Advice for Rock Pool Explorers

What can you see in our South Coast Rock Pools?


Coralline turf seaweed in a Taputeranga rock pool

Coralline turf seaweed in a Taputeranga rock pool

For study, choose mid-level pools replenished by sea water at each high tide. Look out for golden striped common triplefins, in search of any small animal to eat. The transparent shrimp is also a fast mover when it detects a scrap of food. Spindle shaped whelks feast on other shellfish. Empty shells are often home for a hermit crab; a rapidly moving whelk shell usually means crab ownership. Look out for the purple shore crab and the smaller rock crab.

Red sea anemones survive out of water as a blob of jelly, but quickly revive when the tide reaches them. Neptune’s Necklace is often a fringe around pools, along with a variety of red, green and brown seaweeds. Some encrusting red algae may be seen looking like red paint on the rocks. Tufted red coralline turfs are common. Look for dried out karengo on the rocks around the higher tide levels. These weeds are still alive but need to be in sea water as the tides roll in. You should see limpets and chitons too at the tidemark.

Some sensible advice for your rock pool studies:

  • Never turn your back to the sea when there are waves crashing in.
  • Sit and look – keep shadows off pools, or critters may be spooked into hiding.
  • If you want to catch moving creatures – fish, crabs, – use a sieve or net and transfer creatures to an ice cream container of rock pool water. Keep the container shaded away from hot sun.
  • Gently lift and investigate under rocks, but make sure you replace the rocks in the same position.
  • Return all creatures to a good sized pool before you leave. Take any rubbish home with you.

See also more about rock pools at our Marine Life pages