Tide Pools
Tide Pools

"Peering into a tide pool is like looking
through a window into another world... "

James Luther Davis, "Seasonal Guide to the Natural Year."

When the tide is out along Puget Sound, the intertidal zone is revealed. Each tide pool holds a pocket of special plants and animals adapted to daily changes in temperature, moisture, oxygen, food sources, and predation.  

Looking into a Tidepool...

  • Amazing Anemones
    While submerged, anemones fan out like luscious underwater flowers. When the tide goes out, anemones close up to conserve moisture.
  • Bony Barnacles
    Barnacles glue themselves to rocks head first. When underwater, feathery legs called "cirri" sweep for food. As the tides goes out, barnacles hide in a hard shelter to conserve water.
  • Under Urchins
    You'll find red sea urchins tucked in rocky tide pools grazing on seaweeds, algae, and animal matter. Juvenile urchins often hide under the spines of adult urchins. Color ranges from red to dark purple.
  • Mussel Mouths
    Mussels tie themselves to rocks with strong byssal threads. When the the tide is high, mussels open their shells. Water moves over their gills, which gather oxygen and bits of food (plankton).
  • Seeing Sea Stars
    At low tide, look for the ochre star in the shade of rocks. Commonly clustered in groups, it can measure up to 16 inches in diameter. Ochre stars appear in a rainbow of colors: brown, orange, yellow, purple, or pink. The ochre star can live as along as 20 years. Even though ochre stars do not have eyes, they sport a red dot on each arm or "ray" which is sensitive to light.

    Tide Pool Tips

    • Look, learn, and leave things as you found them.
    • Resist the temptation to take animals or plants. Most creatures brought home from the shore die and end up smelly in the trash.
    • Be careful where you step. Don't trample intertidal plants and animals. Walk on bare sand or rocks, if possible.
    • If you pick up a rock, a piece of seaweed, or an animal, put it back gently where you found it. This will help keep animals safe from predators and temperature extremes.
    • Do not disturb birds or marine mammals.
    • Pick up trash.

    Related Topics

    Tides, Tidal patterns, zones, and hazards along Puget Sound. Public Access, Where you can go to explore the beach.

    Related Links

    Puget Sound Marine Life Photos, King County, Washington. Photographs of Puget Sound marine life including algae, invertebrates, and fish. One of the best online tide calculation sites -- and it prints out easy to read tide tables.  

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