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Engineers were likely helped by a bit of celestial luck in refloating the massive container ship that had been blocking the Suez Canal for nearly a week.

According to NASA, the so-called full “Worm moon” on Sunday triggered a high spring tide on Monday – around 46cm above average – which aided the process of straightening out and dislodging the ship.

According to the National Ocean Service, spring tides have little to do with the season; they’re a historical term for when tides “spring out” during new and full moons.

Suez Canal Ship walltrace

Although there are 12 to 13 full moons in a year, only six to eight are correlated with a tide high enough to do what was done on Monday, according to CNN meteorologist Judson Jones, since the moon is closest to Earth during those full moons.

“These tides are always a foot higher than other high tides in the year when the moon is further from the Planet,” Jones said. “These high tides were certainly part of the plan for dislodging such a large ship.”

Supermoons are full moons that appear larger and brighter in the sky than regular full moons.
The first supermoon of the year happened in March, and it was estimated to be the fourth brightest moon in 2021.

Since the earthworm casts – dirt that the worms eat – become apparent as the ground thaws at this time of year, Native American tribes in the US South call the March full moon the Worm moon.

After tugboats spent several hours working to free the bow of the Ever Provided container ship after dislodging the stern earlier in the day, traffic in both directions of the Suez Canal resumed on Monday evening.

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Hundreds of ships that have been stuck in the critical shipping lane since March 23 are preparing to resume their journeys as a result of the successful refloating.

The challenge now is to deal with the backlog and congestion on the boat, which could take more than three days to clear if workers work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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