Things To Do in Chincoteague Island - Exploring Tide Pools and Shallows

The many saltwater tide pools, shallows and shorelines of Chincoteague and Assateague islands are wonderful places to explore. These areas are home to an enormous variety of fish, shellfish, mammals, birds, reptiles and other life.

Bird life of these shallows includes egrets, herons, marsh hens, plovers, oyster catchers, ibises, ducks, geese, brant and others. Bird species vary greatly by season. Some such as herons and gulls find food year round, while others migrate along the coast, following food sources.

Fish inhabit even the shallowest of areas. Many of these habitats are critical nurseries for minnows and other small fish. These include species such as mummichogs, silversides, striped mullet and other baitfish. Hidden among rocks, shells and plants are dozens of species of gobies and other tiny fish that make these areas home.

Crustaceans inhabit practically every level of shallows, tide pools and mud flats. At the highest levels, ghost crabs burrow in the sand. Closer to the water are fiddler crabs, living in the intertidal zone. Below the water's surface, areas of sand, mud and aquatic vegetation are home to blue crabs, tiny species of lobsters and other creatures. Oyster reefs in these areas also hold crustaceans such as grass shrimp, rock crabs and others.

Horseshoe crabs are another visitor to the shallows. These pre-historic creatures are not crabs at all but share a few common features. Along some shorelines, adult horseshoe crabs come ashore to breed. Their eggs accumulate by the millions, which in turn attract other creatures to the shallows.

Mollusks found in tide pools and other shallow areas include oysters, bay scallops, quahog clams, razor clams, cockles, mussels, whelks, periwinkles, moon snails, oyster drills and others. Some mollusks are mobile, while others affix to rocks or other hard surfaces for their entire lives.

Invertebrates include starfish, sea cucumbers, sand dollars. These odd creatures are prized by naturalists, photographers and artists seeking inspiration for examples of natural wonders.

Tags: fish, beaches, oysters, seafood, clams, crabs, shellfish, seashores, tide pools, marshes, sea creatures, sea life

Submitted by: cin