Tide pool


A tide pool is a wonderful place.  It allows the patient and watchful visitor a way of seeing animals and plants usually found only in the low tide or subtidal zones.  Any depression in rock that traps water when the tide goes out will do, however the bigger the more to be seen.   In south Puget Sound there are few such places, but more can be found in rocky areas further north in Puget Sound and in rocky coastal beaches.  Tide pools can be found at any tide level and range in size from a few gallons, only inches deep to thousands of gallons, several feet deep.

A tide pool is nature's aquarium.  Like an aquarium in your home, a tide pool provides oxygen, proper water chemistry, waste product removal, tolerable water temperature and food.  In your home this work is done by air pumps, water filters, careful monitoring and daily feeding.  In nature the incoming tide does the work.  However when the tide falls, things change.  Shallow tide pools in the high tide zone are subjected to high temperatures in the summer and low temperatures in the winter.  Few animals or plants can tolerate such conditions and so those tide pools house only a few species.  At mid tide level and lower even small pools a few inches deep, such as shown in the picture, can be brimming with life.  Shrimp, shore crabs, a variety of small seaweeds, sea anemones and small fish scuttle about.  When the tide comes in the animals will roam the surrounding rock hunting for food returning to a pool as the tide ebbs.  One fish, the tidepool sculpin (Oligocottus maculosus), knows the pools so well in its territory that it returns to the same one each day.