by Jack Southard, Lucie Cutler, and Luca Herein

What are the Tidepools?

The tide pools the region on the coast where the waves meet the rocks. Here the tide goes in and out and most life forms who live in the tide pools must be able to survive on land until the tide comes in again. Most tide pools have mild water conditions with lots of rocks and sand. On the lowest tides you can walk out extremely far in some places and observe the unique creatures that live in the tide pools.

What Lives Here?

The tide pools are a truly unique environment with a large variety of vastly different lifeforms living there. Many of its inhabitants attach themselves to the rocks such as Sea Stars, Sea Urchins, Mussels, and Anemones. There are also lots of different types of crabs, snails, sea slugs, small fish, and even octopi that live in the tide pools. Every animal that lives in the tide pools has evolved to deal with the tide. Each of the mentioned organisms are able to survive out of water for hours until the next tide. For example, Anemones shrivel up and store extra water inside of them during low tide while crabs hide in and beneath rocks where it is damp and cool.

Many plants also make the tide pools their home. Some common plants include Sea Potato, Rockweed, Gulfweed, Seapalms, and Giant Kelp. Green, brown, and red Algae also are able to survive in this harsh environment. Plants that live in the tide pools are vital to the ecosystem and the animals would never survive without them. Plants also have to deal with drying out on land, being constantly hammered by waves, and being submerged.

Exploring Oregon's Coastal Tidepools

Biotic and Abiotic Factors of the Tidepools

Tides are an Abiotic factor in tide pools. Because of the shift in tides, the organisms in tide pools are exposed to a wet environment and a dry one. Because of this, most organisms have developed a way to stay in place during these shifts in tide. For example, hermit crabs can bury themselves under rocks to avoid being pulled out to sea, while some marine organisms like barnacles can attach to a rock and stay there.

Tidal pools exist on the shoreline of oceans. Often times there is a meeting between salt water and freshwater environments on these shorelines, affecting the salinity of the tide pool. The amount of freshwater depends on variables such as rain and snow, so there is a constant change in the amount of fresh water found in tide pools. Because of this, organisms in tide pools must be able to tolerate a wide range of salinity.

Moisture affects many of the organisms in the tide pool. There are three different zones in a tide pool; the lower intertidal zone, which is the zone closest to the water, the middle zone, and the upper intertidal zone, which is the zone that is only reached at very high tide. The lower intertidal zone is the zone that gets the most moisture, so this area is populated by organisms that need a lot of moisture to live, such as sea sponges and kelp. Next is the middle zone which has a medium amount of water, so it is populated by organisms such as crabs and shrimp. Then there is the upper intertidal zone, which is only reached at the highest of tides. This means that it can go for weeks without getting water, so it is inhabited by the toughest of marine organisms.

Organisms in tide pools do not have to compete for sunlight, because they are relatively close to the surface. This results in a steady water temperature, and a good place for plants to grow. That is why there’s so much plant life in the lower intertidal zone, there is a steady amount of moisture and a steady amount of sunlight, making the tide pool one of the best places for plants to grow.

Human Impact on the Tidepools

The anthropogenic impact that humans have on tide pools is not good. Often when humans visit tide pools they trample them, causing organisms and intertidal zones to be crushed by humans. Because of the trampling, algae is is lost and worn away, leading to loss of habitat and food source. Another impact humans have on on tide pools is collecting crabs, starfish, and snail. This is bad, because there is a very small chance the animals will survive outside of their habitats. Another effect is pollution. Types of pollution include discarded trash, oil spills, sewage spills, and toxic chemical runoff. Pollution poses as a threat to the tide pools animas and plants. If solution into the ocean and humans keep overfishing, the tide pools will be devastated and may not survive. We must be respectful and try actively to preserve this unique environment.