The strait between Naruto and Awaji island has a width of about 1.3 km (0.81 miles). The strait is one of the connections between the Pacific Ocean and the Inland Sea, a body of water separating Honshū and Shikoku, two of the main islands of Japan. The tide moves large amounts of water into the Inland Sea twice a day and also removes large amounts of water twice a day. With a range of up to 1.7 m (5.6 ft), the tide creates a difference in the water level of up to 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) between the Inland Sea and the Pacific. Due to the narrowness of the strait, the water rushes through the Naruto channel at a speed of about 13–15 km/h (8–9 mph) four times a day, twice flowing in and twice flowing out. During a spring tide, the speed of the water may reach 20 km/h (12 mph), creating vortices up to 20 m (66 ft) in diameter.
The current in the strait is the fastest in Japan and the fourth fastest in the world after the Saltstraumen outside Bodø in Norway, which reaches speeds of 37 km/h (23 mph), the Moskenstraumen off the Lofoten islands in Norway (the original maelstrom), which reaches speeds of 27.8 km/h (17.3 mph); and the Old Sow whirlpool in New Brunswick, Canada, which has been measured with a speed of up to 27.6 km/h (17.1 mph).
The whirlpools can be observed from ships, or from the Naruto Bridge spanning the strait. The suspension bridge has a total length of 1,629 m (5,344 ft), with the center span over the strait having a length of 876 m (2,874 ft) and a height of 41 m (135 ft) above sea level. A good view is also possible from the shore on Awaji island.
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