Rockpooling

Let's explore rockpools! As the tide goes out, it leaves behind a world of amazing sealife, 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 down by the seaside, grab a bucket and a net and get your eyes at the 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.

Keep your eyes peeled for 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 see little spiral shells moving ponderously along the bottom, they could be whelks or perhaps even the borrowed home of a hermit crab.    

Be careful not to touch any anemones or jellyfish you find, they can sting!

 

Are you doing this activity as part of your Wild Challenge? Take a look at your progress and go for gold!

 

Did you know That 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

  • Eyes and little bit of patience are essential
  • Bucket
  • Net
  • Rockpooling ID sheet
  • Camera or smartphone

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.
  3. Lower your net in slowly and if you spot something like a shell moving along the bottom (it could be a hermit crab), or a small crab with pincers at the ready, sweep it up quickly. For slower-moving things you can pick them up by hand, but be very careful - rockpools can be deeper than they appear. Make sure you're kneeling or crouched in a stable and comfortable position before trying this. 
  4. Turn the net out into the bucket and you can observe your catch up-close. 
  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 the dogfish (a kind of miniature shark), leaving its egg case called a 'mermaids purse'. Why not take a few of these treasures home? 
  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 piece of writing talking about 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 piece of writing talking about your experience.

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