To plan a successful visit to see tide pool animals in the wild you will need a tide table. You can usually get these free of charge from local sporting goods stores. Internet sources have the added benefit of allowing you to view the tide tables for places out of your local area. Here are two good links:
»» National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration Tide predictor http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/tide_predictions.html?type=Tide+Predictions&searchfor=pescadero+ca
»» West Coast tide height and time charts, weather and maps http://tides.net
If you want to get information about surf swell and wind that might affect your trip, a good source is Surfline swell, wind and weather data: http://www.surfline.com/home/
Reading a Tide Table
Tide tables vary, but most look something like the one below. The first thing that tide poolers do when looking for good days to go out in search of tide pool animals, get a paper copy of a tide table that is close to somewhere with good tide pools. Then follow these steps:
- Look under the two LOW columns for tide heights of zero or a negative number and highlight them. There are 15 of these in the sample tide chart below. These are the days that have a low tide that is at or below the average, exposing more of the tide pools and the animals that live there.
- Now look at the times the zero or minus tide occurs for each of those. You will see that three of them are when it is too dark to see. Cross out those days and you have the best 12 days of the sample month that would be very good to go tide pooling!
Now that you know how to figure out the days and times that are the best, what do you bring with you? Here are some guidelines: What to wear – clothes and shoes that can get wet, plus dry ones and a towel for when you are done tide pooling. Most important of all, a good attitude about safety, both for you and for the tide pool creatures. This means:
- Do not disturb or turn over rocks.
- It is best to use the ‘Look, but don’t touch’ rule. You’ll see more natural behaviors by observing tide pool creatures where they are, being themselves.
- Always avoid harming tide pool animals—don’t pry them off the rocks, poke them with sticks, or attempt to feed them.
- Walk gently and cautiously. Rocks can be sharp or slippery. Take care not to step on marine life.
- For safety’s sake, always face the ocean when exploring tide pools and beware of unexpected waves that can sweep you off the rocks.
- Don’t trash our beaches. Always pack out whatever you bring in. If you see trash, pick it up!