Copyright 2001-2012, California Science Center

Rocky Shore

Exploring life up close at the Rocky ShoreYou might think rocky shore life is a beach. But plants and animals there often deal with pounding waves, constant fights for space and hot, dry hours out of water. Over time, living things on the rocky shore have adapted to cope with these extremes. Come discover how life fits in on the rocky shore. This exhibit features live animals like sea stars, anemones, sea urchins, limpets and more!

Exhibit Highlights

Touch tank image © Tracie Spence PhotographyTouch tank

Get a closer look at lots of rocky shore organisms such as sea stars, limpets, sea urchins, anemones and more. Is that crazy creature a plant or an animal—or neither? How does it eat? A friendly Science Center educator will be on hand to answer your questions as you peer into the touch tank, or even reach out and touch a sea creature or two.

Be a Barnacle gameBe a barnacle

On the rocky shore, many organisms are stuck to the rocks to keep from being washed away by the waves, so they have to snag their food as it floats by. Some grab a meal with their legs, and others by filtering the water. See how it feels to be a barnacle as you try to catch ping-pong "prey" in this fun interactive exhibit.

Alvin HOVStanding up to waves

Rocky shore organisms have adapted lots of different ways to hang on in the waves. Seaweeds hook on, barnacles and limpets stick with special glue, sea stars and abalone grab on with suction cups, and mussels cling with tight threads. Even an organism's size and shape can help determine how well it survives the surf. Experiment to see which shapes don't let go in the flow by dousing some with water.

Mixing and mating exhibit graphicMixing and mating

When animals are stuck to the shore, mixing and mating becomes a unique challenge. Most animals release millions of eggs or sperm into the water, hoping they'll find a match as they float. Others have even more unusual solutions to the problem. Come check out the rocky shore personal ads to find out how shore creatures come together.

Fish Tails—digital periscope viewFish tails tell tales

Over time, living things adapt their shapes to their surroundings. By taking a peek at a fish's shape, you can find out a lot about how it gets its food. Find out about the special body shapes and features of fish that are fast hunters, sneaky predators, zigzag swimmers or space invaders, and then see if you can spot each type of fish in our big tank though our digital periscopes.

Rocky Shore Links

Rocky Shore Habitat and Critters of Santa Monica Bay
This page from Heal the Bay lists information about some of the animals you might see in tidepools around Southern California, and also gives a great list of guidelines for visiting tidepools.

Rocky Shore Games and Interactives
The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers this fun site with "I Spy" games, coloring pages to download and print, some rocky shore songs and links to an amazing guide to animals of the rocky shore and beyond.

Intertidal Zone
BBC Nature has compiled a great collection of rocky shore (also known as the intertidal zone) videos and facts on this site.