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.