Rock pooling is fun for all ages – everyone can give it a go. Beach shoes and bucket at the ready? Here’s how to get the most from your adventures.
1. Join an organised event.
There are lots of events organised by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and other local organisations throughout the year, especially during the summer holidays. With experts to help and lots of eyes looking, you’re bound to find more.
Can’t make it to an event? No problem – just use the tips below and the information on this site to help you have a fantastic experience.
2. Check the weather and the tides.
You’ll find much more and be safer if you visit the beach at low tide. Aim to start an hour or two before low tide so that you can get out further and not risk being cut off. Choose a calm day so that you can see into the water easily.
3. Dress the part
You don’t need much equipment to go rock pooling – a bucket, identification guide and magnifying glass are useful, but nets can harm the soft-bodied creatures so are best left at home. Beaches are exposed to the elements, so wrap up warm or slap on the sun cream as appropriate. Above all, choose footwear that you can get wet in and that will protect your feet from sharp rocks and pincers – wellies or beach shoes are ideal.
4. Head for the Lower Shore
Beaches slope downwards, so the further towards the sea you go, the deeper the underwater habitat you’ll be exploring. Start your rockpooling as far down the beach as you can to find some amazing creatures. You can work back up the beach as the tide comes in. Watch out for slippery seaweed and stay away from cliffs.
5. Look under rocks and overhangs
Sea creatures like to stay cool and damp. Look deep into pools, crevices and holes in the rock and gently lift stones and seaweed. Take time to look for any movement and for shapes or colours that stand out. Listen for crabs clicking and fish flicking the water with their tails. Find out what species you’ve found by looking at my wildlife pages. Make sure you replace stones and seaweed exactly as they were and leave the creatures where you found them.
I would love to hear from you about your rock pool finds.
If you’re taking kids to the beach, be sure to pick up a copy of my new book, Beach Explorer. It’s packed with facts ideas for hands-on activities to help you discover how beaches work, the secret lives of marine animals and how you can help to look after your beach. My books are available from your local bookshop and online.