Many plants and animals make the coastline of Massachusetts their home. For animals, the shoreline may provide a place to rest, nest, feed, or reproduce. For plants and seaweeds, the beach or nearshore area affords a place to root, shoot, spread, and replicate. With the wealth of species out there, identification can be a challenge. But wouldn’t it be nice to name that seabird or maybe even finally be able to identify (and avoid) that pesky poison ivy? Here are a few links to help you identify some of the more common animals and plants at the shore.

Birds, Seals, Turtles, and other Vertebrates (i.e., animals with backbones)

Shellfish (and Seashells), Sea Stars, and Other Invertebrates

Shellfish, seashells, and crabs in a tidepool
Shellfish, seashells, and crabs in a tidepool.
  • Shellfish at the Shore pdf format of Shellfish at the Shore
file size 4MB - This Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries poster provides photographs and descriptions of common shellfish found on Massachusetts shores.
  • Seashells, Gems from the Sea! - This web page from the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance describes the diversity of shells found in the region and includes best places for collecting shells in Massachusetts.
  • CZ-Tip - Learn What Lurks in a Massachusetts Tide Pool - See this tip to learn more about strange marine organisms and the creative characteristics that allow them to survive this harsh intertidal environment, along with a guide to destinations where you can make your own tide pool discoveries.

Plants and Seaweeds