Low Tide Beachwalks: May – Sept.

Low Tide Beachwalks: May – Sept.

Twice each day the gravity of the sun and moon pull the water out and several hours later push the waters up high onto the beach. During Spring, Summer, and early Fall low tides are during the day. The lowest daytime low tides can be as low as -3 feet. These typically occur in June and July. 

Explore the fascinating intertidal zone with a FOLKS volunteer Marine ecologist guide. You never know what you’ll discover! 

Join us for Low Tide Discovery Adventure! Meet up with one of our volunteer marine intertidal ecologists who will lead the group walk on the beach during low tide. You will be able to experience hands-on encounters with amazing teeny-tiny animals and plants. Meet in front of the Interpretive Center. Please wear appropriate clothing for the day’s weather. Sturdy rubber boots are recommended for walking on the rocks and in the water.

Beach naturalists are local San Juan Island citizens who care about our Salish Sea beaches and want to help protect them. More than 100 have volunteered to help people learn about and enjoy area shorelines. Beach naturalists know their beaches: they can help you enjoy the habitat without harming it; tell you what sea stars eat; explain why barnacles stand on their heads; describe how moon snails lay their eggs; and so much more.

Our local beaches are a treasure and a wonderful resource for all. If you choose to explore the beach on your own or with members of your household, help keep our beaches healthy for everyone by following these tips:

  • Practice social distancing: stay safe while on the beach.
  • Explore gently: low tide is stressful for many creatures.
  • Leave things where they are: shells and rocks are homes.
  • Avoid stepping on eelgrass: it’s a fragile nursery with life literally beneath your feet.

Please check the Events Calendar for arrival times so you will not miss a moment of exploration.


From one of our recent beach walks:

On Friday, June 27, it was about a 1 ½ hours after a -1.3 foot low tide when I met a family of five from Chicago and headed for Deadman Bay and the tide pools at its north end. The older daughter, Tessa, was the most engaged of the three children, and I focused our walk on her – taking the others along for the ride. Being from Chicago, they were fascinated to learn about the tides and organisms that live within the tidal zone – all of the plants and animals and the abundant and varied brown algae. We started with the bull kelp that greeted us on the beach and the rockweed and then we moved to the – rocks, of course. We saw barnacles; they were all over the rocks. We next encountered dogwinkles (a.k.a. barnacle eating whelks) and empty barnacle houses indicating their presence. In the process, we came across many other snails, limpets, chitons, and anemones – including some big, beautiful Christmas anemones that were still partially submerged but still showing about half of their tentacles. We saw lots more algae, including calcareous reds, sea cabbage, acid kelp, black pine, and sea bush. As the tide continued to rise, we were still able to see a lot and I was especially gratified by what we able to see at this low tide level. Bob Weathers, Volunteer