Bodyboarders catch big waves in Newport Beach, California, July 24, 2009. (Photo: David McNew/Getty Images)

The three-month window in which the annual, spontaneous Mavericks Invitational surf contest will be held has officially opened.

A high-surf advisory is in effect for the San Francisco shoreline.

Beaches have become danger zones.

All signs point to it  … it’s Big Wave Time!

Just as we have the last few years at this time, we’d like to take this opportunity to point you to a fantastic episode of KQED’s Quest that explores the science of big waves.

What causes these monstrous walls of water? How are they formed? When do they typically happen?

And why do some seemingly ignore the natural human instinct for self preservation by surfing these waves?

Watch the complete episode of QUEST’s “The Science of Big Waves” below:

Big Waves Return, But Why Now? 6 January,2012Gabriel Coan

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