The Pacific is the world’s largest ocean, spreading halfway around the world and comprising 48 percent of the world’s water. The great body of salt water is home to a vast array of creatures, many of which live on the shore. Animals living along Pacific beaches must be adapted to both wet and dry conditions as this area is underwater at high tide and exposed to the air at low tide.
Mammals that live on and near the Pacific coast include the California sea lion, harbor seal, northern elephant seal, Guadalupe fur seal, Northern fur seal and Hawaiian monk seal. These seals breed, raise young, and rest on shores from Alaska south to Mexico and also Hawaii.
Shorebirds that live along the coast of the Pacific Ocean include avocets, oystercatchers, phalaropes, plovers, sandpipers, stilts, snipes and turnstones. These birds are generally characterized by long, thin legs with little to no webbing on their feet for wading in shallow water. They also have long, thin bills for plucking prey such as worms, insect larva, amphipods, copepods, crustaceans and mollusks from rocks and sand.
Marine reptiles that are adapted to life on Pacific shores include eight species of marine turtles, several sea snakes, one unique lizard called the marine iguana and saltwater crocodiles. Marine reptiles live in places along coasts of tropical and southern temperate regions where ocean water is warm.
Pacific shoreline invertebrate species include sea anemones, barnacles, chitons, crabs, isopods, limpets, mussels, sea stars, snails and whelks. All of these creatures have adapted to a life of clinging to rocks and boat docks during high tides and low, and they can survive rough waves or tumbling out to sea and back.
Introduced species like the European green crab are wreaking havoc on native species of the Pacific coast. These crabs prey on and compete with other crabs, bivalves, gastropods like snails and slugs, and many other invertebrates.
Jennifer Bové is an award-winning contributor to "Your Big Backyard" magazine. She also writes for the National Wildlife Federation website and other online publications. Bové has published three books of nature-related stories, and she holds a B.S. in biology from the University of Missouri.