The intertidal zone is an exciting place where more than just the land and the ocean meet: it is a unique community where seaweeds and animals can survive both above and below the sea. Life in the intertidal zone (literally meaning “between the tides”) means adjusting to new conditions every time the tide changes–and this is happening nearly all the time.
Imagine hiking up and down the walls of your house as the sun moves across the sky, all the while changing how much oxygen you breath and the costume you wear. This is life in the intertidal zone. Snails slide for cover under a seaweed hat; flower-like anemones transform into water saving blobs. Other creatures such as sculpins adjust slowly to the dropping salinity of their tidepool as it rains. Even barnacles batten down their hatches to avoid drying out.
Ever changing conditions in the zone between high and low tide have created a richness of lifestyles and numerous adaptations. But even adaptations have limits: despite their versatility, most intertidal life will only survive within specific ranges. Along with competition for space and food, the effects of predators, tides, wind, sun, and air divide the intertidal zone into horizontal habitats.
To order a copy of Caring for Our Shores: A Handbook for Coastal Residents in the Strait of Georgia, contact:
The Cowichan Community Land Trust Society
#6-55 Station Street, Duncan, B.C, V9L 1M2
P: 250-746-0227, F: 250-746-9607
The Marine Ecology Station
Images used with special permission from Kerry L. Werry. To view more pictures of ocean creatures found in B.C waters, visit the B.C Diving and Marine Life I.D Page.