Let's go Rockpooling!
There's still a couple of weeks left of the school holidays and if you're heading to the seaside a morning spent rockpooling is a must! It's fascinating to peer into these tiny little watery worlds and even better, it's free! Our seas tend to be warmest in September but you can go rockpooling at any time of the year. Optimum conditions are when the weather is dry and calm as this means the surface of the rockpool will be still.
Did you know that the best rockpools are the ones that are closest to the sea shore? The ones nearest the beach tend to be full of green seaweed called gut weed and are made of a mixture of salt and fresh water. The ones on the water's edge are more likely to be 100% sea-water and rock pool creatures need this to survive.
Start by looking for movement. You might see a small fish like a goby. Prawns and shrimps are common but they move so quick it's sometimes hard to spot them! At the bottom of the pools you may see a starfish or a sea hare (type of sea slug) feeding on seaweed. And you can often see sea anemones waving their tentacles at you.
To really get the most out of a rockpool you need to get your hands wet. If you turn a rock over you might be lucky enough to find a crab but look out for the red eyed blue velvet crab as they will nip! And be sure to replace any rocks that you have moved.
It's also REALLY important to check the tide times when you go exploring and beware of slippery seaweed on the rocks. The best time to set out is at low tide when most pools will be exposed.
You can find great guides to rockpooling and lots of information about our beautiful coastline on the Marine Conservation Society's website.