Have you ever splashed in a puddle? Watched your kids dash through a “bottomless lake” at the beach in their rain boots, or wiggle their toes in the gooey sand at the beach? Did you ever wonder what else might be in there? Often times there is a whole world of oceanic wonders in those beach puddles, also known as tide pools, your kids have found to play in on your beach vacation.
While walking along Cannon Beach, Oregon last summer my husband and I were amazed by what was uncovered during low tide. Brilliant orange and red starfish, puckered-up mussels clinging to rocks, and green sea anemones gave us a glimpse of what the Pacific Ocean held captive most of the day. My toddler couldn’t comprehend what he was seeing. He was used to gazing at such creatures behind glass at an aquarium, not out in the open where he might be able to touch them.
We found this again while on the island of Kauai. Low tide uncovered huge tide pools just waiting to be explored. My 3-year-old son threw his goggles on to peer into the water to see what was below. Admittedly he got scared when the fish would get too close, and especially when he saw black crabs on the rocks, but he was seeing these amazing ocean animals in their natural habitat, not in a tank. He was learning that the world is a bit bigger, and more interesting, than he originally thought.
As my now 1-year-old son becomes more aware of the world, he too is seeing creatures leap through the water. He is not as timid as his big brother and wants to dive right in after the fish. Thankfully the fish are still quicker than him.
Some parents might not see value in such an excursion when a child is so young, but you have to look at the big picture. It was much easier for both my boys to see animals moving in the water when they were babies. The splash of an otter at the zoo as he swam around his tank made my oldest son sit up and take notice, unlike the sleeping tigers and lions we had passed earlier that day. This early introduction to animals has only grown with time. He loves to hunt for the sleepy lions, and look up for giraffes, but the otters he first noticed are what gave him that drive to explore.
My youngest son’s brain is starting to piece together that other creatures, besides him, move in the water. He may not fully comprehend this, but a year from now when he sees the same thing he may think that he should be seeing sea life when we explore tide pools at the beach. This anticipation is worthy of early exposure to all of Mother Nature’s natural wonders. After all, I am laying the foundation for a life filled with discovery and an inquisitive mind that needs to know more with every beach getaway., no matter how big the puddles.