Skills & Techniques

Tips for Tide Pooling

Brice - October 11, 2019

Urchins, anemones, starfish, oh my! Tide pools give us an opportunity to observe an aquatic environment from land. These windows into another ecosystem can be a fun outing and an opportunity for education. Here are some ways to ensure they remain healthy during your visit. 

1. Look But Don’t Touch

Tide pools are full of amazing and interesting sea creatures, giving us a unique chance to observe them. It’s important to keep in mind that these are active ecosystems though, not just underwater museums. The animals can be injured or displaced by us, so it is best not to poke, pick up, or move them. 

Tide pool star fish

2. Stand on Solid Ground

There are living things out of the water too, and our footsteps can harm them. Be mindful of what you’re standing and walking on, and try to stick to bare rock and sand. Try to avoid plants, mussels, and other small animals. Wet rock can also be slick, so tread lightly and carefully. 

Mussels on tide pool rock

3. Pay Attention to the Waves

To stay safe while you explore, know the tide tables and keep an eye on the ocean. Waves can sweep over an area quickly and suddenly. Just because waves aren’t reaching you, doesn’t mean they can’t. Try not to put your back to the water and be mindful of sneaker waves and the incoming tide. 

4. Use the Thumb Trick

The creatures you see in the tide pool aren’t the only wildlife. Seals, sea lions, otters, and other ocean wildlife call these areas home too. Keep an eye out for other animals, either in the water or hanging out on the shore, and give them space to avoid causing them to flee. Use the thumb trick to tell how far away you should be to keep you and them safe.

Tide pool wild life protection

5. Take Your Time and Your Trash

The best way to see tide pools is to take your time, and the best way to respect this ecosystem is to take your trash. The longer you spend, the more you will see. Just remember to take everything with you when you leave.

Leave No Trace’s Erin Collier and Brice Esplin are part of the 2019 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of AmericaREIEagles Nest OutfittersDeuter, ThuleFjällräven and Klean Kanteen.


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