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Tide Pool Life

A whole host of fascinating plants and animals survive in this rugged, changing seascape. As the ocean water retreats at low tide, marine life must withstand hours exposed to the air or in shallow pools. At high tide, animals and plants must survive waves rolling in or crashing down. All must find food and protect themselves from predators.

To keep from drying out at low tide…

Turban snails draw into their shells and shut their doors.
Mussels close up tight to hold in water.
Giant green anemones fold in their tentacles and stick tiny shells on their bodies.
Sea slugs hide under moist rocks or seaweed.

To protect from crashing waves at high tide…

Limpets hold tight with a strong, muscular foot.
Sea stars stick to rocks with hundreds of suction-cup tube feet.
Acorn barnacles anchor themselves to rocks with glue.
Seaweeds cling with their strong holdfasts.

To avoid being eaten…

Sea urchins have spines.
Tidepool sculpins can change color and pattern to match their surroundings.
A decorator crab attaches tiny animals to its back so it's practically invisible.
Shore crabs hide under rocks.

To catch food…

Gooseneck barnacles sweep the water with their feathery legs to catch plankton.
Aggregating anemones use their tentacles to sting and paralyze prey.
Bat stars stick their stomachs and digestive juices over their food to liquefy it.
An abalone clamps down on drifting seaweed with its muscular foot.
Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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