Last weekend I took my friend Adam tidepooling for the first time. He had never been before, so his childlike wonder when we flipped rocks and found the teeming life underneath was absolutely adorable. It reminded me of my childhood in Alaska when tidepooling completely consumed my summers - wait for the low tide and run out onto the beach, flipping over rocks willy nilly to expose the tiny worlds that laid underneath.
If you're never been tidepooling before or don't know what it is, it's simple... really! Whenever the tide goes out (especially to the minus tides, basically any tide below 0) and exposes the rocks that are usually underwater, small sea creatures take cover in the pools of water that collect in rock crags. To avoid existing in a seagull's stomach, they all congregate underneath rocks and wait until the tide rises again. This makes it a perfect opportunity for curious humans who DON'T want to eat the animals (well, I would hope not!) to flip over the rocks and see what's hiding underneath! Crabs, shrimp, little fish, pillbugs, gross worms, sea anemones, gunnels... I've even found octopus in the past! It's one of my favorite activities, and I love seeing what the beach has to offer every low tide.
Some important things to remember if you decide to try tidepooling:
- Bring gloves. Most of the rocks you want to flip are encrusted in barnacles, which will completely destroy your hands if they're not protected.
- Flip over rocks that are not stuck in sand or flush to the ground. The more space beneath them, the better! The long, flat ones are generally the best.
- Don't hurt the animals underneath! It's okay to gently pick them up and look at them (if they let you), but don't poke, prod, squish, or feed to seagulls! It's a complicated ecosystem - DON'T BE THAT GUY.
- Flip the rocks back over!! I cannot stress this ENOUGH. Once you're done looking under the rock, PUT IT BACK. Otherwise the seagulls are going to reap your bounty and all of your tiny new friends will be dinner for pesky birds!
This goes without saying, but if you want to go tidepooling find a ROCKY beach. Sandy beaches obviously have nothing more than sandworms if you dig deep enough. If you're in the Seattle area, one of my favorite beaches for a quick jaunt is the point at Alki - it has a ton of rocks at low tide.
As for seeing WHEN the low tides are, you can either get a tide almanac, check online, or use an app. I use an AWESOME little app called TideGraph, where you can input your preferred beach. It shows you precisely when the low and high tides are!
What about you guys? Have you ever been tidepooling? Where? Did you find anything amazing? I love hearing people's stories!