by Paula Watkins
Painter and poet John Dyer once reflected that the most amazing thing about the sea is the tide. ‘A harbor like St. Ives is totally transformed in a very short space of time by the arrival or departure of the sea,’ he said. St. Ives is a beach in the South West part of England, but this is true observation is just as true of any coastline in the world. The seaside is completely transformed when it is pulled back and spectators are able to view and enjoy the tide pools that appear.
We all love to peer into tide pools, also called intertidal areas. These pools are fascinating, tiny worlds unto themselves that lay at our feet once the waters have receded.
Unfortunately, people sometimes love the tide pools so much that in their enthusiasm they mistreat or deplete the richness of the tide pools by scraping or pulling at the organisms attached to them, or by taking pieces like shells, rocks, or animals.
However, law prohibits the collection of any animals, plants, or even empty shells from state or national parks or in regional reserves and, since people have always harvested animals and plants from tide pools for food or for bait and they still do today, California’s Department of Fish and Game prohibits the collection of live molluscs without a valid fishing license.
Laws prohibit removing items from the pools, but that’s not the only reason for collection for leaving them as they are.
With human populations continuing to rise in coastal areas, more people live near and have access to tide pool areas, and their activities can cause damage to the health of plants and animals in these habitats.
The sustainable way to enjoy tide pools is to take photos of its wildlife, shells, and rocks, rather than removing them.
Tips for Photographing Tide Pools
Be Patient. Professional photographers all agree that patience and passion are part of their job description. At times, the motion of water or wind will create ripples that are problematic for taking a clear photo. Bearing in mind that you don’t have all day (eventually the tide will come in), expect to invest some time getting the right shot in the right conditions. Remember that good photographs are occasionally the result of snapping a “lucky shot”, but more often photographs take diligence and practice to truly come out great.
Bring the right gear with you. First off all, be sure to wear sensible shoes. They should have a good grip on the bottom to help you when making your way over wet, slippery rocks. The last thing you want to do is fall and hurt yourself (or break your camera).
For the sharpest shots, use a tripod to stabilize your camera, a polarizing filter to help minimize reflections off the water, and a diffuser for your flash if you use it. Also, don’t forget to bring a soft cloth or chamois to wipe off your lens if it gets wet. Finally, be sure to charge up your batteries and empty your SD card so that you have plenty of space to store your photos.
Learn before you go. Do a bit of research before setting out. If you learn the names of the animals you might see, you will enjoy the experience that much more. However, if you don’t have the time to do all the research before you go, there are plenty of wildlife tours up and down the coast that will take you to tide pools and acquaint you with their ins and outs.
Wildlife Tours in Laguna Beach
Companies such as Laguna Outdoors offer tide pools tours. Many tour providers will transport you from your hotel if you are not a resident of the area. Crystal Cove State Park regularly gives afternoon guided tours of tide pools in which they point out the names and behaviors of tide pool animals. For the very artistically oriented, the Laguna Outreach for Community Arts has a unique program that incorporates viewing tide pools and watercolor journaling. For more information on their workshops, click here.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy tide pools without removing any pieces of them. The best part is that with your photographs and artwork, you’ll still have a souvenir of the experience to keep for years to come.
Paula Watkins is a freelance writer from England. She loves to write about the beautiful places of the world and unique places to visit covering everything from Caribbean cruise deals to Laguna Beach.