Pond dipping

Beneath the surface of the water, there's an unseen world of amazing wildlife ready to be discovered. Get dipping!

Pond dipping is great fun and reveals all sorts of interesting creatures that live in even the smallest of ponds.

What's lurking in the depths of a pond near you? Maybe a mysterious alien-like dragonfly nymph, or a great diving beetle perhaps! 

Set off on an expedition to your garden pond, or visit one of our reserves and take part in an organised pond dip!

You'll be amazed at how many different things you'll find sharing this wetland habitat.

Are you doing this activity as part of your Wild Challenge? Find out how you are progressing – are you getting closer to gold?


Did you know: dragonflies have been around on earth for around 300 million years and some of the early species may have been the size of seagulls!


people have completed this activity

What you will need

  • A net (you can learn how to make your own one here!)
  • A tray to put the creatures in
  • Spoons to look at minibeasts more closely
  • Our Activity sheet (download in: English or Cymraeg/Bilingual) or a pond guide
  • Camera or pens and paper

Welsh/English bilingual resources are also now available for our family Wild Challenge activities/ Adnoddau dwyieithog rŵan ar gael ar gyfer gweithgareddau Sialens Wyllt

Step by step

  1. Keep safe around water. Always have an adult present and be very careful as the edge of a pond can be slippery. Do not lean over the water.
  2. Approach the water quietly and move slowly. This will give you the best chance to see the wildlife, not only in the water but also by the water's edge.
  3. Once you’re at the water’s edge, firstly stand still to look into the water and listen for movement in or around it. This will give you a moment to appreciate the pond environment as a whole and spot tiny creatures you may catch, notice how they move and where they hide!
  4. An adult should put a few centimetres depth of pond water in the tray. Don’t let the water get too warm if it’s a sunny day.
  5. When you are safely set up and ready, slowly lower your net into the water. To keep the water flowing through the net, move it gently in a figure of eight motion. Be careful you don’t knock anyone with the net or its handle – remember there may be people behind you!
  6. After a few loops gently lift out the net, place it in the water in your tray and turn it inside out, dipping the mesh into the water. The catch is then ready to be observed.
  7. Use the pond ID sheet to work out what animals you've caught.
  8. When you've finished dipping, carefully lower your tray nearer to the water surface and pour the contents of your tray back into the pond, then give the tray and net a gentle rinse to make sure all the creatures are back in the pond. If you're planning to use your net in a different pond, get a grown-up to soak it in fresh, hot water to avoid transferring any nasties from pond to pond.
  9. Give your hands a good wash when you’ve finished.
  10. Don't forget to tell us when you have completed the activity! When you mark the activity as complete, you will be asked to upload a photo, drawing, painting description of your experience to help earn your award.
Looking for pondlife

Completing the activity

Use the 'Mark as complete' button at the top of this page to tell us you've completed your activity. You'll need to show us what you did by uploading a photo of what you saw or your family on the look out! Alternatively, draw or paint what you saw or upload a description of your experience.

Watch some pond explorers

Pond dipping in the garden

A family spend the afternoon pond dipping.

Family pond dipping video screenshot

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