The rocky shore never stops being fascinating to us, forever drawing our attention filled with its weird and wonderful sea creatures living in their unique watery worlds, on seaweed strewn and barnacle-encrusted rocks and in those most unique and transient of worlds – Rockpools.
This weekend your mission is to find a rocky shore and explore. If you’ve got kids even better – the rocky shoreline is their first great scientific expedition. Find a rock pool, identify what you can and take lots of photos. Time to leave all that other stuff at home and rediscover the rocky shores!
We’ve put together this guide to rock pools to help get you started.
Where to find Rock pools
Rocky shores are found all over the Ireland and rock pools are found in intertidal zones of rocky shores. That’s all the space inbetween the furthest out the water goes to the highest in it comes. So it’s very much a changing dimension. And depending upon what beach you’re at that can be the difference between a few metres and hundreds of meters.
At high tides these rocky areas are filled with water and when the tide goes out shallow pools of water form as the water ebbs away. These are the Rock pools. The creatures who live within these pools are hardy creatures that have evolved to survive regular and harsh changes in their environments.
Best times to visit the shore
Before you head out be sure to check if the tide will be mostly out, that’s when you’ll find the most rock pools. This website is pretty hand – Tide Forecast. You also want to be careful you don’t get caught by a rising tide. A clear day with little wind will also help. Calm and still water on the rock pools will make it easier to see the creatures below.
What you need to bring
You don’t need any fancy equipment to become a rock pool extraordinaire! Clothes wise decent footwear with good grip to keep your feet dry and save you from the perils of slippy rocks! And a coat – it can get chilly out there!
If you want a closer look at the creature lurking in the pools bring along a magnifying glass and a bucket. Leave the nets at home because they can harm the small soft bodied creatures. And identification guide is good if you’ve got one, or you can photograph what you find and identify when you get home.
What you can find in Rock pools
There’s a plethora of creatures to find hiding in rock pools. Anemones, urchins, mermaids purse (shark eggs), crabs, starfish and lots of different types of seaweed.
Prepare to get wet, some of the most fascinating creatures could be hiding under a rock or just below a bunch of seaweed. If you do move anything be sure to put it back. These pools are these creatures home so be respectful and try not to harm their environment. Also be careful if you pick up and touch any of the creatures you don’t want to harm them.
If you want to learn more about these amazing creature we highly recommend this fantastic little book “Ireland’s Seashore – A Field Guide“.
Remember Safety first
In the grand scheme of outdoor adventures rock pooling poses little danger. But it’s always best to think safety first. So make sure you wear good footwear, those rocks are be slippy! And flipflops are never cool! Check the tides before you go. You don’t want to get caught when the tide comes in.
And if you find any really exciting or unusual creatures, why not do a bit of citizen science and log your findings with Explore Your Shore!