Let's explore rockpools! As the tide goes out, it leaves behind a world of amazing sea life, ready to be discovered.

A pink and orange crab perched on a jagged brown rock, which extends down into a rockpool behind.

Next time you're at the seaside and the tide is on its way out, take a wander over to some rockpools and get ready for exploration. If you don't have any kit, the water in most rockpools is so clear you can see all kinds of things from the surface. Or, you can use a cup to try to catch creatures – we don't recommend using a net as creatures may get harmed if they get stuck in its holes. 

You could see sea anemones, swaying their beautiful, colourful tentacles in the water, or fast-moving shrimps sifting through the sand left by the tide for a tasty snack. 
If you spot little spiral shells moving slowly along the bottom, they could be whelks or maybe even a Hermit Crab. While exploring, you might feel the prickly texture of barnacles under your feet or hands, or perhaps touch some slimy seaweed.

Did you know:

Hermit crabs live in shells left by other animals. As they grow bigger, they search for bigger shells to move into.

Estimated time: Under an hour Season: All year Skill level: Not too tricky


Rockpool creatures are on the alert for things that want to eat them (like Oystercatchers)

 So approach carefully and try not to cast a shadow over the water.

A group of nine Oystercatcher walking across the shoreline at a beach.

If you have a bucket, an adult should fill it with water – preferably from a different place to where you're dipping otherwise you might scare everything away.

Place the bucket in a stable place near to the rockpool you are going to investigate. Be careful – rockpools can be deeper than they appear, and you need to beware of an incoming tide – you don’t want to be stranded.

Position yourself so you are kneeling, crouched or sitting in a stable and comfortable position, with your cup, ready for action.

Now wait quietly and study the water – can you spot any sudden or slow movements? There could be a shell moving along the bottom (it could be a hermit crab), or a small crab with pincers at the ready.

They are very fast, so you might not be able to catch them, but if you want to try – scoop them up quickly with your cup. Movement in the water is likely to make them hide away again, so watching without disturbing them may be the best way to get a good look.

You can pick up slower-moving things by hand, but be careful not to touch any anemones or jellyfish you find as they can sting.

A family of four and a small dog, investigating a shallow stream of water, flowing down a sandy beach.

Gently place the creature into the bucket to get a closer look.

Use an ID sheet if you want to go into a little bit more detail.

Partnering with

The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International.More