By Kim Foley
young marine biologists, or even just animal or ocean lovers, tidal pools offer
oodles of opportunity for exploration. Found along the shore, these pools form
in depressions in the sand or in pockets between rocks when the tide recedes,
leaving small temporary habitats for all sorts of marine life.
As with Leave No Trace principles on land, it’s important
to tread lightly, so to speak, when exploring a tidal pool. After all, they are
home, even for a short time, to many marine plants, algae, and animals.
Park Service offers several tips for exploring tidal
pools safely and responsibly, including a warning that careless handling and
footsteps can wreak a lot more havoc than the changing tides. When you and your
kids visit the beach, don’t wade or sit in tidal pools and be careful where you
put your feet. Some creatures are too small to spot! In addition, never pry
animals from rocks, which can hurt them, and always make sure to re-cover any
animals you find under rocks or seaweed so they won't dry out.
Now that you’re
primed to investigate them safely, what might you discover in a tidal pool?
Among the most common animals in New England tidal pools are plankton, seaweed,
barnacles, crabs, sea anemones, and even sea stars. Part of the adventure
is that every tidal pool will be completely different and reveal something new.
One of my
family’s favorite places to look for tidal pools is Wingaersheek Beach, in
Gloucester, Mass., where the ebbing tide leaves an enormous beach filled with
Another favorite is Halibut Point State Park in Rockport, Mass., a
gorgeous coastal spot that’s magical to explore. Other popular New
England spots include Brenton Point
State Park in Newport, R.I. and Acadia National
Park in Maine. For in-depth information on tidal pools in Massachusetts,
head to Mass
Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center in Newburyport, where they have
all-weather tide pooling activities, with a touch tank and activities led by
planning ahead will improve your chance of finding tidal pools, so be sure to
consult a tidal chart before you head out. Visit the Massachusetts Marine Trades Association
website for tide charts all along the region’s coast. Another excellent
resource is the NOAA
Virtual Tide Pool, an excellent interactive way to learn about tide pools
and the creatures that live there.
One last tip:
It can be fun for kids to keep a journal of what they see in the pools and to
take photos. You’ll appreciate the memories and they’ll love the chance to
compare what they find with previous and future visits.
Get advice on raising
the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts in the Great Kids, Great Outdoors blog and
find more tips and trip ideas in the Appalachian Mountain Club’s community for