Travel slowly and carefully—for your safety, the safety of the inhabitants, and for the quality of the exploration.
Look at and in and around and under to discover hidden gems. (Be sure to return anything you move back to the way you found it to protect what you just exposed.) What individual species do you notice?
Seek patterns of life—areas where certain organisms are more numerous than they are elsewhere. What communities can you distinguish?
Ask questions to direct your exploration: questions like “Alive or dead?” “Animal or plant?” “One or many?” may seem too simple, but can lead to profound answers. (Start finding some of those surprising answers on the species pages of this website.) If you plan your trip right or maybe just get lucky, you may happen upon an interpretive ranger that can help you answer some of these questions.
Consider the challenges each organism faces—and is facing at this moment. Is the day sunny and warm? Is it raining? What would happen in freezing winter weather?
Recall that the tide will return. What will this spot look like several hours from now at high tide? What will these living things be doing then?
Respect the life here and the precious value it has for all Oregonians: follow proper tidepool etiquette.
When to start?
Since tides vary in height, shallow places are uncovered more often than deeper places. Different organisms live at different levels (called “zones”), depending on who landed where and on each organism’s ability to survive being exposed. More marine life—and more fragile marine life—can be seen during lower tides. (More information on tides, including tide charts.)