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Best Tide Pools in Orange County

There are four distinct tide pool location Crystal Cove State Park. The northern most area is called Pelican Point. This area has a large flat tide pool area with lots of smaller shallow pools that are easy to walk in and see the marine life. There are plenty of barnacles and mussels to see along with animals that prefer calmer waters. The better tide pool location is further south near the Reef point and Rocky Bight areas. There are larger rocks that are more exposed wave action. These location are preferred by gooseneck barnacles, tube worms, sea anemones and lots more. There are numerous smaller pools that provide perfect habitat for all kinds of marine life. The area is relatively easy to walk on but watch your step as the area is covered with marine life.
Tidepools at Reef Point location Tidepools at Reef Point location at medium tide Pathway leading to the Reef Point tidepool area Aggregating Sea Anemones covering rock surfaces Close up of Aggregating Sea Anemones covering rock surfaces Chiton on exposed rock with algae Pool of water with seagrass and aggregating Sea Anemones on side Rock showing good zonation of species Gooseneck Barnacles with mussels Group of Ochre sea stars feeding on mussels Opened clam Mussel and Barnacle covered rocks Hopkins Rose Nudibranch Solitary Sea Anemone in shallow pool of water Rock with groups of aggregating sea anemones, mussels and a variety of barnacles
Shaws Cove tide pools are amazing in the variety of marine life and ease of access. Parking can be challenging but worth the wait. This location has two of the three common tide pool types, flat bench areas and rocky areas with large surge channels. The section to the south is a large flat area that supports huge amounts of mussels, barnacles, really large sea anemones and urchins. The smaller pools are usually filled with small juvenile fish darting about. It is just a short walk to the tide pool areas both north and south of the staircase. Look for the massive tube work colonies located at the base of the surge channels on the norther tide pool area.
Northern tidepools at Shaws Cove Southern tidepools at Shaws Cove Sea stars at edge of mussel bed Sea stars feeding on mussles Sea anemone closed up at low tide Low tide exposes sea stars and red algae Looking at the northern tidepool bench from the southern area Assorted barnacles growing on large mussels Kelp snails can be found in the lower tidal areas Various mussels, barnacles and limpets cover most all the rocks Northern tidepool area has lots of channels and larger pools Snails congregate in cracks during low tide Pool containing large sea anemones, urchins, sponges and sea stars Channel filled with thousands of mussel shells Sand Castle worms covering the lower part of the channels
The tide pools at Treasure Island and Goff Island are great places to see huge numbers of sea urchins. The deep pools at these locations have hundreds of purple and a few red sea urchins. There are public restrooms in the resort area on the top of the cliff. There are also has lots of mussels, barnacles, sea anemones and lots of shore crabs. The small bays have crystal clear blue water that looks like a tropical paradise. This area is quite popular and one low tide days, there are volunteers to help with questions about the tide pool life.
Looking north toward Goff Island Looking south toward Aliso Beach Part of Treasure Island tidepool area Goff Island from upper pathway Large Owl Limpet with smaller Acorn Barnacles Large pool with hundreds of urchins Bright orange sponge Various seaweed and mussels Gooseneck Barnacles and red algae Orange, Brown and Purple sea stars on mussel bed Ochre sea stars in tidepool Thousands of mussel shells Recent lobster shell molt Tube snails and red algae Sea Stars, Urchins and anemones in tidepool
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