By Charlotte Owen, WildCall Officer
We all like to be beside the seaside, so much so that most of the Sussex population is concentrated along the coastal strip. Those of us lucky enough to live here can enjoy the many and varied maritime moods throughout the seasons, from steely grey storm clouds to bright blue skies and everything in between. Whether the waves are lapping gently or crashing in a fountain of white spray, there’s always something to see – but take a dip beneath the surface and there is hidden world full of extraordinary sea creatures and magnificent marine landscapes.
If you don’t fancy getting wet, you can explore this world beneath the waves when the tide goes out. Rockpooling is a fantastic activity for people of all ages to discover the fascinating plants and animals that live here. They have to be hardy to survive in a constantly changing environment with fluctuating water temperatures, decreasing oxygen levels and exposure to sunlight for long periods of time, as well as rough treatment from the incoming sea. Look out for swimming shrimp, skulking crabs and starfish clinging to the rocks, alongside whelks, barnacles, urchins and colourful anemones. You might see fish like Goby and Blenny or even a Lobster if you’re lucky.
There are some real gems along the Sussex coast that provide excellent rockpooling opportunities. The towering chalk of the Seven Sisters extends underwater too, with its secret seascape of wave-worn ridges and gullies revealed at low tide. You can also find good rockpooling between Brighton Marina and Rottingdean, and around Worthing Pier. The best places to look are fairly sheltered rocky shores on shingle or sandy beaches, and you could also search around boulders, piers and pontoons, which often contain interesting nooks and crannies for marine wildlife to hide in.
Wherever you decide to go, remember to check the tide times before you set off and remain alert of the changing tides. The best sort of rockpooling means leaving no trace of your visit, so it’s important to leave creatures where you found them. Take a closer look on your next trip to the beach - you never know what you might find.