The beach is where sea, sky and land intersect and where families come together. It’s got something for everyone: open space to stretch your legs, living things to inspire curiosity, wind and waves to ignite the senses, breathtaking views to soothe the soul. It’s where the inner child in everyone is free to come out and play. Is your family is beach-bound? Jot down these five ways connect with each other while connecting with nature.
Whether you see yourself as a pirate searching for gold, a scientist seeking rare specimens, or an artist looking for inspiration, everyone loves a good treasure hunt. Equip each explorer with a container and set off in search of the most interesting shells, sea glass and other artefacts you can find. Then reunite and puzzle over where each item came from and what it was used for—by humans or other species. If you like, aim to complete a checklist like this one. You may wish to bring treasures home, but be aware that removing shells can have negative ecological impacts.
Under the Sea
The ocean boasts extraordinary creatures that you won’t see anywhere else. Exploring tide pools is a fascinating way to get acquainted with them. Depending on where you are, you might see hermit crabs, anemones, barnacles, algae, mussels, sea stars, snails, fish or something completely different. Here are some tips for touring tide pools with kids. When the tide comes in, snorkelling provides another exciting perspective. Get up close and personal, just make sure any touching is done gently.
If you love seafood, you’re not alone; a wide variety of birds are drawn to the beach for the protein it provides. Species vary, but chances are you’ll catch a glimpse of sandpipers, plovers, herons, gulls, kingfishers, or birds of prey no matter what shore you’re on. You might also see birds doing amazing things, like dropping molluscs on rocks to break them open or diving head-first underwater to grab a fish. If you’re keen, you can create a simple bird guide for young kids. More seasoned naturalists may enjoy submitting their sightings to the eBird online database or participating in the OspreyWatch nest monitoring program.
Appreciating the beach is a wonderful thing, but you may want to do one better and lend a helping hand. Picking up garbage along the shore keeps it out of the ocean and helps protect wildlife. The Ocean Conservancy organises an International Coastal Cleanup that collects millions of pounds of trash every year. The next one is coming up on September 17th. You can also report unusual sightings like jellyfish or other animals washed up on shore and algal blooms to jellywatch.org: an online database that monitors coastal ocean health worldwide. And to learn more about how to protect our oceans from pollution, visit connectforwater.org.
The beach is the perfect place to let go of a goal-focused mindset and let your imagination play. Its abundant natural objects lend themselves well to becoming whatever you want them to be in your mind’s eye. Wet sand takes the shape of a terrible sea creature, stones stack into human figures and seashells are arranged to become a signature gourmet dish. You don’t need directions—just a bit of creativity!