There are lots of amazing marine creatures that live in the ocean and on our beaches. Learn about the marine creatures that you should look out for when you visit the beach.

What lives in the ocean and at the beach?

Oceans are home to about 230,000 known species. However, because only 5% of the oceans have been explored, the total number of marine life living in these oceans could be over two million! There is lots of amazing marine life to see when you go to beach, but some of them can hurt you, such as the blue ringed octopus and bluebottles. This information on marine creatures can help to keep you safe when exploring the beach and rock pools.

Rock pools (or 'tide pools') are rocky pools by the sea. They fill with seawater during high tides, and exist as separate pools at low tide.

At first glance, they might appear to be home to only a few limpets and some seaweed, but peering into the depths of even the smallest rock pool reveals incredible diversity. And no two are ever the same.

They are rich and fascinating places to explore but you should avoid putting your hands in the water and exploring rock crevices, as not all creatures are harmless.

Image of a rock pool

Rock Pool Explorer

Next time you head down to the rock pool, take this rock pool explorer checklist with you and see how many things you can find. Maybe you might prefer to draw a picture instead?

The blue ringed octopus is a beautiful, but deadly creature which can be found in rock pools.

You should NEVER put your hands in rock pools as blue ringed octopus are extremely well camouflaged amongst the rocks. They are generally timid and will only display their blue rings when threatened. Their bite may not be felt, but within minutes symptoms include numbness of the lips and tongue, difficulty in breathing, followed by complete paralysis of the breathing muscles. In the event of a suspected bite, seek immediate medical attention.

Watch this short video to see how they change colour.

Bluebottles (Portuguese Man o'War) are a very common stinger on NSW beaches, usually found washed up in the warmer months when a north easterly wind is blowing. See the long stringy part? That is the part that stings you.

What do we do if we get stung? You can wash off the tentacle with sea water and then run hot water where you were stung (no hotter than you can tolerate). If you can’t get hot water straightaway, you can apply cold water or ice to the sting.


There are many types of sharks around Australia, and most are harmless to humans. Sharks hold an important role in its ecosystem, and should be respected but not feared.

Here are some simple tips to avoid encountering a shark at the beach:

- Avoid swimming at dawn and dusk
- Avoid swimming at river mouths or in murky, discoloured water
- Avoid swimming in or around schools of baitfish


Cows kill more people then sharks every year! Check out our interesting facts about sharks for more info.


What lives in our oceans and on the beach?

Image of a sea turtle underwater


Marine turtles have lived in the oceans for over 100 million years. Did you know that they migrate thousands of kms in their lifetime through ocean basins and high seas?
Sea shell


All those seashells you find on the beach were actually once home to small, soft-bodied creatures called molluscs. So what lives in them and how are they made?
Image of a crab on the sand


You may see a surf crab running backwards into its home when you are on the beach. It's a bit cheeky as it will go into shallow water and may nibble on bare feet and remove bait from fishers' hooks!

Learn more about being safe at the beach

Beach & Ocean Safety

Be prepared before you head to the beach and learn our useful tips to keep you, your family, your friends and your loved ones safe when you visit our beautiful coast!

How to stay safe at the beach

The beach is for everyone to enjoy. Knowing how to stay safe while at the beach will make sure that you and your family have the best day possible.

What is a wave?

Waves can be fun. You can dive under them, jump over them, watch them gently roll to shore or be awed by their power as they crash on the beach. So how are they formed?

What is a rip current?

Rip currents are one of the biggest dangers at the beach. Knowing what a rip is, how to spot one and how to avoid one is key to staying safe at the beach.

Learn about marine creatures

There are lots of amazing marine creatures that live in the ocean and on our beaches. What are the ones you should look out for when you visit the beach?

What is a surf lifesaver?

Each summer over 20,000 members of SLSNSW put on the iconic red and yellow uniforms at beaches across the state. So who exactly are these heroes in red and yellow? Let's find out!