Collection Etiquette

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 law.

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.

Zonation | Intertidal Pools | Collection Etiquette

Kelp & Algae | Fungi | Porifera | Cnidaria

Mollusca | Echinodermata | Osteichthyes

Tides | References