Tide Pool Survival

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In this activity, learners observe tide pool animals in a touch tank to consider how they survive. Questions are provided to introduce physical (non-living) and biological factors that put these animals at risk, including salinity changes (how salty the water is), drying out, crashing waves, competition for space, and protection from predators. Additional background is provided about tides, waves, and types of rocks the animals attach to. The activity is written for use in an aquarium or museum, but could be done anywhere, including actual tide pools.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 11

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Plastic tubs large enough to hold 2-3 different animals
  • Seawater
  • Aerator and pump
  • Tide pool animals such as a sea star, turban snail, and/or sea cucumber
  • Towels for drying hands
  • Picture tiles or drawings of physical and biological factors at the rocky seashore: low tide/high tide, waves, wind, sun, air, predators, people etc.
  • Picture or poster of tide pools at the rocky seashore
  • Hand lenses for examining organisms
  • Butcher Paper or wipe boards
  • Markers
  • Books about the rocky seashore


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
      • Tides
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Formulating Explanations

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Birch Aquarium at Scripps, 2009

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, NSF OCE-0731338