What will you find?

Rock pooling in Cornwall

Going rock pooling is brilliant fun, and lots of the beaches close to The Esplanade offer the opportunity to explore these exciting little pools – we recommend Tolcarne Beach and Holywell Bay Beach for starters.

At first glance the pools may appear quiet – maybe a small fish darting into a crevice but not much else. However, wait quietly and the creatures of the rockpool will emerge from their hiding places and go about their business. A pool that looked fairly empty can become a little hive of activity in no time!

  • What you'll need
    • A bucket - a clear one would be best
    • An identification guide
    • Sensible and clothing and footwear – trainers are recommended
    • Sun protection (always!)
    • Small net, to be used only to catch fast swimming fish
  • Getting started

    Make sure the tide is low - the lower the tide the better the pools!

    Choose a pool small enough for you to reach into the middle with your arm or net without stretching.

    Stay near the edge, but don't stand in the water – you’ll disturb all the creatures! Try not to cast your shadow over the pool or the creatures will hide away. First, just look into the pool. Be as still and as quiet as you can.

    Fill your clear bucket with some seawater (from a pool would be good) and then place it somewhere safe and sturdy beside you. You can then place any creatures you catch in the bucket to take a closer look.

    Wait quietly…

    Most small animals can be safely picked out by hand if you are very careful and gentle; otherwise, your net may come in handy. You must do your best not to poke or jab the creatures you find, they will be very nervous.

    Put one creature at a time into your bucket, having more than one creature in your bucket may upset them. Once you have looked at a creature pop it right back where you found it.

    Push aside seaweed and very carefully lift up rocks to look for creatures underneath. Do not pull up and drag creatures out of crevices or remove those that are stuck to rocks.

    When you are finished... make sure you return everything to where you found it, put seawater back in the pool, and replace any rocks that you overturned.

  • What to look for

    Tompot Blenny - distinctive red eyes and red tentacles stick out from its head - like a stylish hat!

    Pipefish - as the names suggests, this fish is long and thin and like seahorses, the male pipefish carries the young in his brooding pouch.

    Velvet Swimming Crabs - these crabs have bright red eyes. Their legs, claws and shells are covered in a fur which feels like velvet - hence their name. Handle these bad boys with care - they can be a bit feisty!

    Common Prawn - so transparent you can see all their internal organs as they dart around the water in unusual spasms - these are quite funny to watch!

    Snake-locks Anemone - bright green with purple tips, this stunning creature has a sting in its tail; its tentacles are used to stun passing fish. Top points if you find one of these!

  • Please remember

    Rock pooling is excellent fun, and very rewarding, but please be careful and remember to:

    Be careful on the the shore at all times; make sure you don't get caught out by the tide - look for tide times on the internet, buy a tide timetable from your local newsagents or call the local Tourist Information Centre.

    Keep away from the bottom of the cliffs and soft mud or quicksand areas.

    Wash your hands straight after rock pooling.

    Show respect for seashore creatures: Handle them as little as possible and always put them back where you found them.

    Take your rubbish home with you: Beach rubbish is nasty and can be dangerous to sea creatures.

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