There are not as many tidepools here at our Carolina Beaches as on the West Coast and New England States but......if you know where to look you can spot some unique creatures this summer. My favorite spot to go looking is at a small beach cove at Fort Fisher. You park at the rocks before you get to the park and then walk to the rocks at low tide on the far right (facing the ocean). I always find anemones, sticky to the touch and usually hermit crabs (leave them there). Then end of Sunset Beach is a great spot and on the coastal waterways in the grasses at low tide is a fun place to explore as well Beware of sharp shells and thick mud that you may sink into.
Here are a few tips for great collecting this summer. Let me know what you find.
Check the Tides The best time for tide pooling is low tide, or as close to it as possible. You can check the tides usually in the local paper, or online using a tide
2. Bring a Book. In many areas where there are tide pools, you'll
find pocket-sized marine life field guides at the local bookstore or souvenir
shops. Bringing one of these along will help you identify any critters you find
and learn about them. A great activity for kids: match up the animals and
plants they find to identification pictures in a field. We carry a great one on the NC
3. Wear sturdy shoes or boots. Going barefoot isn't
usually the best choice for a tide pool. Many tide pools have piles of slippery
seaweed, and scratchy critters like barnacles, snail and mussel shells. Wear
sturdy shoes that you don't mind getting wet, such as sport sandals or old
sneakers, or rubber rain boots.
4. Beware of Slippery Seaweed! As mentioned above, tide pool rocks are often covered with slippery seaweed. Walk safely by placing your feet on bare rocks or sand (if there is any). Encourage kids to "walk like a crab" by using both hands and feet and staying low to the ground.
5. Return Animals Exactly Where You Found Them. Some animals live in a very
small area their entire lives. The limpet, for example, uses its radula
to scrape a small hole in a rock, and this is where it lives. Some limpets
return to that exact spot each day. So if you move an organism far from its
home, it may never find its way back. So if you do touch an animal, do it
gently, with wet hands, and then put it back right where you found it.
6. Don't Remove Attached Animals. Follow the "body language" of
the animals you see. Do not pull an attached animal like a limpet, barnacle or
sea anemone off a rock. Often you can learn more by watching an animal in its
place, but if you do try to touch an animal, don't pick it up if it appears
7. Explore From the Sidelines When Possible .Instead of tramping
through every tide pool you see, explore from the edge if possible and resist
the temptation to pick up every organism you find. This will minimize your
impact on the habitat and the animals that live there.
8. Leave No Rock Overturned. Tide pool animals often hide under
rocks, so one way to find them (other than just observing a tide pool and
watching them move around) is to gently lift a rock up and see what's
underneath. Always put the rock back where you found it. If you flip it over
entirely, you could kill marine life living on its upper or lower side.
9. Marine Animals Don't Belong in Your Bathtub. Don't bring any
plants or animals home. Number one, many of them are very sensitive to the
salinity and other particulars of their habitat. It also may be illegal - many
areas require a permit for "collecting" marine life.
Bring a Bag. Bring a grocery bag with you to bring your trash home. Even
better, pick up some trash that others have left behind. Litter can hurt marine
life if they become entangled or accidentally swallow trash.