Going on vacation along a rocky shore? Visiting a tide pool is a great way to see and learn about a wide variety of marine life. It may not seem like there's much in a tide pool from a distance, but take a moment to look closely at a tide pool and you're sure to meet lots of interesting types of marine life.
Tide pooling is a great activity, but do it with the safety of both you and your family, and the marine environment, in mind. These tips will help you have a fun, safe and educational tide pooling experience. Have more? Share your own tide pooling tips and favorite tide pooling locations.
1. Check the Tides
The best time for tide pooling is low tide, or as close to it as possible. You can check the tides usually in the local paper, or online using a tide predictor.
2. Bring a Book.
In many areas where there are tide pools, you'll find pocket-sized marine life field guides at the local bookstore or souvenir shops. Bringing one of these along will help you identify any critters you find and learn about them. A great activity for kids: match up the animals and plants they find to identification pictures in a field guide!
3. Wear sturdy shoes or boots.
Going barefoot isn't usually the best choice for a tide pool. Many tide pools have piles of slippery seaweed, and scratchy critters like barnacles, snail and mussel shells. Wear sturdy shoes that you don't mind getting wet, such as sport sandals or old sneakers, or rubber rain boots.
4. Beware of Slippery Seaweed!
5. Return Animals Exactly Where You Found Them.
Some animals live in a very small area their entire lives. The limpet, for example, uses its radula to scrape a small hole in a rock, and this is where it lives. Some limpets return to that exact spot each day. So if you move an organism far from its home, it may never find its way back. So if you do touch an animal, do it gently, with wet hands, and then put it back right where you found it.
6. Don't Remove Attached Animals.
7. Explore From the Sidelines When Possible.
Instead of tramping through every tide pool you see, explore from the edge if possible and resist the temptation to pick up every organism you find. This will minimize your impact on the habitat and the animals that live there. Popular tide pool spots are visited by thousands of people each year, which can severely impact the marine life that live there.
8. Leave No Rock Overturned.Tide pool animals often hide under rocks, so one way to find them (other than just observing a tide pool and watching them move around) is to gently lift a rock up and see what's underneath. Always put the rock back where you found it. If you flip it over entirely, you could kill marine life living on its upper or lower side.
9. Marine Animals Don't Belong in Your Bathtub.
Don't bring any plants or animals home. Number one, many of them are very sensitive to the salinity and other particulars of their habitat. It also may be illegal - many areas require a permit for "collecting" marine life.
10. Bring a Bag.
Bring a grocery bag with you to bring your trash home. Even better, pick up some trash that others have left behind. Litter can hurt marine life if they become entangled or accidentally swallow trash.