Life In the Intertidal

Cabrillo BannerLife in the Rocky Intertidal Zone


Low Tide
Low Tide

Tidepools provide a home for many animals. They are created by the changing water level, or tides. The high energy waves makes this a harsh habitat, but the animals living here have adapted over time. When the earth, sun and moon align during the full and new moon we have extreme high and low tides. Generally, there are two high tides and two low tides a day. An example of low and high tide is seen on the right.

High Tide
High Tide

There are three zones within the tidepools. The high zone, the middle zone, and the low zone. The process of evolution has determined where the animals can live and thrive. The tidepools at Cabrillo are protected and have been monitored by the National Park Service since 1990. You may notice bolts in the rocky intertidal, these are used to assist scientists in gathering data to monitor changes.

Tidepool Etiquette:

Human impact can hurt the animalsSome animals may die if moved even a few inches from where they are found. Federal law prohibits collection and removal of any shells, rocks and marine specimens. Also, be aware of the changing tides, slippery rocks and unstable cliffs.

Have fun exploring!


*Photos are not to scale.


The best time to visit the tidepools is during the new or full moon; a negative low tide is recommended for the best exploring.

If you are interested in learning more, visit the tidepool education table or volunteer to help protect this unique and beautiful place.

For volunteer opportunities contact:

This brochure was made possible through the work of Katie Eskridge, a Girl Scout who used the tidepools as the subject for her Gold Award Project .


Last revised 15-Sep-15