Exploring the Laguna Tidepools

Exploring the Laguna Tidepools

Although much of the Laguna Beach coast is lined with stretches of sandy beaches, there are also many rocky areas that offer excellent opportunities to explore tide pools.

It starts with the rise and fall of the tides. Twice a day, pounding surf surges in and beats against the rocky shoreline, whipping up an agitated froth. Six hours later the waters retreat leaving the area exposed and life within it on hold until the sea returns.

Tidepools are mini-universes all their own, placed at the intersection where ocean and land meet. Creatures like sunflower sea stars, gumboot chitons and turban snails inside must adapt to powerful waves and constant tidal changes that take them from high and dry to underwater.

Some of the shells you will see actually contain hermit crabs that scurry around hunting for food. Green anemones wave their tentacles trying to capture minute organisms to drag into the depths of their bodies. Closer to the breaking waves are sea urchins, and more crabs and sea stars.

There are several tidal zones beginning with the splash zone, which receives the blast of the waves at high tide, and proceeding through the high tide, mid tide, and low tide zones. Each of these sections has its own creatures and plant life that manage to exist in both the turbulent water and when high and dry.

The high tide zone remains moister than the splash zone and here you will see barnacles, mussels, rock crabs, anemones and chitons. The mid tide zone is uncovered at normal low tide levels. Small fishes, shrimp, sea stars, hermit crabs and nudibranchs live in this environment. Of these the shell-less snail, the nudibranch, is probably the most colorful, often having flowing plumes on their backs.

They dine on sponges, hydroids, colonized plant-like organisms that cling to rocks, and bryozoans, moss-like creatures similar to coral line algae. Uncovered only at the lowest tides each month, the low tide zone harbors anemones, sponges, sea urchins, tube worms, sun stars, sea cucumbers and thick beds of seaweed.

When the weather isn’t right for surfing or sunbathing, it’s perfect for tidepooling, which is best done in the winter months during a zero or negative low tide…and doesn’t require a wetsuit! So come stay at one of our Laguna Beach vacation rentals and gaze into these many small ponds at low tide you will be privileged to see a miniature realm in complete detail.