The Seaside

The shorelines of the Park are home to marine organisms and are essential components of the forest ecosystem. Many animals such as river otters, snakes, ravens, gulls, bald eagles and mink feed along the seaside at low tide. Foods for all include clumps of mussels, worms, barnacles, snails and also fish living in the offshore reefs.

The Park's sea and forest are vital elements within the Pacific Coast Flyway, a key North American bird migration route. During the fall and winter, rafts of over 3000 wintering sea ducks are often seen offshore.

For creatures inhabiting the seashore year round, life has its struggles. At low tide, they are exposed to sunlight and air and even fresh water as rain. At high tide, saltwater and darkness cover them. Predators, too, change with the tides! However, where land and sea meet, one of the most species-rich ecosystems is formed. To see Lighthouse Park's shoreline underwater, follow this link.

BARROW'S GOLDENEYE Bucephala islandica

After a winter spent at sea, these ducks fly to lakes inland and nest in woodpecker holes in aspen and cottonwood trees.

BLACK OYSTERCATCHER Haematopus bachmani

Barnacles, limpets and mussels are pried off rocks and opened by its specialized bill. Feeding areas are noisily defended year round.

GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL Larus glaucescens

A common resident gull, it breeds with its own kind and sometimes with Herring and Western gulls.

SURFBIRD Aphriza virgata

This tundra-breeding bird searches for mussels, crabs and worms along the rocky shoreline of the Park in the winter.

PURPLE SHORE CRAB Hemigrapsus nudus

At low tide these crabs hide in pools under rocks. When grabbed by a predator, a limb is spontaneously dropped but then replaced at the next molt.

COMMON SEASTAR Pisaster ochraceus

As a keystone species, this seastar influences both the distribution and abundance of other intertidal animals. Feeding preferentially on mussels, it keeps their numbers down and opens up space for other species.

HERMIT CRAB Pagurus sp.

Important as tidepool scavengers, these crabs tuck their abdomens into the protective coils of empty snail shells.

BEACH PEA Lathyrus japonicas

BALD EAGLE Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Equally adept at fishing as catching sea ducks, bald eagles build huge stick nests that may weigh over a tonne.