Rockpooling

Let's explore rockpools! As the tide goes out, it leaves behind a world of amazing sea life, ready to be discovered.

As the tide retreats, little pools of refuge are left behind. These rockpools are home to fascinating and bizarre creatures and getting a closer look at them is a real treat.

Next time you're at the seaside and the tide is on its way out, take a wander over to some rockpools and get ready for exploration. If you don't have any kit, the water in most rockpools is so clear you can see all kinds of things from the surface. Alternatively, you can use a cup to try to catch creatures - a net is not recommended as creatures may get harmed if they get stuck in the holes of the net.

You may observe sea anemones, swaying their beautiful, colourful tentacles in the water, or fast-moving shrimps sifting through the sand left by the tide for a tasty morsel.

If you spot little spiral shells moving ponderously along the bottom, they could be whelks or perhaps even the borrowed home of a hermit crab. Whilst exploring, you might feel the prickly texture of barnacles under your feet or hands, or perhaps touch some slimy seaweed.

 

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: hermit crabs borrow the shells left by other animals. As they grow bigger, they search for bigger and bigger empty shells.

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What you will need

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. The rockpool creatures are on the alert for things that want to eat them (like oystercatchers) so approach carefully and try not to cast a shadow over the water.
  2. If you have a bucket, an adult should fill it with water - preferably from a different place to where you're dipping otherwise you might scare everything away. Place the bucket in a stable place near to the rockpool you are going to investigate. Be careful - rockpools can be deeper than they appear, and you need to beware of an incoming tide – you don’t want to be stranded. Position yourself so you are kneeling, crouched or sitting in a stable and comfortable position, with your cup, ready poised for action! Now wait quietly and study the water - can you spot any sudden or slow movements? There could be a shell moving along the bottom (it could be a hermit crab), or a small crab with pincers at the ready. They are very fast so you might be better watching without disturbing them (movement in the water is likely to make them hide away again) but if you want to try to catch it, scoop it up quickly with your cup. For slower-moving things you can pick them up by hand, but be careful not to touch any anemones or jellyfish you find, they can sting!
  3. Gently place your creature into the bucket and you can observe your catch up close.
  4. Use an ID sheet if you want to go into a little bit more detail.
  5. If you think your beasties might appreciate some cover you can always add a bit of seaweed or some sand. It's also important you make sure the water does not get too hot, you don't want rockpool soup! Try to keep the bucket in the shade or return your catch to the rockpool if the water gets too warm, and be sure to return your catch before you leave.  
  6. Lots of creatures leave signs behind like shells. Or you might find a ‘mermaid’s purse’ – the egg case of the dogfish (a kind of miniature shark). You could take a few of these treasures home (but check they are empty and there isn’t a shellfish living inside).
  7. 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 or a description of your experience to help earn your award.
Shells

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.

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