VANCOUVER — From snails to whales, B.C.’s Pacific coast teems with animal life. A pair of new guides can help hikers and beach-goers identify a multitude of species.
A Field Guide to Sea Stars of the Pacific Northwest is a water-resistant fold-out pamphlet that explains the differences between such exotic creatures as the bat star, the cookie star and the gunpowder star (so named because it smells like exploded gunpowder).
Sea stars — don’t call them “starfish,” since the animals are unrelated to fish — are abundant along the coast from California to Alaska and can often be seen at low tide.
The expanded second edition of Whelks to Whales: Coastal Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest describes over 500 of the most common marine species, including sponges, barnacles, clams, seals, sea cucumbers, nudibranchs, dogwinkles, limpets, oysters, sea urchins and tube worms.
Readers learn that male crabs often hang on to females in an embrace lasting for weeks (the guide does not say whether the females welcome this or not), and that chitons — parts of which are often washed up on shore and encountered by beachcombers — figure in local aboriginal legends.
Both guides are from Harbour Publishing.