Tidepooling Inside Our Marine Protected Areas

June 7, 2016 — Julie Edwards, Heal the Bay MPA Intern, highlights the recreational opportunities – such as tide pooling – that Angelenos can enjoy in our local marine protected areas. Join us for our next MPA Watch citizen science training in late July!

This month, I did something I haven’t done since I was a child – I went tide pooling. Tide pooling is a great activity for anyone at any age; all it takes is a keen eye! With a little luck you can find curious octopuses, bright green anemones, spiky purple sea urchins and slimy sea hares.

There are great tide pools in Little Dume Cove, which is within the Point Dume State Marine Reserve, where all marine life is protected. The reserve is part of California’s statewide network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which stretches along the state’s coast. MPAs preserve ocean habitats, as well as the diversity and abundance of marine life. They also provide recreational and educational opportunities, such as tide pooling!

Chestnut Cowrie in Little Dume CoveThe more upcoast tide pools near Paradise Cove are formed by tall rocks, making tide pooling possible even at mid-tide! In these northern pools you can see woolly sculpins, sand castle worm colonies, and turban snails. You might even get lucky and spot a beautiful chestnut cowrie, like the one pictured on the right. Remember to tread lightly on rocks to avoid stepping on marine life, be gentle when touching critters, and leave animals in their tide pool homes. Check the tides before you go and time your visit for a low tide. Please be careful and do not climb on the rocks – they are slippery and wet, so it is very easy to fall and hurt yourself.

On the northern end of Little Dume Cove, the rocks are covered with mussels and barnacles. There are some anemones hiding amongst the barnacles in shallow pools formed in the rocks so try to spot them!

Low rocks form tide pools at Little Dume CoveHeading south in Little Dume Cove, the pools are no longer formed by ridges of large rocks and are instead formed by many low rocks and small boulders. This area is very accessible and would be great for the whole family. Be sure to get there at the low tide, the rocks are easy to walk across and there is less chance of getting splashed by incoming waves. These pools have an abundance of life but please don’t take anything home! This is a State Marine Reserve so fishing/harvesting of all marine resources is prohibited. If you see anyone collecting from the tide pools during your trip to Little Dume Cove and the Point Dume State Marine Reserve, please call the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at 1-888-334-CALTIP.

From June 4th-12th the CA Coastal BioBlitz will bring people together to document biodiversity in one place at one time, record observations of plants and animals using smartphones or digital cameras and upload results to the biodiversity recording platform iNaturalist.

Read more about Heal the Bay’s own BioBlitz events in Malibu and Ballona.