5 Intriguing rockpool finds

By Paul Millar, 12th June 2018

During our rocky shores explorations with school groups we find so many wonderful creatures and share the excitement of discovery and getting up close to marine life. There are frequent human-animal interactions during these sessions – starfish and octopus probably being the most likely to elicit squeals of joy (from the humans, that is).

But there are other strange and surprising discoveries nestling in the rockpools too – ones that frequently generate wildly speculative discussion and giggling fits from the kids. Here is a list of five of our more intriguing finds that get the kids thinking about how these items arrived at their temporary home in amongst the beautiful creatures that inhabit the rockpools of Dalebrook Beach:

Surfboard fins – Kalk Bay reef, off Dalebrook Beach, is one of Cape Towns best and trickiest surf spots – the frequent finds of surfboard bits are testament to the vicious wipe-outs handed out to local surfers by “The Reef”.

Surfing Survivors - washed up surfboard fins © Paul Millar | Save Our Seas Foundation

Underwear – There’s no shortage of washed up clothing at Dalebrook Beach – but why are so many of the clothes under-garments? The little school boys are always ready to speculate…

Toys – A toy octopus, spare parts for toy cars, a plastic teddy bear and even a miniature saxophone all somehow find their way into the sea. Many are encrusted with marine life, illustrating the fact that plastics remain in marine systems for far longer than any of the real creatures we’re actually looking for.

Musical Molluscs - a giant chiton "playing" a tiny plastic saxophone © Paul Millar | Save Our Seas Foundation

Benthic Bear © Paul Millar | Save Our Seas Foundation

Mechanical crabs – A relatively new commercial fishery in False Bay, octopus are caught in traps that use mechanical crabs. Sometimes the crabs “escape”, wash up on the rocks, and start a discussion with the kids about fishing practices.

Curious Crab - a mechanical crab used in the octopus fishery © Paul Millar | Save Our Seas Foundation

False teeth – Guaranteed to elicit elaborate stories from the kids about seasick fishermen retching over the side of their boats during high seas, our collection of false teeth (in various shades) is growing. Sometimes we hit the jackpot with finds of gold inlays! Pop in to the Centre to see if we can match your needs…

Toothy Treasures - false teeth found in the rockpools © Paul Millar | Save Our Seas Foundation


Weird as some of the discoveries are, they do serve as an attention-grabbing way into the important conversations that we all need to be having about marine pollution – where it comes from, the extent to which each and every one of us is part of the problem and, most importantly, what we can do to fix things. The wonder, respect and care that children feel when learning about and seeing marine life up close sensitises them to the need for healthy oceans. While the kids often find some funny stuff while looking for marine life, the message seems to come home too – plastic pollution of every conceivable kind is getting into our oceans and this can’t continue!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve found in the ocean? Let us know…