Coombe Farm’s Guide to Cornish Rock-Pooling

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The picture above is a pre-school trip that Ella’s class went on at Widemouth Bay.

Top Tips

  • Check the tide before you head out, and hour or two before low tide is best
  • Head for the lower shore, as near to the sea as you can get, then work your way back if the tide come in
  • Look in wet, cool places, slowly moving rocks and seaweed (then replace later if you can).
  • Keep still and just look, let yourself really take it in, and you’ll spot lots more.

What you might spot

Velvet Swimming Crab. Easily identified by it’s bright red eyes this crab is quick to attack so watch your fingers!  It’s legs are covered in dark hairs, giving it a velvet feel, and it’s name. The legs also have bright blue bands on.

Snakelocks Anemone. The tentacles are bright or olive green with purple tips and cannot be retracted. It uses them to stun fish swimming past. They are often live in groups.

Tompot Blenny. This shallow water fish with an odd name has striking red eyes and red tentacles. They can grow up to 30cm, though smaller ones are likely to be found in rock pools.

Rock Goby Fish. This fish is black with white splodges and does not have scales on it’s neck. The first dorsal fin has a pale stripe on it.

Pipefish. These little fish are long and thin like… pipes! They basically look like long straight seahorses. They have a dorsal fin, and like the shelter of rock pools as they find it hard to swim in open water.

Common Prawn. These well known swimming crustaceans are a transparent pinky brown colour. They like to live in the seaweed and can live up to 7 years. 

Where is good to have a go?

Duckpool Beach, near Bude. This wild and rugged location is dominated by Steeple Point Cliffs which tower over the this pebble beach. At the far end large crabs can be found lurking in the numerous rock pools. This beach is generally less busy and a great spot to get back to nature.

Hannafore Beach, Looe, South Coast. This beach in Looe comes highly recommended for rock pooling. At the top of the path, above the toilets, walk down the path. Leading off the beach towards Looe Island is a concrete path, follow it down onto the rocky shore, and then you are ready for action.

Port Isaac Harbour Beach. This busy port is famous for it’s lobster, crabs and fish. Why not check out what sea creatures you can find in this area rich in marine life. 

Treyarnon Bay Beach, Padstow. This spot is definitely worth checking out if you love hunting for creatures that dwell in these temporary worlds between tides.  A wide open bay where low tide reveals large rock pools.

Widemouth Bay, Bude. We frequently examine the rock pool wildlife when the tide is out. This wide beach has amazing diversity, and is easily accessed.

Sometimes guided expeditions are available.

The Seaside Code

  • Wear suitable footwear as rocks can be slippery and sharp
  • If you decide to take a few shells home, make sure there is nothing living in them
  • Try not to remove seaweed from rocks has it can take years to grow
  • Be aware that some creatures sting and crabs might pinch
  • Keep an eye on what the tide is doing
  • Have lots of fun!

Check out North Cornwall’s Beaches