1. Go on a rock pool ramble

Imagine happily feeding in sea water one minute and the next the water has gone. Now the sun is blazing down. You have to avoid drying out or falling victim  to the rising concentration of salt as the water evaporates from your small pool of water….scary stuff!

The intertidal zone, where we find rock pools, is the area between high and low tide and for the plants and animals that inhabit this area life is very challenging. Rapidly changing conditions such as changes in light, temperature, salinity (saltiness) and wave action,  plus the additional challenges of pollution and climate change  mean that the plants and animals living in rock pools have to adapt in order to survive here.

You don’t need to go a rockpool – this fellow was found under a pier at low tide!

Why explore rock pools?

Within the intertidal zone there is a range of different habitats (splash zone at high tide to low shore) as well as micro habitats. This means that you will find a diverse and interesting group of inhabitants! 

As you start to explore the rock pools, the more time you spend looking, carefully examining and observing, the more you will start to see… From the often brightly coloured Snakelocks anemone, slow creeping limpets and almost hedgehog-like sea slug  to tiny colonies of animals called Bryozoans which can be found on rocks and algae, you can’t fail to be amazed by the variety of life thriving here. We hope that your explorations will lead you to want to find out more about marine life and our Oceans and to do your bit to protect them.

What do I need? 

  • Suitable clothing depending on the weather: waterproof jacket and suitable footwear (wellies, trainers NOT flip-flops!).
  • ID card or book  
  • Small white tray (but try to observe animals in their natural habitat rather than remove them)
  • Magnifying glass
  • Small net
  • Camera/phone (but don’t drop it in the water!)

How long will it take?

Even in five minutes you can find lots of interesting rock pool creatures and plants/algae. If you do want to spend longer rock pooling then make sure you know the tide times and have suitable layers of clothes and water to drink.

Where can I do this challenge?

Any rocky shore, but even pebbly or sandy shores can have some rocks or structures such as piers that are worth exploring at low tide – these various types of shore are interesting habitats in themselves.

Things to think about…

  • Please ensure you are aware of tide times and be aware of weather conditions and the sea state.
  • Be aware of slippery rocks and wear suitable footwear as it is easy to cut or bash toes.
  • Take your mobile phone (ensure you have a full battery) especially if out on bigger rock pool adventures
  • Do not touch any suspect items e.g needles and report these if found to life or coast guard.
  • Wash your hands after exploring.
  • Remember the Seashore Code and treat the creatures you are observing gently, replacing them and any rocks etc you find where you found them. Don’t leave them in your tray for more than a few minutes.
  • Tread carefully – avoid trampling rocks covered with limpets etc
  • Remember some creatures might nip or give you a light sting such as the Snakelocks anemone…
  • That’s some Health and Safety out of the way  – so how about LISTENING as you sit by the rock pool – they are not as quiet as you might first think!
You can find species like this beautiful Snakelocks anemone across the Solent

Want to do more?

Download some ID charts and get to know some species even better. A great place to start is the Great Eggcase Hunt – identifying mermaid’s purses which are the egg cases for rays and sharks! Find out more from the Shark Trust and download one of their ID leaflets.

Find out more about what is living in the rock pools on the Isle of Wight via the Isle of Wight Rock Pools Facebook page and group. You can add your own picture of your rock pool finds here or via Wilder Solent.

Keep a note of your findings and keep a record over the year. Share your findings with a group such as the Marine Conservation Society, your local Wildlife Trust or email marlin@mba.ac.uk especially if you find any non native species.

You can make your own Seashore Code book mark to keep in your ID book !

Try another challenge!

CHALLENGE 2: Go nurdling! What are these tiny pieces of plastic and where do they come from?

CHALLENGE 3: Get litter picking: Set an example and keep our coasts free from rubbish

CHALLENGE 4: Be an eco-swapper! What changes can you make to help our oceans?

CHALLENGE 5: Create some sea-inspired art! Find inspiration on the beach

CHALLENGE 6: Tell someone about the oceans! Put pen to paper or find another way of telling someone what matters to you

CHALLENGE 7: Design a poster! Use your experiences to create a poster for next year’s Ocean Challenge!

Check out this crab found in an Isle of Wight rock pool!