While we’re out at the ocean, let’s review several recent books that will make the visit more rewarding. Foghorn Outdoors has just released the third edition of California Beaches: The Best Places to Swim, Play, Eat, and Stay on the Coast by Parke Puterbaugh and Alan Bisbort (www.foghorn.com). This comprehensive guide to the more than 1,200 miles of California coastline is organized by coastal county. Each chapter begins with a detailed map and a bit of insight into the distinctive character of local beaches. Keys indicate cycling, diving, camping, and hiking opportunities, as well as overall desirability.
The Intertidal Wilderness: A Photographic Journey Through Pacific Coast Tidepools by Anne Wertheim Rosenfeld with Robert T. Paine, originally published in 1985, has recently been revised and reissued by University of California Press (www.ucpress.edu). A gorgeously photographed introduction to the tidepools of western North America, the book covers such topics as competition, predation, reproduction, and conservation. Among the books useful appendices are “Planning Your Visit to the Tidepools” and “Classifying Animals and Plants.”
Once you’ve grasped the basics of tidepool ecology with Intertidal Wilderness, you’ll be ready to start exploring the coast with The Beachcomber’s Guide to Seashore Life of California by J. Duane Sept (Harbour Publishing, 800-667-2988). Beginning with a brief overview of the state’s intertidal habitats and the tidal cycle, and ending with descriptions of the best beachcombing sites in the state, this book is packed in the middle with information about sea anemones, mollusks, seaweeds, arthropods, and more. Each species overview includes a photograph accompanied by scientific and common names, as well as descriptions, habitat ranges, and other useful notes.