How to be a "Good TidePooler"

Underneath the water off of San Diego’s coastline there is an array of marine wildlife for you to explore. You don’t have to go very deep to experience these amazing creatures up close. During negative tides, head to your nearest shoreline reefs where water pools and find a window into the intertidal world.

Our MPAs are home to San Diego’s best places to “tidepool.” On the reefs around Swami’s, La Jolla and Point Loma you can find a diversity of wild marine invertebrates like sea stars, anemones, octopuses and sea hares among many others.

Although terrific places to view and learn about coastal and marine wildlife, tidepools and the reefs that house them are very sensitive ecosystems. Additionally, these animals and their homes are protected by our network of MPAs and their take is prohibited. So please visit, experience and enjoy San Diego’s tidepools but follow these simple rules and spread the word when you do:

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 11.32.46 AMNever take any animals, shells or rocks from the tidepools.

Placing animals in buckets, even for a short time, is worse than leaving a dog in a hot car.  Even slight changes in temperature can kill  delicate intertidal critters. Also, these animals are protected by our network of MPAs and their take is prohibited.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 11.32.53 AMNever pick up animals, observe them where they are.

These creatures are very sensitive to touch and picking them up can harm and even kill them.


Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 11.33.02 AMWalk gently, taking care not to damage or step on plants or animals.

Many animals in the tidepool take cover in the cracks and in seaweed that grows on the rocks. Careless footsteps can crush animals we can’t see hiding in the reef.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 11.34.42 AMNever turn over rocks.

Tidepool creatures hide under rocks for many reasons. When you turn rocks over you may leave the animals unnaturally exposed to the hot sun and predators and they may not survive.

Know local MPA rules.

The best tidepools in San Diego can be found in our MPAs. In these areas take of marine invertebrates is prohibited. In some MPAs, like La Jolla’s Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve, it is illegal to take, disturb or damage ANY marine species. Click here to find out what rules apply to your MPA.

The future of the incredible coastal and marine wildlife that thrives off San Diego’s shoreline depends on us. So next time you visit local tidepools remember to be a good tidepooler so  these amazing places can be enjoyed now and for generations to come.

The best tidepools can be found in San Diego County MPAs:

Cabrillo National Monument Tidepools (Cabrillo State Marine Reserve)

Tourmaline Surfing Park Tidepools (South La Jolla State Marine Reserve)

Dike Rock Tidepools (San Diego-Scripps Coastal State Marine Conservation Area)

Cardiff State Beach Tidepools (Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area)

Swami’s Tidepools (Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area)

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