The Education Table sits adjacent to the TPERP trailer. It is built from leftover wood donated by the Maritime Museum after building a replica of the San Salvador, Cabrillo’s ship. The table contains interpretive models of items found in the tidepools. Next to the table is a box that houses whale bones from a baleen whale. The scapulas (shoulder blades) of this whale are mounted on posts in the immediate vicinity. In front of these items is an interpretive kiosk, which explains the rules of the tidepools and how to best explore them with safety for visitors and animals in mind.
The Education table has two bins with sand and many plastic models of seaweed, sea mammals, shells, anemones, crabs, sea stars and other plants and animals typically found in the Cabrillo tidepools. A tide calendar and other interpretive charts and books are also there. Visitors, particularly children, are encouraged to interact with the models and ask questions. This interactive time presents the volunteer with a rich opportunity to provide information about the tidepools, tides, and the flora and fauna to be discovered. It is also a good time to remind visitors about the rules and safety of the tidepools. It is particularly important to remind visitors about how slippery the area is, to stay away from edges and to emphasize the prohibition of collecting. The volunteer can also describe the proper way to interact with living creatures.
The types of whale bones vary, but in addition to the scapulas there are vertebrae and rib bones. There is also a large chunk of baleen. Using the baleen or bones, the volunteer can relay information about baleen whales, particularly the Gray Whale that migrates past Cabrillo from November through February.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s a tidepool?
Well, here on the tide calendar you see we have two high tides and two low tides every day. If the low tide is about .7 feet or lower, the water has receded far enough for very good exploring. (Show photo of low tide): You can see in this photo the rocky intertidal area that’s uncovered when the tide is that low. These rocks and boulders form pools and that’s where these animals live.
How high is the highest high tide here?
If you look on the tide calendar, it’s about a maximum of 7 feet for the high and an extreme low of about minus 2 feet. About a 9-foot swing.
Is now a good time to see the tidepools? I checked and the low tide is at 1:38.
That’s right but it is only a 1.7-foot low tide when we check the calendar. We say that good tidepool conditions are at .7 feet or lower. Here you can see this photo of a negative low tide and how far out the water recedes. You can really get out there and explore. We have the full moon next week, so the tides will be extreme during the few days before and after. On this tide calendar you can see how far the tide dips down then.
What’s the water temperature?
It’s about 68 degrees. This summer it was in the 80s and in February or so it’ll be in the 50s.
Will the tide be better tomorrow?
You see tomorrow, Sunday the 21st, the low tide is 1.4 feet at 2:20 in the afternoon. We say a low tide of .7 feet or lower is best for good tidepool exposure. So tomorrow won’t be much better than today. On Wednesday we have the full moon so the tides will be more extreme around that day. We get the highest highs and the lowest lows on full moons and new moons.
Do you live in that trailer?
No, the trailer is just used for storage.
When I was a kid, we used to ride our bikes down here and get abalone.
Well this area is now a Marine Protected Area. So, there is no taking of anything from here. Abalone are rare in the tidepools now. You can still ride your bike down but going back up would be the hard part for me.
Dude, what’s that Surf break?
There are two breaks right here. That one on the right is Doughnuts and that one over there is Dolphin Tanks. Both are mainly winter breaks. For the summer south swell Ralph’s is at the end of the point. Surfers need to enter and exit the area by boat since this is a Marine Protected Area.
What are the islands out there?
Those are the Coronado Islands. They are in Mexican waters about 12 miles off the coast. They are uninhabited but there are cell phone towers and a bird sanctuary on them. So, if you have a cell phone down here the service may be coming from there. So welcome abroad and roaming charges and all that.
How can I volunteer?
Let me get a business card for the park’s volunteer coordinator. There are many different opportunities here in the tidepools. We have this education table, and seasonal low tide shifts, and year-round roving along the Coastal Trail. Other opportunities include the historic lighthouse, military history, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, and many other areas. Here’s the card with point of contact information.
What causes the holes in the rocks?
Most of the holes are caused by boring clams, as in “making holes in things,” not as in “uninteresting.”
Why do the tidepools close so early?
We close this area at 4:30 to allow time to get back up to the top area which closes at 5:00. This area is patrolled by the Navy, and they set the rules.
How can tides be negative?
The tide calendars average the mean low water mark over an 18-year period. At any given time, the height of the tide could be higher, lower, or equal to the average, which is considered 0.0. The 18-year cycle is how long it takes for the moon and earth to be in the same positions and angle.
Last revised 13-Nov-21