I lay down on the less than comfortable rocks and stare into a tide pool about one foot deep, three feet wide. Everything else that was on my mind ten minutes before is gone.
I’m staring at a soft shell crab about the size of a quarter as he uses his tiny white claws to pick something that apparently tastes really good off the rocks. He’s just going to town, reminding me of my approach to leftover cookie dough.
The green tentacles of a sea anemone wave ever so slightly in the water.
The hermit crabs scoot across the sand in spurts, and one of them struggles to inch its way up a rock.
Tide pooling for me has the effect of being an active meditation. The moment I become present to how much life is right here in this small pool of water, I instantly become fascinated… like I’m four years old again and I have a bright red fire truck with sirens and lights right in front of me. Before long, this fascination and very “be here now” experience quiets the mind. Every time I walk away feeling very “zen.”
The longer I look, and the more still I become, the more I begin to see. It’s just so easy to become ensconced in this tiny little world before my eyes. Hermit crabs scoot along the sand, so small I can’t even see their legs. It just seems as if shells are just magically moving like something straight out of a cartoon.
The brown sea hare slides with sloth-like speed up the side of a rock, its antenna-like sensors twisting around to pick up on its immediate environment.
Fish dart around so fast they’re almost hard to see. Soft shell crabs peek out from underneath the cover of rocks.
Out of the corner of my eye I see something white. I look up to see an egret scuffling its feet in the sand, stirring up whatever it can find, pecking with its bright yellow beak. Shore life in full effect.
Dike Rock is just one of a handful of great places to explore San Diego’s tide pools located just north of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography pier. You may also find sea stars, a brilliantly bright orange and purple Spanish Shawl, or if you’re lucky, maybe even an octopus.
This is the best time of year to go tide pooling. In addition to brilliant sunsets, winter brings the gift of negative low tides that reveal an abundant world usually hidden from view.
The contrast of life on this micro scale, and what’s beyond the crashing surf is spectacular. After taking in all the sea creatures scooting, sliding, and swimming around beneath me, I raise my gaze just a few feet and consider the vastness of the largest ocean on the planet. And for San Diegans, all of this is right here in a place we call home.