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Sustainable and Responsible Tourism » Blogs » Exploring Island Tidal Pools

  • Exploring Island Tidal Pools

    Posted by Shawna Quinn May 20, 2014 - 302 views - 2 comments - 0 likes - #Wildlife  #nature  #vancouver island  #ecotourism  #tidal pools  #explore  #sea life 

    If you've never spent an hour lost in the fascinating, tiny universe of a tidal pool, you're missing something.

    Actually, you're missing a lot. And if there's anywhere on earth that's ideal for tidal pool exploration, it's Vancouver Island. From popular spots like Botanical Beach in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park to tiny inlets hidden along quiet shores, if you're near the water you're likely to find a tidal pool nearby. Affected by the rhythm of the tides, these zones create a unique environment for habitants that must adjust to significantly different conditions during high tide and low, and incredible critters have evolved here that can survive and thrive in these inconstant environments.


    What can you expect to see in a Vancouver Island tidal pool?

    Seaweeds, sea grasses, and marine lichens - all of these photosynthetic marine organisms can be found in intertidal zones and range from grassy green blades of Ulva to giant, brown bull kelp that wash up on rocky shores. (NOTE: many kelps have noted medicinal properties, from anitbiotics to anti-cancer agents.)

    Sea stars - soft and spiny and spectacular, sea stars are often synonymous with tidal pool gems of the island. (NOTE: recently large populations of Pacific sea stars from BC down to Mexico have been dying off from what researchers believe might be a virus that elevates the creatures bacterial loads. Speculation that it may be caused from stress or rising ocean temperatures exists, but results are still preliminary.)

    Nudibrachs - also often referred to as "sea slugs, nudibranchs come in a spectacular array of colours and are fascinating finds. (NOTE: nudibranch means "naked gills", and there are over 3000 described species on earth!)

    Crabs - purple crabs can be found scurrying sideways along the rock, and hermit crabs, borrowing shells from their environment for temporary homes, are often found in tidal pools. (NOTE: one predator of the purple shore crab is a tidepool sculpin, another fascinating creature found in this habitat. Sculpins can find their way back to their favourite tidal pools after a high tide.)

    Barnacles -with their delicate fronds, barnacles sweep the water for food, but seal up tightly in low tide to preserve moisture. (NOTE: barnacles are relatives of lobsters, crabs, and sand fleas, and will cast off old skin at various intervals in its life to make room for new growth.)

    Anemones - though they look like plants, these creatures consume critters with their deadly tenacles, but can create a "garden" of colour in a tidal pool just like flowers. (NOTE: anemones have digestive enzymes so strong that they can digest the flesh of a small animal in about 15 minutes!)

    And this is only the beginning! Discover this incredible world for yourself and see what wildlife you encounter. And share your discoveries with us!