Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture

Tidepool Ettiquette

photo of anemone and starfish in a tidepool Easily observed by beachwalkers at low tide, the intertidal areas of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary are ideal locations to learn about the sea and its resources first-hand.

However, for these areas and their inhabitants to thrive, all visitors must show care and respect for the life at the water's edge:

  • Bring a bag with you on every beach outing to pick up any paper, glass, metal or plastic trash that you find.
  • Find footholds on bare rock-they're not as slippery and you'll avoid stepping on the animals and plants that cling to these surfaces.
  • If you want to peek under a rock, put it back the way it was when you're done. Leaving a rock "belly-up" is an almost sure way to kill any animals that were living on its underside - not to mention those that dwell on its upper side.
  • Always obey fish and game laws with respect to seasons, bag limits and sexes of animals taken for food. Intertidal animals should not be collected for bait.
  • Refrain from building driftwood campfires, which can smolder beneath the sand for many weeks.
  • Rough or excessive handling hurts animals. Never force an animal off its spot, you may tear off its feet, or squeeze its organs.
  • Apply the "touch test"-an animal that resists being removed will cling more tightly-respect what the animal tells you with its "body language".


For additional information about intertidal life of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary:

"Seashore Life of the Northern Pacific Coast" by Eugene N. Kozloff - 1983, University of Washington Press, Seattle).

"Exploring the Seashore in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon by Gloria Snively" - 1981, The Writing Works, Seattle)

"The Intertidal Wilderness", by Anne Wertheim - 1984, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco)

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary NOAA Sanctuaries and Reserves Division 115 East Railroad Ave., Suite 301, Port Angeles, Washington 98362-2600 (360) 457-6622

Contemplating the teeming life of the shore, we have an uneasy sense of the communication of some universal truth that lies just beyond our grasp.... What truth is expressed in the legions of the barnacles, whitening the rocks with their habitations, each small creature within finding the necessities of its existence in the sweep of the surf? ...This meaning haunts and ever eludes us, and in its very pursuit we approach the ultimate mystery of Life itself.

- Rachel Carson, 1955, The Edge of the Sea



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