Beachcombing and Shore Walking
Beachcombing and shore walking are water sports you can engage in without knowing how to swim and without getting too wet. Here are some books to help you appreciate and understand the shore and its inhabitants: two-legged, four-legged, many-legged and no-legged.
QL411.R43 1981, 1994x
If you are lucky enough to happen upon some seashells on your walk along the beach, use this guide to identify them.
QL151 .M44 1981, 1994x
If you are more interested in the starfish, sea urchins and other live animals you see in tidepools, try this illustrated guide to 666 species.
The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod
QH105.M4 B47 1992
Henry Beston wrote this book in 1925, chronicling a solitary year spent on a Cape Cod beach where he originally intended to spend just two weeks. Beston argued that, "The world today is sick to its thin blood for the lack of elemental things, for fire before the hands, for water, for air, for the dear earth itself underfoot." That is even more the case today.
The Edge of the Sea
QH95.7.C385 1955x; QH95.7.C385 1998
Originally published in 1955 by Rachel Carson (author of Silent Spring), The Edge of the Sea was first intended to be a field guide but Carson found it more interesting to write about the relationships among seashore life and the effect of environmental factors upon them.. Carson was by training a marine biologist (even though a Pittsburgh native) and had previously written The Sea Around Us.
This illustrated Firefly guide, originally published in Italian, contains 120 species-specific entries as well as essays on the history, biology, and ecology of sharks. Learn more about "Jaws" before you venture into the water...
A Field Guide to the Atlantic Seashore
This Peterson Field Guide, in more than 1,000 illustrations, arranged according to visual similarities, show plant and animal species of the Atlantic Coast from the Bay of Fundy to Cape Hatteras.
The Salt House: A Summer on the Dunes of Cape Cod
PS3558.U517 Z49 1999
Poet Huntington and her husband spent three seasons in a 12 x 16 foot single-room "dune shack" on stilts that they named "Euphoria" after the wind that whistled beneath it. Originally built by squatters, it had no electricity and was 40 minutes from the nearest town. This is her lyrical account of her life there.
The Beach: The History of Paradise on Earth
GB454 .B3 L46 1998x
This book tells the story of the beach -- its history, customs, spectacles, and scandals. It was also made into a documentary: History of the Beach: The Turning Tides of History
A Field Guide to the Southeast Coast and Gulf of Mexico: Coastal Habitats, Seabirds, Marine Mammals, Fish, and Other Wildlife
QL157.S68 P76 2011
This guide concentrates on the whole environment of the southeastern Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and has information for birders, whale watchers, fishers, boaters, scuba divers and snorkelers and shoreline visitors.
This is a very general overview of seaweeds that should give you a better understanding of those leathery things that wash up on shore with bladders that are oh so fun to pop.
Sippewissett: Or, Life on a Salt Marsh
Environmental scientist Tim Traver traces the natural history of the Sippewissett salt marsh on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in a blend of personal memoir, scientific fact, and regional history.
Civilization and the Limpet
"This is a book about animals. Not the sweet and furry sort, but mostly about fish and invertebrates, the worms and the squid, jellyfish and small creatures that most people prefer to ignore."
(VIDEO) GB451.2.H575 2003x
Traces the evolution of beaches from barren stretches of sand to premier destinations for recreation, relaxation, and adventure. Covers a wide range of topics including historical attitudes towards beaches, sand formation, the spring break phenomenon, lifeguards, swimming, surfing, famous wartime beach battles, beach culture, beach resorts, swimsuits, beach amusement parks, and natural disasters. Features montages from many famous beaches of the past and present.
(DVD) QH541.5.M3 N383 2008x
This PBS/WNET Nature documentary tells the story of the interdependence of the red knot shorebird and the horseshoe crab. Each year, the red knot winters on the southern tip of South America and then embarks on a 10,000-mile journey to its nesting grounds in the Arctic, timing its migration precisely to coincide with the annual spawning of the horseshoe crab in the Delaware Bay. The eggs of the horseshoe crab fuel the birds on one of the longest migrations on Earth. However, in recent years, human interference has lessened the supply of crab eggs available, thereby endangering the red knot.
(DVD) GB454.B3 S56 2004x
This 1996 WQED documentary narrated by Rick Seback offers a fun look at some of America's beaches, including: Venice Beach, California; Oahu, Hawaii; Rehoboth, Delaware; San Diego's Dog Beach; Nantucket.
This episode from the Weekend Explorer TV program explores Cape Cod and the Cape Cod National Seashore.
For additional titles, browse the library catalog under the subjects:
Cape Cod National Seashore: Nature & Science
This site from the National Park Service describes some of the plants and animals you will encounter there.
A guide to ecological sites along the Delaware Bay.
- Horseshoe Crabs
These are definitely the most fascinating creatures on the eastern seashore but they need to be protected.
Did you know that in Japan, according to legend, brave warriors who died in battle were reborn as horseshoe crabs (Kabutogani), "their shells samurai helmets, eternally crossing the bottom of the sea."
Maryland DNR: Horseshoe Crabs: A Living Fossil
They have a program for raising horseshoe crabs in the classroom.
- University of Delaware Sea Grant: Horseshoe Crab
- Horseshoe Crab
Patricia B. Mitchell has put together an online seashell guide for the southeast coast of the U.S. Maybe you would like to make some Coquina shell soup?
South Carolina DNR Sea Science
Information pages on a variety of sea life, also available as printable brochures in .pdf format.
South Carolina DNR Species Gallery
A listing of birds, fishes, invertebrates, mammals, plants and reptiles with information on each species.
Visit Florida: Beach Combing and Shelling
If you go to Florida, you might find sea pork, sea squirts or mermaid's purses along the shore!