Heidi Duncanson | Communications Coordinator
Discovering a tiny sea star, slippery eel or prickly urchin at the coast has often been described as a magical experience and here at Seacoast Science Center, we get to help make those moments happen every day. In fact, we have a favorite spot for finding cool creatures that our staff has nicknamed “The Magic Tide Pool” at Odiorne Point State Park. This spot can be found about half a mile north of the Seacoast Science Center just off the path along the ocean. It’s where we often bring our environmental campers and school groups to increase their chances of making great finds.
To have a fun and fruitful tide pooling experience along the shore, here are some tips from our seasoned naturalists.
First, choose the right time of day to explore. The best times to make discoveries in tide pools are one hour before low tide to one hour after low tide. You can find tide charts for Rye here.
Second, dress for comfort and safety. Rain boots, water shoes or non-skid sandals are recommended as the rocks are often slippery and you may find yourself wading out into the water to get a closer look at something. Our crew also suggests applying sunblock, wearing a hat, and bringing along a magnifying glass. You can also purchase a laminated seaside species identification guide at our Nature Store for just $6 to help ID what you find.
Third, please look and touch but don’t collect anything. You can pick things up for a better view but please don’t remove anything from its coastal habitat. If you move rocks around to get a better look at something, put the rocks back where they were. If you pick up a live animal, please also put it back where you found it. Animals are often in specific places in the tidal zone to keep themselves safe from predators … leaving an animal out in the open can leave it vulnerable to hungry seagulls or it could dry out and die if left out of the water long enough.
What animals might you find along our rocky shore? There are so many, starting with common mollusks like barnacles, periwinkles and mussels. In the mid-tide area (venturing further from the shore), you will often come across dog whelks, green crabs, Asian shore crabs, sea urchins and sea anemones. In the subtidal zone where animals are always under water, you may find little lobsters, sea stars, rock gunnels, clam worms and amphipods. This is where you will also find different types of seaweed and algae.
If you want a guided tour of the tide pools, check out Seacoast Science Center’s Family Nature Programs. Through the summer, we are offering naturalist-led tide pooling experiences for small groups of families, as well as Nature Journaling, Salt Marsh Investigation and Marine Debris program. You can find full details here.
Whether you come to the “Magic Tide Pool” at Odiorne Point State Park or explore the shore during a coastal vacation this summer, we hope you’ll remember our tips and make your own magical memories with the wonder of nature.