Learn about the creatures of the rocky tides and keep a record of your investigations with this scientific "tide pooling" activity.
What You'll Need:
- Local tide table
- Adult partner
- Notebook and pencil
- Guidebook to tidal animals of your area
To plan the best time to visit tide pools, get a local tide table from a sporting goods store or the Internet. Arrive at the tide pools with your adult partner an hour or two before low tide to begin looking as the tide is going out.
Sit near the edge of a large pool to observe animals. The longer you look, the more you will see. While actual species will vary at each shoreline, here are some types of animals you're likely to see:
Sea anemones: These simple animals have tentacles around the mouth to trap food. If you gently touch a tentacle, it will feel sticky. This is caused by tiny stingers too small to pierce your skin but able to sting small prey.
Sea stars: Get flat and watch a sea star in the water moving slowly across the rocks. Can you see the tube feet moving? Sea stars eat mussels, clams, and other shellfish. If you see one with its arms pulled in close and its middle hunched, it's probably eating.
Sea urchins: These close relatives of sea stars look like colorful pincushions. Urchins use their spines for defense as well as to scrape rocks to make round holes to hide in. Can you see long tube feet sticking out between the spines? The urchin uses these to move and to pass food to the mouth on the bottom of the animal.
Crabs: Most tide pool crabs are scavengers. Watch them using their claws to feed. Crabs are usually shy, so be patient and watch for them.
Use your notebook to record what you see and approximately where you see it. You'll notice that some animals live in certain areas of the tidal shore.
A guidebook to tide pool animals will help you identify actual species, and will help you spot animals found only in your area.
The next activity will show you how to map the biological diversity of the beach.