February is an amazing time in the Cornish rock pools. Spring is coming and all sorts of fish, sea slugs and other creatures are moving onto the shore. Rock pooling is free, fun and exciting for all ages, so why not wrap up warm this half-term and head for the beach?
There are some great low tides on Saturday 11th, Sunday 12th and Monday 13th February around lunch time. Check the tide times for your local area before you go.
Aim to start one to two hours before low tide as it’s safest to rock pool on an outgoing tide. Keep an eye out for the tide and always stay away from surging waves.
Joining a guided event is the very best way to discover marine wildlife. Experts (including me!) will be on hand to help you find and identify the crabs, fish, shells, starfish and more. At the end of the session you’ll be able to meet everyone’s best finds in the ‘Shore Laboratory’ and find out how the animals live and how to conserve them.
(If anyone know of any other rock pooling events on this half-term, please let me know and I’ll list them here).
Any beach with some sheltered rockpools will do. There are lots all around Cornwall – some of my favourites can be found under the beaches tab at the top of this page.
What to do…
The shore can be very exposed, so make sure you’re well wrapped up and waterproofed. Your feet will get wet so wellies are essential.
Otherwise, all you need is a tub and/or bucket (please don’t use nets as these harm delicate animals). A camera and species guide are useful.
Head for the lower shore (keeping a safe distance from the sea’s edge) and go slowly, looking in shaded, wet areas like pools.
Under rocks and seaweed are great places to look, but move them gently and always return them to how you found them.
We all love spending time with likeminded people, don’t we? So, when a keen diver from Newquay contacts me to request a guided rockpooling tour, I can’t resist. Unusually for a bank holiday weekend, the sun pushes the clouds away and leaves behind a perfect, calm shore ready for us to explore.
We’ve barely known each other a minute before we’re enthusing about the joys of going slowly and taking the time to look for underwater life. We discover our shared love of nudibranchs (sea slugs – read on, they’re lovely, really!). I assure my new friend that we’ll find plenty of wildlife, including some species few divers ever see, and all with minimum kit, no buoyancy control and a limitless supply of air.
Friday was the ideal day for a Cornish rockpool ramble with warm weather and calm conditions. Over a hundred people joined the Looe Marine Conservation Group rockpool event and I’m sure other rockpooling sessions around the Cornwall were similarly well attended. (Here’s a list of what’s on this summer).
The summer holidays are a great time to explore the Cornish rock pools. What better way to discover the crabs, fish, starfish, anemones and a host of other animals found around our shores than to join a guided event? You’ll have the experts on hand to tell you all about the animals and how they live and as part of a group, you’ll get to see everyone’s finds.
Here’s a summary of rockpooling and marine events this summer, which are all listed on the Cornwall Wildlife Trust events pages.
If you can’t make it to a group event, my pages on how to rockpool will help you make the most of your trip. Just click on beaches tab above to find a great rockpooling location near you.
Please check the organiser’s site for full details, any booking requirements and changes before attending. In all cases, children must be accompanied by an adult and wear suitable weather protection and footwear.
24 July – Family Rock Pool Explore at Kingsand. 11.00. Booking essential for this fun rockpooling event for 5-11 year olds with Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Cost: £1 donation to Fox Club.
26 July – Seaweeds and Seaweed Pressing with Angie Gall at Trebah Garden, Helford. 10.00 – 12.30. Booking essential. Suitable for all ages, this workshop is a great chance to meet an expert and learn about seaweeds. Organised by Helford Voluntary Marine Conservation Association.
28 July – Helford Snorkel Safari. Details available on booking – booking essential. A chance for experienced snorkelers and confident swimmers age 8+ to enjoy a guided one-hour snorkel with local experts from Cornwall Wildlife Trust. £5.
29 July – Get Crafty at Polzeath. 10.30 – 12.30. Marine themed arts and crafts with the Polzeath Marine Conservation Group at the Marine Centre in Polzeath. £2 per person (free for members).
14 August – Mad About Mud at West Looe. 11.00 – 14.00. Booking essential. Join experts from Looe Marine Conservation Group and the Friends of Kilminorth Wood to discover the marine life of the Looe estuary. Suitable for all ages.
16 August – Public Sea Watch near Tintagel. 11.00 – 14.00. Look out for seals, basking sharks, sunfish, dolphins and other marine life with the Cornwall Wildlife Trust experts.
17 August – Beach Games near Newquay. 12.00 – 14.00. Booking essential. Learn about sea creatures then become them as you complete fun games and activities. For primary age children.
17 August – Newquay evening boat safari. 18.00 – 20.00. Booking essential. Discover the coastal and marine wildlife of Newquay with local expert Dave Thomas – birds, seals and more.
18 August – Fowey Marine Day at Fowey Town Quay. 10.00 – 16.00. A day of fun activities including meeting huge crabs with Friends of Fowey Estuary and Cornwall Wildlife Trust.