Tide pooling is a great activity to get kids outside and keep them entertained. There are enough brightly-colored, spiny-skinned, stinky sea creatures that call the coastline home to fascinate the kid in all of us. Winter is the optimal time to go tide pooling. It is when the biggest minus tides occur, revealing parts of the intertidal region that are usually under water. The tide pools listed below, however, are prime for your enjoyment year round.
Intertidal zones are the areas where land and sea meet. This fluctuates with high and low tide. Rocky shores, mudflats and sandy beaches all fall within this area. This is a complex and harsh environment for plants and animals to survive. They must be able to withstand being submerged in salt water for part of the day and exposed to the sun for the rest of it. There are four intertidal zones including the splash, high, mid and low zone. The splash zone is the area above the high tide water line and mainly depends on sea spray and mist for water coverage. The high zone is the area of rock or beach that is covered during high tide and is characterized by the larger acorn barnacle. The mid zone is characterized by three highly recognizable creatures: the seastar, the mussel, and the gooseneck barnacle. The low tide zone is characterized by the large fleshy brown algae that begin to appear in this area.
Be sure to use caution when visiting tide pools as these ecosystems are very fragile. Mind your manors and respect the flora and fauna in the pools; keep in mind that their daily environment is a difficult in normal circumstances, and the added stresses of footsteps and curious fingers can do a lot of damage to these delicate organisms.