Beachwalker: Sea Life of the West Coast


170 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Index
ISBN 1-55054-016-5
DDC 591.92'53





Reviewed by Patrick Colgan

Patrick Colgan is associate director of programs at the Canadian Museum
of Nature in Ottawa.


This is an excellent survey of the abundance of common intertidal plant
and animals (except birds) that greet the stroller. The introduction, in
which tides and stable temperature of the region’s waters and the
basis for scientific names are discussed, is followed by chapters
focusing on particular groups.

The clear and friendly text is accompanied by both color plates and
black-and-white drawings and photographs (that of the skull of a wolf
eel is especially impressive). Wide margins contain some of the
illustrative material, but remain otherwise wasteful. The accounts of
the diversity of the groups include Latin binomials of the species, and
those of the general biology include morphology and physiology, and
feeding and reproduction—a marvelous array of fantastic shapes,
stinging cells, colorful octopuses, and symbioses between species.
(Imagine the density of the fur of sea otters at 100,000 hairs per
square centimetre!)

Paine also discusses methods for collecting and observing delicate
organisms, and overall ecology and conservation. He spices his text with
such intriguing items as the harvesting of shellfish, the preparation of
sea cucumbers as food, and the manufacture of cloth from clam threads.
This book achieves its objective of being an expert yet genuinely
popular introduction to coastal wildlife.


Paine, Stefani., “Beachwalker: Sea Life of the West Coast,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024,