What is a tidepool and its importance?

A tidepool is a pool formed by the tide in the intertidal zone of the sea or ocean. It is also referred to as a rockpool. You can find tidepools in depressions along the rocky shoreline only.

What is a tidepool?

A tidepool is a pool formed by the tide in the intertidal zone of the sea or ocean. It is also referred to as a rockpool. You can find tidepools in depressions along the rocky shoreline only. In the case of sandy beaches or mudflats, beaches you may be disappointed to get such pools, as the tidal waves are a big leveler no pool can exist on those surfaces.

The pools formed by tide are not so big, however, their size is enough to be seen as pools but not big as swimming pools. The depth may vary from a few centimeters to a few meters. During high tide, the pools are indented by saline water and exposed to air once the tidewater recedes leaving water and many marine lives trapped in the pools.

Image of a tidepool/ image credit/

Where do the tidepools form?

Tidepools may be formed in any of the four intertidal zones, such as splash zone, upper intertidal zone, middle intertidal zone, and low zone. Basically depends on topography and the nature of the sea and wave conditions.

What you can find in tidepools?

Tidepools are part of the coastal ecosystem and you can find many marine species of flora and fauna in the pools. However, the species may differ according to the coastline. The species can live out of water for a long period if they are sufficiently moist and out of sunlight.

Tidepool Marine Flora:

You can commonly find many types of seaweeds like green algae in the pools, including sea lettuce, gutweed, or hallow green weeds, dead man’s finger,( dark green algae,) rockweed, and sea palms( brown algae). Species-specific seagrass, red algae, phytoplankton, and other algae are found in the pools.

Tidepool Fauna:

Many animal species like barnacles, isopods, gastropods, amphipods, blue mussels, limpets, periwinkle, sea anemones, sea slugs, sea stars, sea urchins, and fishes of different species, snails, blue mussels, lobsters, shrimp, etc. can be found in pools. Further sponges, octopuses, sea stars or starfish, and echinoderms are very common in the above pools. Sea stars and sponges may vary in size.

Small fish species like sculpins, opaleye, and other unspecified groups are also witnessed. Crab species such as hermit crabs, stripes shore crabs, rock crabs, and Asian shore crabs may be found in specific pools.

Tidepool ecosystem:

All the plants and animals of the tidepool constitute the ecosystem. Animals like anemones typically spend their lives in one place in colonies of the same species. They host the algae that live inside their bodies. The bright-colored algae give a bright color to the anemone’s colonies. It is interesting to know that all the members of the colony are genetically identical with common DNA.

Anemones have a very dependable relationship with algae. The algae provide nutrients and oxygen produces by photosynthesis to anemones and in turn, they (anemones) provide algae protection and create opportunities for their exposure to sunlight for cooking food.

Anemones are predators that have tentacles to catch prey on plankton, aquatic insects, etc. They are considered close relatives of coral and jellyfish. When they open their dome-shaped mouth, appear like flowers.

Fish like sculpins are predators and catch the isopods, amphipods, barnacles, polychaetes, etc.

How do the tidepool animals face challenges?

The pool animals may be broadly categorized into three groups on the basis of their physical structures and capabilities to handle the ensuing dangers. Such as shell-bearing, clinging, and hiding animals.

Shell bearing:

Some creatures are found in nature with protective shells. You can find fauna like snails, barnacles, and mussels with protective hard shells. At the time of danger, they squeeze themselves into their shells. The barnacles live in colonies on hard surfaces. Crabs, lobsters, and shrimps have exoskeletons to protect and hide.

Image of barnacle colony/ image credit
Clinging creatures:

Some animals of the tidepools are intelligent and save themselves by clinging to rocks and seaweeds. Such creatures are sea urchins and starfish etc. By clinging to the hard surfaces and weeds, they try not to wash away by tidal waves.

Hiding animals:

Some creatures get themselves hide in the mud or earth or behind rocks to survive. Urchin uses weeds or rocks for the purpose by their spines. Crabs and sculpins bury the whole body in mud/sand to escape predators. The octopus-like animals change their color anticipating danger.


Tidepools are very important landscapes in intertidal zone ecosystems. Many marine species are trapped in the pools after the high tides are receded. Most of the animals and plants like anemones, algae, barnacles, and sculpins settle in the tidepools permanently. Some have a location-specific settlement and maintain the ecosystem naturally.


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1 Comment

  • November 20, 2022 at 10:01 pm
    Sahu babu

    Sir very interesting topic. I know for the first time.


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