Tidepools are fragile — and kids are natural explorers — which makes the match a little precarious for the sea life in the tidal zone. Tidepool field trips are the answer to this environmental conundrum.
When I was young, there were no tidepool rules. I could run, play, and collect. Shells and ocean animals were plentiful. How come your kids can’t have the same experience? Why does there have to be rules?
Because you’ll be lucky to see a starfish nowadays! (Yes, I said “nowadays.” I’m officially OLD!)
The Good Tidepooler Rules to remember are: “Never remove animals, shells, or rocks; never pick up animals; walk gently; and never turn over rocks.”
If you want your children’s children to be able to tidepool in the future, then we need to have some pretty strict protections in place for our heavy foot-traffic Orange County beaches.
So what’s the best way to see the tidepools? On a field trip with a guide!
The Orange County Marine Protected Area Council is the best resource out there! You’ll find:
- A great video to watch BEFORE you go to the beach called Between a Rock and a Hard Place.
- A complete list of Tidepool field trips for K-12.
- A complete list of Tidepool public programs.
What other marine animals might you see?
The Laguna Ocean Foundation has deeper scientific explanations of these sea creatures.
A limpet. This one has the animal living inside and is attached to the rock. Sometimes you’ll see the shell on the beach with a tell-tale hole in the center.
A shore crab. These guys are pretty common. You can look out for them when you are walking around boat harbors and rocky outcroppings by the beach, too. Can you spot him in there?
Gooseneck Barnacles. These guys fascinate me with their mother-of-pearl type iridescence and little “tongues” that flick in and out.
California Mussel used to be so prevalent and now I don’t even see as much of them anymore.
Chiton are positively prehistoric looking! Here is one among camouflaged and shell-covered anemones. Can you spot a few limpets here, too?
And here’s those starfish I mentioned. Starfish fought a new threat called Sea Star Wasting Syndrome where they basically disintegrated and disappeared, but they are starting to come back from it.
Try exploring the tidepools with the experts and then go PLAY at the beach!
If you and your family would like to visit the tidepools, check LetsGoOutside.org for guided activity listings.
Originally published in 2014.