SeaWeek is an ideal time to head down to a local beach and have a look at the animals that call your local beach home. It is sometimes hard to know where to start when you arrive at a beach, especially if you have a large rock platform to explore. This article will give you some starting points to finding animals at your beach.
When to Visit Firstly, you need to go when the tide is low. Remember not all low tides are equal, they will vary in height, so choose the lowest one for your visit. Willy Weather is a good option to search for your local beach and look at the tides for the day you want to visit. While we focus on low tide to reveal the animals at our beach, the high tide line is well worth exploring. This is where the last tide will have deposited things like seaweed and shells. You may also find shark eggs, sea urchins, sponges and cuttlefish bones to name but a few.
Where to Look So, you have arrived at your rocky beach at low tide. Where do you start looking? The creatures living on your beach will fall into two groups, those happy to sit in the sun and those who prefer the shade. The sun lovers will be snails and seaweeds. The shade lovers will be under rocks where it is not only dark but cool and often wet. So, rocks closest to the water is the place to start. These have been exposed by the falling tide for the shortest time providing a cool moist environment for the animals.
How to Look When you start turning over rocks you need to keep a few things in mind. Your safety should come first. Keep your fingers where you can see them, you do not know if there are any dangerous animals under the rock you are about to turn over. The best method is to stand facing the sun so that when you turn over a rock the sunlight illuminates the underside.
When you turn over the rock the crabs will be the first to “run for cover”, but other creatures may remain still before starting to move. Take your time to examine the depressions in which your rock sat. If it is sandy then there may be brittle stars or hermit crabs or decorator crabs. Don’t forget to examine the rock itself. Often creatures like sea stars, flatworms, chitons, elephant snails and tube worms will be attached to the underside of the rock. Take care to replace the rock the way you found it.
Enjoy exploring your local beach. We will look at a few beaches that you could visit in coming Seaweek articles.
If you would like to learn more about the huge diversity of life that can be found in the shallows along our shorelines, or want to organise a school or public beach walk please contact Education Director Mandy Robertson on firstname.lastname@example.org