Most people think of our coast lines as sandy beaches to
take their children for walks and play on a sunny day. And while
this is partially true, many have not seen our coastlines from
a natural history perspective.
To visit the tide pools formed when the tide recedes to it's
lowest point. Plan your visit during the lowest tides since this
will expose a greater area for observation. You must first check
a tide schedule. Local newspapers and bait and tackle shops usually
have a listing of tide schedules in your area, so you can plan
your visit during these lowest peaks. You can also use the Internet
to look for tide schedules. If you live in southern California,
try visiting the Catalina
tide information page. You can also find information outside
of Southern California by going to the tide
predictions web site.
Learn the etiquette for observation and research of this
environment you will be exploring. Remember you are invading
the home to a diverse group of organisms and respect for their
environment is crucial.
Non-slip diving shoes or sneakers are recommended for this
journey since it requires stepping from rock to rock to reach
the best tide pools. Do not attempt to walk on these rocks barefooted
or with sandals because these rocks can be very slippery and
sharp. Watch where you step as tide pool organisms are fragile
and they live everywhere and are damaged by being walked on.
Don't turn your back to the ocean as the waves are unpredictable
and could cause you to fall. You might get wet so wear
appropriate clothing. A sun hat and sunscreen are recommended
as well as a first aid kit in case you fall.
As you step into a tide pool area you will begin to notice
immediately some of the life forms that exist here. Please remember
if you move a rock to find some of these hidden wonders, make
sure to put the rock back to it's original position. Not doing
so can cause the organism to die because of exposure to air,
sunlight, predators, etc..
Also, remember it is important to leave this environment
as you encountered it (except for the removal of pollutants such
as garbage.) Some tide pool areas around Southern California
are Marine Life Refuges or Preserves and they are protected by
Unless you have the required scientific collecting permit
from the California Department of Fish and Game, you should not
take any live or dead organisms or rocks from this area. The
action of many people that through the years have collected indiscriminately
from this area, has ruined many of our rocky intertidal locations.
If you need to have a memory of what you find here, get one of
those disposable water proof cameras and photograph it instead.
Let's ensure that future generations can also appreciate these
pools of living wonders.
And lastly it should go without saying that whatever items
you bring to the beach must also be taken away. Our class takes
large garbage bags along when visiting the tide pools to pick
up any pollutants others may have left behind. Every time one
litters the coastline, our garbage can be responsible for the
death of organisms. So what you pack in - pack out.