The more you explore and search rockpools, the more you will discover. Start at the bottom of the shore at low tide and work your way up the shore, keeping an eye on the tide at all times. The best way to see swimming creatures in the pool is patience, perhaps in combination with some bait to lure the animals out. You can use a clear plastic bucket to get a closer look at what you’ve found, but animals can get ensnared in nets so you must ensure you’re extremely careful and the animals must be released quickly back where you found them.
After you’ve had a look for what’s swimming around, the best way to explore what’s going on in the rockpools is to get your hands in. Carefully pull back seaweeds to see what’s lurking beneath them, or pick up rocks to check if anything is hiding underneath. There are many tiny species that live exclusively on large seaweeds. Look for white tube worms that look like quinoa, or colonies of star ascidians that look like small flat flowers.
On the rocks around the pools you will find a range of gastropods, or sea snails. There are also mussels, barnacles and perhaps some reef-building honeycomb worms at the low tide.
There are many beaches ideal for rockpooling around Bude. Bude Bay faces West, and so is quite exposed strong wind and waves being blown from the SW. To the South of Bude, at Millook, Wanson and Black Rock there is some shelter and the oppurutiny to see large kelp species at low tide. At Crooklets, Summerleaze, Widemouth, Nortcott, Sandymouth and Duckpool there are plenty of rockpools at low tide between patches of sand.
Low tide is essential for the best rockpooling opportunities. This is when all the large pools are exposed. These are the pools with the highest variety of species in.
Tide times can be accessed online (click here), but there are also RNLI signs with the tide times at the entrances to all life guarded beaches. If you are unsure then always check with the lifeguards. They will be happy to give advice on the tide and sea conditions that day.
Good weather is also preferable, but not absolutely necessary for exploring rockpools. Strong winds disturb the surface of the pools, making it hard to see into their depths. Poor weather however doesn’t have to put you off. A full set of waterproofs and washing up gloves to keep your hands dry will allow you to go rockpooling whatever the weather. Sturdy boots or shoes with a good grip are essential. Seaweed is incredibly slippery when wet.
Exploring rockpools is like discovering a hidden world that children (and adults) might otherwise overlook. There’s are a wide variety of species, with complex relationships all living in this secret habitat. They can be a fantastic way to learn about marine organisms that would otherwise be very difficult to see and learn about.
Rockpools offer shelter for marine organisms from waves and exposure, meaning that they become little oases on the beach for species that would otherwise live below the low tide mark.