Intertidal Zone

The intertidal zone is a complex marine ecosystem. Often called, the "Littoral Zone," it is the transition zone between the terrestrial ecosystems and the ocean. The intertidal is exposed to environmental extremes that make it inhospitable for many organisms.

The intertidal zone is characterized by a pattern of bands in a vertical axis. This vertical zonation is the result of the occurrence of dominant species in distinct horizontal bands. The slopes of the intertidal zone may change from season to season.

The tides temperature and salinity can change greatly in a 24 hour period. Go here to read about the causes and effects of the tides. Sometimes the three dimensional structure of the rocks allow for the formation of tide pools, as the water recedes. The properties of these pools, over a long period of exposure, can change significantly. For example, after a strong rain the salinity of these pools may drop to nearly that of fresh water.

For any organisms that can withstand the wave energy, drying and temperature extremes, this is a great place to live. The area is rich in nutrients an abundant supply of oxygen. At low tide organisms face heat and desiccation stress.

Don't forget that it is very important to respect these areas when visiting the intertidal pools as human contact can disrupt and even destroy this environment.

Zonation | Intertidal Pools | Collection Etiquette

Kelp & Algae | Fungi | Porifera | Cnidaria

Mollusca | Echinodermata | Osteichthyes

Tides | References