Natural phenomena can often be simultaneously beautiful and terrifying. Naturally-occurring whirlpools are particularly notable, as they can vary wildly in size and impact. Janis Astics was able to capture a seemingly-innocuous swirl of water near the banks of the Daugava River in Dviete, Latvia. Soon afterwards, however, this tiny whirlpool grew substantially in strength and fortitude.
Astics called this an “Amazing Monstrous Whirlpool” which at first seems to be a gross exaggeration for the first 20 seconds of the video. As the momentum grows, however, the whirlpool consumes ever-larger chunks of ice, twigs and debris. Eventually, even a full sheet of ice far larger than the surface area of the whirlpool itself gets subsumed into its vortex.
With impeccable timing, Astics was able to capture the growth and expansion of this whirlpool on film. Though magnificent, these phenomena are typically impossible to observe in close proximity. This video below by Janis Astics shares a special microcosm to see how a whirlpool grows in nature (the most incredible results occur after 4:00). As you watch the video below, be sure to keep your eyes on the center of the whirlpool.
Note that the tremendous amount of mass sucked in seems to disappear without a trace. Where is all of this material going? To have an idea of the fate of all of this debris and ice, we have to understand how a whirlpool works.
A whirlpool is a circular current in the water typically created when two opposing currents meet. As the currents begin to mix, a funnel of water is formed from the Coriolis Effect, similar to the way a bathtub empties when the plug is pulled out from the drain. To fully illustrate this effect, we can observe what a whirlpool looks like underwater in the video at the end of the article.
Debris gets forced downward through the vortex, usually ending up being thrown out at the bottom tip of the funnel. In the case of the whirlpool captured on film above, the massive amount of debris most likely ended up at the bottom of the river, or possibly jettisoned deep underneath the water, only to surface downstream.