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Breaker A sea-surface wave that has become so steep (wave steepness of 1/7) that the crest outraces the body of the wave and it collapses into a turbulent mass on shore or over a reef.

Breaking usually occurs when the water depth is less than 1.28 times the wave height.

Roughly, three kinds of breakers can be distinguished, depending primarily on the gradient of the bottom: a) spilling breakers (over nearly flat bottoms) which form a foamy patch at the crest and break gradually over a considerable distance; b) plunging breakers (over fairly steep bottom gradients) which peak up, curl over with a tremendous overhanging mass and then break with a crash; c) surging breakers (over very steep bottom gradients) which do not spill or plunge but surge up the beach face.

Waves also break in deep water if they build too high while being generated by the wind, but these are usually short-crested and are termed whitecaps.

Breakwater An offshore or onshore structure, such as a wall, water gate, or other in-water wave-dissipating object that is used to protect a harbour or beach from the force of waves.

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