Get up close with marine life at Birch Aquarium's Tide Pool display

Tide-Pool Display

Explore Preuss Tide-Pool Plaza, featuring three, living tide-pool displays where visitors can touch and learn about tide-pool animals with docents. Windows in the habitats provide up-close views of brilliant seastars, hermit crabs, sea cucumbers, lobsters, and other unique animals local to San Diego's tide pools.
Preuss Tide Pool Plaza overlooks La Jolla and the Pacific Ocean, a stunning location where guests can enjoy the invigorating coastal winds and panoramic ocean views while learning about nearshore environments.

Life on the Edge (of Land and Sea)

Imagine a habitat where temperatures soar and dip wildly within hours; where the sun shines so brightly-that were it not for the bits of shells attached to delicate skin or the rocky overhang providing shade-the resident animal may dry to a crisp. This same habitat will be flooded twice daily and is not only vulnerable to the forces of wind, waves, water, and sun-it is the exploring ground of beachgoers who poke and pry. Hungry birds and bigger fish may take a toll if human curiosity doesn't. For the tide-pool creatures that have adapted to this harsh environment, it's "life on the edge."

The variety of animals along the strip of shoreline alternately covered and uncovered by the changing tides is delightful. Hairy hermit crabs, willowy sea anemones, yawning barnacles, and perhaps even a two-spot octopus are a few of the many species that might be discovered in the nooks and crannies of tide pools. Many of these creatures shelter under rocks or bury themselves in the sand; some use their camouflage to hide in plain sight. Like a hidden puzzle, tide pools must be examined carefully to reveal their treasures.

Our Tidepooling Programs

The coming and going of tides is orchestrated by the gravitational pulls of the sun and moon. From late fall to early spring in southern California, minus tides (tides that recede below zero tide level) occur in daylight hours. Birch Aquarium naturalists lead winter tidepooling excursions. Find out more about our tidepooling programs here.

Tide Pool Etiquette

Most tide pools in San Diego County are protected from collecting by law. Seashells, rocks, sand, and plants are home to many animals. If you go without a guide, please observe tide-pool etiquette.
* Be mindful of where you step.
* If you pick up a rock, replace it as you found it.
* Be gentle and try to forego touching, observing an animal's natural behavior instead. Animals with protective mucus layers and delicate tissues are easily damaged by touching.
* Photography, sketches, and field notes are excellent and creative ways to remember the organisms that inspired you.

These interactive displays were made possible by the family and friends of Alex Szekely in his memory. Mr. Szekely was a longtime friend and supporter of Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
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