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Monterey Tide Pooling Tips

Tide pools are a delight to discover along the rocky California coastline. In corners and crevices of rocky outcroppings, peaceful pools of seawater teem with life just beneath the surface. Amazing animals such as purple sea urchins, ochre sea stars and giant green sea anemones all call this habitat home.

Here are a few reminders to help keep you, your children and the tide pool animals safe and healthy.

Tide Pool Animals

You will undoubtedly encounter many amazing animals in Monterey's tide pools. Have a conversation with your children about how to care for these critters before heading off.

  • Look closely. Instead of picking them up, quietly stop and watch the rocky shore animals for a few minutes. You will see and learn much more this way.
  • Touching with dry fingers can damage delicate surfaces. If you do touch an animal, wet your hands first.
  • Touch gently. If the animal tries to escape, let it go.
  • Leave ocean animals in their homes. Most will die if pried from the rocks, and all of them need the oxygen from seawater to breathe. Always return animals exactly as you found them. Replace any rocks or shells that you turn over  —  they are homes for many animals. In the Sanctuary, plants and animals, rocks and shells are protected. Collecting them is not allowed, even those found high on the beach. Collection will result in fines.
  • Remember to use all your senses. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of the waves and birds; feel the cool ocean breeze; smell the salty air.
Purple shore crab and pacific purple sea urchin in tidepool

Safety on the Shore

Careful! It's best to take precautions in the rocky tide pool environment.

  • Watch where you step. Rocks are sharp and seaweed is slippery. By stepping carefully, you keep yourself safe and keep the plants and animals safe too.
  • Large waves can be dangerous, even deadly. Always keep an eye on the water and don't turn your back on the ocean, even for a moment.
Family of four observing a tide pool

Environmentally-Friendly Excursions

How to be considerate of the environment when heading to the beach.

  • Keep things clean. Make sure your trash is placed in a trash can.
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle what you can. Get your family to help. Avoid single-use products when packing your picnic.
Girl and her mother properly dispose their trash in a garbage can

Protecting Marine Habitats

The Monterey Bay coastline, including its tide pools, is part of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The sanctuary protects the many marine habitats and plants and animals living along our coast. Some activities that could harm the ocean's health, such as oil drilling, are prohibited. But many others, such as fishing, boating and exploring the coastline are allowed. Visiting the rocky shore can provide you and your children with an exciting look at ocean plants and animals in their native habitat.

Most importantly, tell others what you've learned and what you're doing to help the oceans. Conservation of the ocean starts with you.

Learn more about National Marine Sanctuary