El Matador State Beach northern tidepool area

El Matador State Beach Tide Pools

This State Beach is well known for several large monoliths ( large rock formations with shear sides that are perpendicular to the beach ) located in the tidal zone. These monoliths have lots of marine life and easily accessible at low tide. The beach and tidepool area is located at the base of steep cliffs. This area also has a larger boulder field that provides great habitat for mussels, red and brown alga, barnacles, the occasional sea star, sea hare and lots more. The rock monoliths provide a good view of the variety of marine life in the different tidal zones. The boulders are covered by red algae and have large Chitons and colonies of aggregating sea anemones.
El Matador State Beach northern tidepool area Stair case leading to beach One of the large rock monoliths The monoliths are home to a variety of life Mussels, barnacles and sea anemones cover many of the rocks Mussels and barnacles on the monolith on the ocean side Sea star, anemone, red algae are present on this rock. Sea start is small, brown next to anemone in this picture. Example of boulder field Animal and plant zones can be seen on many  of the rocks The bare spots are grazed over by large Owl limpets Large colonies of aggregating anemones covered with bits of shell are common on the larger boulders. Large Chitons can be seen in many places Solitaire sea anemones are common in the flat, less exposed portions of the tidal zone Red algae is abundant in the tidepools There is at least seven different animals in this picture.

Location, Parking and Amenities

Access to the state beach is by a small road from Pacific Coast Highway. This access road is marked by a brown and yellow sign that is easily missed if the driver is not aware of the location. Follow the small road down to the parking area. This is a self service fee area and is monitored frequently. There are portable restrooms located in the parking area.

Tide Pool Access

Access to the tidepool area is by a dirt path that winds down the very steep cliffs. The dirt path ends in a staircase that provides access to the beach. There are two tidepool areas, one the north and one to the south. Both areas have similar marine life. The northern area is larger in size and has more habitats for marine life. The southern part has more pools and algae covered boulders.

Points of Interest

The first location a visitor should visit is the large monolith near the staircase. The ocean facing part has large amounts of mussels and barnacles. Walk around this rock formation and explore the passages in the interior. Also explore the boulders around the monolith as they are also covered with masses of mussels, barnacles and limpets.

The tidepool areas to the north and south are boulder fields that have large and small pools of water. These pools of water have lots of snails, sea anemones and other marine life. The rocks are mostly covered by algae that make walking in this area treacherous at best.

The larger rocks and boulders have marine life representative of all the different tidal zones. These range from the lower tidal zones where algae and anemones are dominant. The mid zones have lots of mussels, chitons, limpets and barnacles. The upper parts of the rocks have smaller barnacles, snails and smaller limpets.
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