should be making,” she said.

Potential solutions to offset the rise of king tides include possible changes to zoning regulations for flooding near the sea, according to researchers.

Click here for a list of dozens of potential viewing locations to see king tides in action.