COMPASS MAGAZINE, September 2005.

The joys of rock-pooling

By Tracy Perkins Translated by Vivian Ko Morano

Rediscover the joys of rock-pooling this summer. You're especially lucky if you know someone age 5 or under to take along with you. Feel the years and your cares slip away as you discover small universes in rock pools no bigger than your bathroom sink. Tempting as it is, leave the nets and buckets behind. It's unlikely that you or your child will ever actually catch any of the quick little fish you'll see, but a single scrape on their skins could leave them vulnerable to oceanic parasites.
Likewise, poking at sea anemones to watch them close may be very amusing (I remember my mother teaching me to do this), but it's no fun for the anemone, which will probably suffer damage as a result. Some species are already on the brink of extinction due to the stress we humans have placed on marine ecosystems. So look, don't touch.

I have found some good pools on the rocks at Bai Sha Wan, but check the phase of the moon and a tide table before you go. The best time for rock-pooling is at full or new moon on the ebbing tide. Plan to arrive at the beach about 2 hours before low tide so that you and your little one will have plenty of time to explore as the tide recedes further and further, but still get back to shore safely before it returns.

Take some time to explore the high-tide mark as well. The high water of full spring tides washes fascinating objects ashore. Don't forget your hat, sunscreen and a pair of lightweight canvas shoes to protect feet against cuts and bumps. Finally, if you really want to show your love for the ocean, take along a garbage bag and pick up any garbage you find as you go.

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