At the water's edge is the intertidal zone, a habitat that alternates between the dry and wet worlds. Tidepools occur where boulders and rocky outcrops trap seawater when the tide recedes. At high tide, they form surge channels, crevices and cracks that are home to many familiar seashore animals, like sea stars, hermit crabs, and sea anemones.
Tidepooling is exciting for all ages. World class tidepooling can be found at Shi Shi Beach, Second Beach, Hole-in-the-Wall (near Rialto) and Kalaloch area beaches. Be sure to show care and respect while exploring the intertidal area.
Learn more about responsible tidepooling tips to minimize your impact.
Responsible Tidepooling Tips and Safety
Easily observed by beachwalkers at low tide, the intertidal areas of 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 are not as slippery and you will avoid stepping on the animals and plants that cling to these surfaces.
- Apply the "touch test." An animal that resists being removed from a surface will cling more tightly. Don’t force it—respect what the animal tells you with its "body language."
- Never force an animal off its spot, you may tear off its feet, or squeeze its organs. Rough or excessive handling hurts animals.
- If you want to peek under a rock, put it back the way you found it. Leaving a rock "belly-up" could harm or kill any animals that were living on its underside—not to mention those that dwell on its upper side.
- Always obey fish and wildlife laws with respect to seasons, bag limits, and sexes of animals taken for food. Intertidal animals should not be collected for bait.
- Watch closely for the returning tide and "sneaker waves."
- Algae and seaweed make the surface rocks extremely slippery. Use caution and test rocks before committing to stepping on new surfaces.
- Wear sturdy shoes that you don't mind getting wet.
- Keep children close as rocks and waves can be unpredictable, and falling hazards may lead to severe injury.
- Do not bring dogs onto tidal rocks as the sharp stone, along with barnacles and mussels, can cut their paws and lead to infection.
- Do not leap from rock to rock. Always keep at least one foot on the ground.