Crystal Cove’s Natural Playground

‘Tis the season to explore our underwater park. Winter months offer the lowest tides of the year with peaceful, uncrowded beaches making it the perfect time to discover the wonders of Crystal Cove’s tide pools.

You could say tide pool organisms are the survivors of the ocean, living in two separate worlds where the ocean and land meet. Resident creatures must cope with crashing waves, constant tidal changes, and live through both wet and dry conditions as well as salt and fresh water depending on the amount of rainfall on any given day. Given their unique habitat these organisms have developed into fascinating creatures thriving in remarkable ecosystems along our coastline.

The beauty that lies within tide pools is unlike any other. Every shallow pool you encounter is home to living creatures and a window into their world. Search for an ochre sea star wedged in cracks and nooks, spy a two-spotted octopus hidden in a deep pool camouflaged at the edge of a rock, count how many fish species you can find, as well as the fluorescent green sea anemones, limpets, nudibranchs, hermit crabs, and so much more.

While tide pool animals have adapted to their challenging environment, they remain vulnerable to other environmental pressures, such as habitat disturbance and disease.  To help protect coastal animals from disturbance, a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been established down the California coast.  These MPAs, which includes Crystal Cove State Park, establish rules to protect marine and shoreline animals.

Don’t forget your Tide Pool Etiquette:

Walk carefully around tide pools to prevent stepping on organisms, even the algae.

Do not pick up or move organisms from tide pools.

Do not poke or prod organisms and always wet your hand when gently touching.

Nothing can be taken, including animals, rocks, and shells, so the tide pool animals can utilize these resources.

(You wouldn’t want anyone to take something from your home, so don’t take something from their home.)

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