The tidepool education table is a brand new visitor contact station located near the entrance to the tidepool trail. Rangers and park volunteers spent countless hours planning, preparing and building a physical space for education and interpretation of this precious natural resource, which continues to face many challenges.
One of the greatest threats to this rare habitat comes from humans. The lower, west, coastal side of the park is visited by 215,000 people per year and every footstep on the sensitive algal turf can cause negative impacts. The removal of animals, shells and rocks is also very damaging to the environment. Providing education to park visitors is one of several methods the National Park Service uses to ensure habitats are protected, for the enjoyment of future generations. An emphasis is placed on proper exploration techniques and animal identification. The education table is a great step forward in this effort.
The coastal area of the park is most visited in July and August, even though the tidepools remain mostly submerged during the summer season. The best time to see intertidal life is October through April, with a seasonal peak during the winter months. Despite the difficulty in seeing tidepools during the summer, this area of the park remains a first stop for many visitors. It’s hoped the education table will enhance the visitor experience in the area by providing general information about the entire park. Plans are in the works for summer educational themes, including plants, terrestrial wildlife, geology and tidal explanations. Other upcoming improvements in the area will include new waysides, or educational exhibits in the kiosk, as well as along the coastal trail. A native plant restoration project is also underway.
The tidepool education table is part of a larger program called the Tidepool Protection Education and Restoration Program, also known as T-PERP. It began in 1996 and features a cadre of volunteers, dedicated to educational efforts during low-tide shifts. Scientific park data show improvements in park species and habitat since the creation of this program. Now that the program is expanding into the summer, there’s an even greater need for new volunteers. Recruitment is ongoing. Anyone interested should contact Ranger Bonnie Phillips at 619-523-4586, or email Bonnie_Phillips@nps.gov