The seashore is awash with interesting creatures that your little ones will love to hunt for and admire. But it always pays to plan-ahead before you go rock pooling to avoid disappointment and unhappy children.
Here’s our handy guide to making the most of your rock pool adventure:
- Choose your location wisely. Go for sheltered, rocky seascapes with gravel or sand-based beaches. Here at Westward Ho! our beach is a sandy Blue Flag one. The underside of permanent features or the sides of rocks can be good places to look too.
- Choose your time wisely. Go at low tide, as this is when you’ll find the most interesting creatures at the lowest part of the shore. Take a tip from the experts. Those working on marine projects do their work during the equinox, or when the moon is full or new, as the tides are at their lowest. It is always sensible to check tide times before you set off. Seaside newsagents, petrol stations and shops often have booklets with these in or you can take a look online. If you go out an hour or so before low tide, you’ll be able to walk out with the tide and have the greatest amount of time at the lowest point before the tide comes in around you.
- Go well equipped for your expedition. It can be a hazardous environment as the rocks can be slippery and sharp. Be sure that everyone is wearing hardwearing, waterproof footwear. Unless the weather conditions are very inclement, always go armed with sun cream and hats. The water is highly reflective even on overcast days. Try and collect things with your hands and then, you hopefully won’t hurt them. Pick up crabs by placing a finger and thumb on the top and bottom of the carapace or hard upper shell. Use clear buckets or picnic-style boxes to collect your finds, as these will allow you to view creatures from below. Be sure to change your water regularly and keep the creatures separate, so that they don’t harm each other.
- Look for clues like patterns in the sand. This can indicate that creatures can be hiding just below the surface. But do dig very carefully. Think like a marine creature and look in shady, protected spots where they’ll like to hide. Have a good look under rocks. Many creatures are camouflaged or very small, so you’ll have to work hard to spot them, but it’s all part of the fun of rock pooling!