Natural La Jolla: Winter tidepooling is a great family activity


— Tip: The lowest tide is predicted to occur at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 22, 2014.

When I was a little girl, I lived beside the sea along a rocky coastline. Many happy hours were spent on the beach across the street from my house, examining the creatures that were living in the tidepools and hiding under rocks. I loved to see what they looked like, where they went and how they “made their living.” When you are concentrating on what’s before you, and taking in the salty fresh air, time seems to slip away.

At this time of year, in the late afternoon sunlight, tides are at some of their lowest levels all year and this makes for great tidepooling. Some of the more common animals you may find include seastars, turban snails, limpets, mussels, barnacles, chitons, anemones, crabs and seaweed.

The next opportunity for good tidepooling in La Jolla should be the few days before the Christmas holiday. The lowest tide is predicted to be on Monday, Dec. 22, about 3:30 in the afternoon. If you do venture out, be careful to leave creatures where you found them and take care when you are walking around on the rocks; some of the animals will have closed up until the tide rises and it’s sometimes hard to distinguish creatures from rocks.

— Kelly Stewart is a marine biologist with The Ocean Foundation, working with NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla. Her “Natural La Jolla” column about the flora and fauna of La Jolla appears second Thursdays in La Jolla Light. She may be reached at