What is the intertidal zone and why should we protect it?
The intertidal zone is the area between the mean high tide and mean low water line. It is the home to a vast number of species that create a balanced and very diverse marine ecosystem that can be closely observed and enjoyed by humans. The proximity to urban areas and accessibility to the public is not, however, as good for the tidepool critters as it is for us. For this reason, the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative was created with the intent of preserving California's diverse intertidal habitat to insure system sustainability for the enjoyment of curious generations to come.
Please do not take any living or non-living items from the tide pools. Be cautious of where and what you step on while on the rocks. It is important that the tide pools do not suffer any further damage due to human activity. Tide pools are fragile ecosystems that take many years to recover.
Note: All of the tide pools inside of the city limits are within a State Marine Conservation Area. This means that nothing is allowed to leave these areas, including game fish, dead or alive invertebrates, sand, rocks or shells.
Beaches for Tide Pooling
- Crescent Bay - Rocks may be closed on both north and south end due to high tide and/or large or dangerous surf conditions.
- Shaw's Cove - Very good tidepooling on both sides. The TideWater Docent program provides volunteers to educate the public during low tides or on busy weekends and holidays.
- Picnic Beach (Heisler Park Reserve) - During low tides the south side of the beach has a flat rocky section that is covered with sea anemones that close up into shell camouflaged blobs to protect themselves when out of water.. While it seems like a nice flat place to walk, it is virtually impossible to walk across without squashing the marine life or slipping and falling yourself. Try to stay on the dry rocks further back and just observe.
- RockPile (Heisler Park Reserve) - Walking south of the stairs to the beach area will give you exposure to a flat section of tidepool similar to the one at Picnic Beach. Try to observe from the sand so as to avoid stepping on and destroying the marine life. Look for the occasional octopus! If you walk north of the stairs, you can stay on dryer rocks and observe many urchins, striped shore crabs, hermit crabs, etc. from a higher and less impactful vantage point.
- Bird Rock (Heisler Park Reserve) - Accessible by walking north from Main Beach, Bird Rock has some excellent tidepooling. It is possible to view a great number of marine animals without directly impacting their habitat. Recent highlights have been a number of sea hares and red urchins and the occasional sea cucumber.
- Moss Point - Be careful of incoming tides and surf that will completely cover the beach.
- Treasure Island -The Montage Resort provides tidepool docents to educate the public during low tides and busy weekends and holidays.