Tidepools are created when the tide goes out from rocky coastal areas, leaving water in crevices and holes. These intertidal (between tides) places support a unique and diverse assortment of plants and animals.The organisms that live in the intertidal areas have to be able to withstand a wide variety of fluctuating environmental conditions. For example, when it rains, they can get inundated with fresh water. When it gets sunny, the smaller pools can get very warm or conversely, very cold during the winter months. Some species, like those living closest to land (and further up on the rocks), have to be able to survive for long periods of time without any water. For example, barnacles may be exposed for many hours without any water reaching them. Then, when the tide comes in, the same organisms must survive the harsh conditions of ocean life.Tidepool species are specially adapted for life in intertidal areas, which makes them unique and very special.
To get a sense of some of the amazing species that live in Oregon's tidepools, be sure to stop by the multimedia (i.e., photos, videos) page to "virtually" tour the tidepools.
Check out our interpretive guide to some of the most common plants and animals found on Oregon's rocky shores. You might want to visit the multimedia (i.e., photos, videos) page to "virtually" tour the tidepools. Oregon Sea Grant has a great publication on the wrack line , check it out to figure out what that stuff you find along the beach might be!
Since tides vary in height, shallow places are uncovered more often than deeper places. Different organisms live at different levels (called “zones”), depending on who landed where and on each organism’s ability to survive being exposed. More marine life—and more fragile marine life—can be seen during lower tides. Check the tides when planning your visit to help you have an enjoyable and safe visit.
If you plan your trip right or maybe just get lucky, you may happen upon an interpretive ranger that can help you answer some of the other questions you may have.
Wearing boots or sturdy footwear that can get wet and dressing in layers for unpredictable coastal weather are key to a safe and comfortable visit. (Shoes that fit snuggly on your feet and cover your whole foot can help prevent slipping and getting scratched up.) Bare feet and flip-flops are dangerous in tidepools.
Check tide tables and think about bringing one with you (you can print out a pocket sized-sized tide table on the tide page) so you can keep track of tide levels. Other items that may be helpful include an intertidal field guide and binoculars for wildlife viewing at a safe distance.
Respect the life here and the precious value it has for all Oregonians: follow proper tidepool etiquette . To help minimize the impact to the inhabitants of the exposed ocean bottom, head over to the tidepool etiquette page to learn about some common "do's" and "don'ts" of the tidepools.
Although cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) do not live in tidepool areas, they are often visible from the same Oregon State Parks you may visit to go tidepooling. The most commonly spotted species is the grey whale. However, visitors will occasionally spot humpbacks, orcas, and harbor porpoises. The best time of year to spot cetaceans varies from species to species. Grey whales are best spotted in the spring (March/April) or winter (November/December). Humpbacks are best viewed in the summer and fall (July-October). Orcas may occasionally be spotted from April-August and although not common, you may see harbor porpoises throughout the year. Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) has three weeks that are dedicated whale watching weeks. Please visit the Whale Watching Spoken Here site for more whale-watching information, including what sites to visit for best viewing opportunities.
Some information for educators is available on the teach page, including field trip tips and links to rocky shore related lesson plans.
You can help keep the beach clean by (safely) removing human-made debris that washes up. Find information about beach debris on Oregon's shoreline and how you can help out.
In the spring, when tidepooling is popular, harbor seal pups are often found on the beach. Usually, they are not stranded, just resting while their mothers are off looking for food and should not be disturbed.
The Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network (OMMSN), which responds to stranded and injured marine mammals, notes that "adult female seals are shy and a mother is unlikely to rejoin a pup if there is activity nearby. She may only return to suckle her pup at night when people are not around. It is very important not to interfere with this process, and especially not to move a pup from where it is receiving care from its mother. Within three or four weeks of birth, harbor seal pups are weaned from maternal care and are left to fend for themselves. While learning to find and catch its own food, a young seal may come ashore frequently to rest. This is often a very challenging stage of life, and not all pups survive. But while it may be tempting to “take them in,” their best chance for survival is to be left alone on the beach."
If you are concerned about the welfare of a seal pup or any other marine mammal you encounter, report it to the 24-hour Oregon State Police hotline at 800-452-7888. Please describe the situation and location of the animal so the OMMSN can follow up on your concerns. The OMMSN also has a page with stranding "do's and don'ts."
The "other visitors"page has some more information about birds and marine mammals found on Oregon's rocky shores.
Information on Oregon State Parks can be found on the official website of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, including frequently asked questions about camping, what's allowed, animals (e.g., pets on the beach), and special events.
Please visit the new Oregon State Parks Celebrate the Shore blog to find more information about Oregon's public ocean shore.