Tidepools

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The Oregon coast abounds in rocky intertidal habitat. Often composed of black, knobby, erosion-resistant basalt, these wave-battered areas see the twice-daily change in tide, going from full submersion to direct exposure to sun and air in a matter of hours. 
     
For a truly immersive tidepooling experience, visit Bandon's Coquille Point in summer to meet volunteer USFWS interpreters during low-tide days. Download the June 2015 schedule (PDF 751 KB). 


The rocks’ myriad nooks and pools and fissures harbor innumerable organisms, representing dozens of species from multiple phyla. Many of these—such as the barnacles, mussels, sponges and algae—are sessile, more or less rooted in one spot their entire lives. High tide brings not only oxygen-rich water but sustenance to these immobile lodgers, in the diminutive forms of plankton. Other creatures, like sea stars and nudibranchs, are free-moving so long as the tide is up. 

As one moves down the beach, chasing the ebbing tide to water's edge, notice the subtle change in scenery around the rocks. There is a discernible stratification to the lifeforms: different species occupy different levels of the beach, or zones, depending on water depth and length of exposure to the air. 

At low tide, everything is stranded, and the intertidal organisms are preyed upon by opportunistic foragers such as gulls, crows, and a variety of shorebirds. Oregon Islands NWR features several areas where one can watch this fascinating tidal drama unfold.

Yaquina Head Natural Outstanding Area, overseen by the Bureau of Land Management, offers great tidepooling opportunities. Visit their website for more information about Yaquina Head and its attractions.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach is another location to view tidepool creatures up close. During the spring and summer the Haystack Rock Awareness Program offers on-site interpretation of the tidepools and why they're important. Learn more about their program here.

For a more detailed guide to tidepool life, as well as for tips on tidepooling etiquette, go to the Oregon Tidepools website