The stunning beauty of Northern Ireland's Causeway coast has been attracting visitors for generations. One of the most popular destinations is the seaside town of Portrush.
Every summer Portrush attracts a large number of tourists, when the town's usual population of 7,000 grows to over 20,000, with its restaurants, ice-cream parlours and amusements all proving a big hit with visitors.
Portrush has also long been renowned for its beautiful beaches: The West Strand, the East Strand and the White Rocks.
The beaches in Portrush, like so many beaches across Ireland, have rockpools that are perfect for exploring.
Rockpooling is a fun and simple activity to do. You just need a bucket, shoes with good grip as it can be slippy, and to be accompanied by an adult as the sea can be dangerous. Stay safe by following the seaside code. Bringing a camera to record what you find is helpful and it can be also useful to have a guide sheet with you identifying what the different creatures are.
The best time to go rockpooling is when the tide is out, as it leaves behind pools, which house an amazing and diverse range of creatures and plants. The rockpools closest to the water’s edge are usually where you find the most creatures hiding under stones.
Some creatures only stay in the rock pools until the next high tide arrives and they go back into the sea, while others remain there, with seaweed providing them with good hiding places and shade.
Plants and animals that live in rock pools are tough, as they survive in a constantly changing environment; different water temperatures, exposure to the sun and heavy rain, decreasing oxygen levels and battering from the incoming sea.
Seaweed and sea anemone (which are animals found along the shoreline that have hooks on the end of their tentacles for capturing animals to eat) anchor themselves to rocks for stability and protection. Creatures commonly found in rockpools include crabs, shrimps, snails, limpets, jellyfish and starfish.
Whenever you lift a rock to look under it, be sure to put it back exactly where you found it, as that will protect the creatures living in the pool. Be careful not to touch any anemones or jellyfish you find, they can sting.
So why not give rockpooling a go, but always remember to stay safe!