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Too Much Love Harming San Diego Tide Pools

Tide pools north of Scripps Pier are protected from the ocean by dike rock, at least at low tide during the morning of Sept. 4, 2020.
Erik Anderson
Tide pools north of Scripps Pier are protected from the ocean by dike rock, at least at low tide during the morning of Sept. 4, 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a lot of pressure on places you might not imagine, places like tide pools. The delicate shoreline habitats run the risk of being overrun.

Wildcoast Conservation Manager Cory Pukini stood on slippery rocks just behind an outcropping know locally as Dike Rock. The rocky shore is located north of Scripps Pier.

Too Much Love Harming San Diego Tide Pools
Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.

Pukini pointed at pools that gradually fill up when the tide rolls in.

VIDEO: Too Much Love Harming San Diego Tide Pools

“If you look around you’ll see a lot of these small fish, invertebrates that move in and out with the tides,” Pukini said.

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There are worries about these small pocket habitats scattered along the San Diego coast because they are getting a lot of attention from visitors.

And not every visitor thinks about the environment first.

“Visitation is not necessarily a bad thing," he said. "But over loving these areas and too many people coming to the tide pool and taking critters or removing things, poking or prodding is not a sustainable way to engage with our tide pools.”

More people are visiting these fragile habitats these days possibly because they are looking for safer activities during the pandemic.

Pukini welcomes curiosity but urges visitors to enjoy with their eyes.

It would not take long to strip away the species that have fashioned a life in these alternately wet and dry rocky areas.

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Pukini warned that it would not take long to strip away the tide pool’s living organisms and would take a long time to recover.

“They would, eventually, if left alone, repopulate, but it’s going to take a long time, on the decade scale,” Pukini said.

Tide pools can be found at Swamis in Encinitas, Point Loma and Carlsbad among other places around the county.

Pukini wants people to enjoy the nearshore habitat, he just does not want to see them loved to death.