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Tidepools, seaside neighborhoods

Take a walk on the beach and while there take time to explore the tide pools, those little ponds of sea water left behind by the retreating tides. Have a look ans you will find yourself gazing into some of the most intriguing neighborhoods of the ocean. A wide array of creatures call tide pools home. Residing within most are sea grasses, algae, sea stars, chitons, barnacles and algae.

These are some of the worlds most adaptable creatures. Imagine yourself struggling to survive in an area which is alternately drenched and then left dry, once or twice a day.

No two tide pools are exactly the same, so you can walk from one to another and find new delights. The life forms in any tide pool will depend upon its location , size and depth. A tide pool found high on a rocky wall will usually be the least inhabited, while tide pools on a flat area will be bustling with activity, small pools will support only a small number of inhabitants, larger pools can offer greater variety. The depth of the pool also influences the residents. A deep pool is not likely to have good circulation, allowing the salt water to accumulate in the deepest part of the basin. Shallow pools have to contend with greater temperature swings, as shallow water will heat up faster. Warm water also holds less oxygen so a shallow pool may quickly use up its oxygen supply.

Pools in the middle of a tidal zone tend to be the most satisfying to explore, as they are more likely to be rich in plant and animal inhabitants. Don't see anything happening? Gently, turn over a rock and watch tiny crabs scurry to find a new hiding place.

You may find yourself in the company of shore birds, such as the ruddy turnstone, who as its name suggests, turns stones to search for food.

So head to the beach and explore a new neighborhood or two. Just remember to replace any stones you may move.