Rockpooling Checklist

11th October 2019

Top tips for rockpooling in Cornwall.

Your Beach Retreats guide to all there is to know about rockpooling in Cornwall.

family rockpooling



When to go

You can rockpool all year round in Cornwall. Wrap up in winter and pick a sheltered shore, or visit in summer when marine life is flourishing.


Where to go

Watergate Bay, Porth and Whipsiderry, Newtrain Bay near Trevone and Trevaunance Cove in St Agnes are all great spots for rockpooling, but any beach with a rocky shoreline is good. Our harbours are also brilliant for crabbing.


Check the weather

The best rockpooling happens on calm, sunny days at low tide when parts of the shore normally covered in water are exposed. Plan your visit by checking a local tide table online and move inland as the tide pushes in.


What to pack

Many people think you need a net to go rockpooling, but you don’t. One of the best ways to enjoy the shore is to peer into a rockpool and wait. With patience you’ll be treated to a natural display of the fascinating and tough creatures that live here. If you do use a bucket be careful not to overcrowd it with creatures. They can overheat and run out of oxygen.


family on the rocks



Follow the seashore code

    • Respect the seashore creatures, handle them as little as possible and always put them back where you find them.


    • Take photos home, not animals.


    • Put overturned rocks back carefully as you found them.


    • Take any rubbish home with you.


    • Keep safe on the seashore, check the tides and keep away from the cliffs and waves.


Top Tips

Look for a shore with small rocks covered in seaweed and start by investigating underneath the water’s surface. Lift the rocks carefully and you may find crabs, cushion starfish and even snake pipefish and Cornish sucker fish.


Watch your fingers

Take care when picking up crabs! If you do want to handle one, use your index finger and hold it down by pressing onto the center of its shell – you’ll have plenty of time to get your fingers around the sides behind the claws. Grip it firmly. You’re less likely to get pinched holding a crab like this. Don’t be tempted to pick up a crab by putting one finger underneath.

Once you have understood all the above, you’re ready to begin your rockpooling checklist. Here are 10 creatures to look out for.

    1. Cornish Sucker Fish -Look under rocks in pools close to the shore. It has modified fins that act like a suction pad.


    1. Broad Clawed Porcelain Crab – A small hairy crab that lives upside down beneath rocks on the low-tide shoreline.


    1. Worm Pipefish – Related to the seahorse this worm-like creature is actually a fish


    1. Snakelocks Anemome – Don’t be fooled by its pretty fluorescent-tipped stinging tentacles – it’s a carnivorous predator.


    1. Common Shore Crab – These small shore crabs have incredible colours which they lose as they grow older.


    1. Star Ascidian – Beautiful, small and squidgy star-shaped sea squirt colonies found on the rocks and seaweed.


    1. Montagu’s Blenny – A small warm-water fish with a cockatoo crest on its head.


    1. Celtic Sea Slug – Also known as a liquorice sea slug, it is often found on the rocks between Holywell and Polzeath.


    1. Blue Rayed Limpet – A tiny but beautiful limpet that only lives on seaweed – not rocks.


    1. Giant Goby – Only found in the south, they can grow up to 29cm in length. If you find one please put it back and report it to Cornwall Wildlife Trust – they are a protected species.

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