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If you are planning a shore visit, ensure you look at the tide tables well before you go and plan to be there at least on hour before low tide.

Remember that not all shores experience low tide at the same time. Generally note what time it is at the nearest city, and that should be fairly close. Add a bit of time if in doubt.

Be aware of when the tide will turn. You will need to retreat back up the shore. You will soon notice that the waves are getting larger and that your feet are being wetted more often. Watch out for freak waves at this time.

The shipping or weather section of your local newspaper will list the daily tides. You can also obtain an annual tide table from your newsagent, or fishing goods store



The most serious safety issue for rocky shore explorers is the threat to life caused by the "freak wave". It usually surges across the rocky shore, ambushing the unwary. Never, ever, run away from a wave. You may fall or be pushed over by the wall of water, or fall into a hidden rockpool and either strain your ankle or break it. I have done this... so be warned.

An unsuspecting person can easily be washed into a deep gutter, or off a rock into deep water. You can easily drown, or be swept against barnacle-encrusted rocks.


• No matter how safe a rocky shore may seem, never ever turn your back to the waves.

• Always keep a lookout for infrequent large waves.

• Always move slowly on greasy-looking algae shores. They can be very slippery. On some, it is impossible to keep your footing. It may be more slippery than ice.

• If a large wave is approaching, get a firm foothold.
Brace yourself side-on to the wave, leaning slightly into it to retain your balance. Never run from a wave.

Dangerous Animals:

Never try and pick up the Blue-ringed Octopus, anemone cone shells, sea snakes, box jellyfish, sea jellies or bluebottles.

They can all inflict a painful - or even fatal - sting or bite.

If someone has been stung or bitten, immobilise the bitten or stung part with a splint and commence mouth-to-mouth expired air resuscitation if the patient has any difficulty breathing.

Get medical help immediately.

The patient may loose consciousness, but keep up the resuscitation until help arrives.

Sun Protection:

When visiting an shore, remember to 'slip, slop, slap'.

  • Slip on a shirt with a collar,
  • slop 15+ sunscreen on any uncovered skin, and
  • slap on a wide-brimmed hat. Don't wear a cap which leaves your neck unprotected. Remember that you will be leaning forward a lot of the time, exposing your neck. You will be sunburned in 15 minutes without proper protection.


The best footwear for visiting a rocky shore, or a muddy shore as well, is an old pair of lace-up sandshoes with a good tread. Wear some old socks to stop your heels from being chafed. Never wear thongs or sandals. They will not provide a good enough footing, and sharp barnacles and shells can give you a nasty cut, and infection.

Home Page
Rocky Shores
Tidal Levels
Intertidal Zonation
Environmental Factors
Biological Factors
Feeding Relationships


photo of Keith DaveyLife on Australian Seashores
by Keith Davey (C) 2000

Learning Consultant - Media
The University of Newcastle

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Scientific Consultant: Phil Colman
site created 01.01.98 : updated 01.04.2000