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Who lives in a pool?

Got your sneakers on? Good. We're off to visit a pool where some animals have tongues with thousands of teeth, and other animals can turn somersaults. We'll look for an animal shaped like a tiny volcano, and see another one that spins thread. What's that? You think I'm making this up? Well, see it for yourself.

Here we are at the beach already. It's low tide now, the perfect time to explore the tidepool I've been telling you about.

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See the tiny brown snail that's holding onto the side of that big rock? He's the one with all the teeth on his tongue. He has to have so many because he likes to eat rubbery seaweed. Yuck. Some days you might be able to spot this periwinkle crawling v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. But most of the time he sticks to the rocks, just like his downstairs neighbors, the barnacles.

That's a barnacle right there, the white one that looks like a tiny volcano. Once he finds a rock he likes, he stays put for good. He doesn't even have to go out for meals. When the tide is in, he just opens the hole on top and tiny little feathery feet come out into the water and kick food into his mouth.

At low tide the barnacle closes his hole and sits tight. He can take all kinds of pounding by the waves and holds onto this rock during the worst winter storms. Now you know what it means to ``stick like a barnacle.''

Just below the barnacles, which live packed tightly together along the high-tide marks, are the mussels. We could really call them ``muscles'' because they're some of the strongest animals in the tidepool. If you look closely at a mussel, you can see tiny threads coming out from the hinge where the two purple-and-black shells come together. Mussels spin those threads to anchor themselves to rocks, and they're pretty hard to pull off.

Down at the bottom of the tidepool are some of my favorite animals. You've probably seen pictures of sea stars before, but had you ever thought they'd be so brightly colored? Yellow, orange, red, even purple.

Most sea stars have five arms, though some have 20, and they use them for walking. Turn one over and look at the hundreds of tiny suction cups on the bottom of each arm. Those catch hold of rocks and pull the sea stars along at a pretty good pace. You don't have to worry about turning him back over. Sea stars can somersault where they want to go. Not really quickly, but they eventually get there.

We'd better get going, too. I just got splashed by a big, frothy wave, which means the tide is coming in again.

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See you next trip! --30--{et

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