Intertidal zone
Overview
 
The intertidal zone is the area that is above water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 at low tide and under water at high tide
High Tide
High Tide was a band formed in 1969 by Tony Hill , Simon House , Peter Pavli and Roger Hadden .-History:...

 (in other words, the area between tide marks). This area can include many different types of habitats, with many types of animals like starfish, sea urchins, and some species of coral. The well known area also includes steep rocky cliff
Cliff
In geography and geology, a cliff is a significant vertical, or near vertical, rock exposure. Cliffs are formed as erosion landforms due to the processes of erosion and weathering that produce them. Cliffs are common on coasts, in mountainous areas, escarpments and along rivers. Cliffs are usually...

s, sandy beach
Beach
A beach is a geological landform along the shoreline of an ocean, sea, lake or river. It usually consists of loose particles which are often composed of rock, such as sand, gravel, shingle, pebbles or cobblestones...

es, or wetlands (e.g., vast mudflat
Mudflat
Mudflats or mud flats, also known as tidal flats, are coastal wetlands that form when mud is deposited by tides or rivers. They are found in sheltered areas such as bays, bayous, lagoons, and estuaries. Mudflats may be viewed geologically as exposed layers of bay mud, resulting from deposition of...

s). The area can be a narrow strip, as in Pacific islands that have only a narrow tidal range, or can include many metres of shoreline where shallow beach slopes interact with high tidal excursion.

Organism
Organism
In biology, an organism is any contiguous living system . In at least some form, all organisms are capable of response to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development, and maintenance of homoeostasis as a stable whole.An organism may either be unicellular or, as in the case of humans, comprise...

s in the intertidal zone are adapted to an environment of harsh extremes.
Encyclopedia
The intertidal zone is the area that is above water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 at low tide and under water at high tide
High Tide
High Tide was a band formed in 1969 by Tony Hill , Simon House , Peter Pavli and Roger Hadden .-History:...

 (in other words, the area between tide marks). This area can include many different types of habitats, with many types of animals like starfish, sea urchins, and some species of coral. The well known area also includes steep rocky cliff
Cliff
In geography and geology, a cliff is a significant vertical, or near vertical, rock exposure. Cliffs are formed as erosion landforms due to the processes of erosion and weathering that produce them. Cliffs are common on coasts, in mountainous areas, escarpments and along rivers. Cliffs are usually...

s, sandy beach
Beach
A beach is a geological landform along the shoreline of an ocean, sea, lake or river. It usually consists of loose particles which are often composed of rock, such as sand, gravel, shingle, pebbles or cobblestones...

es, or wetlands (e.g., vast mudflat
Mudflat
Mudflats or mud flats, also known as tidal flats, are coastal wetlands that form when mud is deposited by tides or rivers. They are found in sheltered areas such as bays, bayous, lagoons, and estuaries. Mudflats may be viewed geologically as exposed layers of bay mud, resulting from deposition of...

s). The area can be a narrow strip, as in Pacific islands that have only a narrow tidal range, or can include many metres of shoreline where shallow beach slopes interact with high tidal excursion.

Organism
Organism
In biology, an organism is any contiguous living system . In at least some form, all organisms are capable of response to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development, and maintenance of homoeostasis as a stable whole.An organism may either be unicellular or, as in the case of humans, comprise...

s in the intertidal zone are adapted to an environment of harsh extremes. Water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 is available regularly with the tide
Tide
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the Earth....

s but varies from fresh with rain
Rain
Rain is liquid precipitation, as opposed to non-liquid kinds of precipitation such as snow, hail and sleet. Rain requires the presence of a thick layer of the atmosphere to have temperatures above the melting point of water near and above the Earth's surface...

 to highly saline
Seawater
Seawater is water from a sea or ocean. On average, seawater in the world's oceans has a salinity of about 3.5% . This means that every kilogram of seawater has approximately of dissolved salts . The average density of seawater at the ocean surface is 1.025 g/ml...

 and dry salt
Salt
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

 with drying between tidal inundations. The action of waves
Ocean surface wave
In fluid dynamics, wind waves or, more precisely, wind-generated waves are surface waves that occur on the free surface of oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, and canals or even on small puddles and ponds. They usually result from the wind blowing over a vast enough stretch of fluid surface. Waves in the...

 can dislodge residents in the littoral zone. With the intertidal zone's high exposure to the sun the temperature
Temperature
Temperature is a physical property of matter that quantitatively expresses the common notions of hot and cold. Objects of low temperature are cold, while various degrees of higher temperatures are referred to as warm or hot...

 range can be anything from very hot with full sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

 to near freezing in colder climates. Some microclimate
Microclimate
A microclimate is a local atmospheric zone where the climate differs from the surrounding area. The term may refer to areas as small as a few square feet or as large as many square miles...

s in the littoral zone are ameliorated by local features and larger plants such as mangrove
Mangrove
Mangroves are various kinds of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics – mainly between latitudes N and S...

s. Adaptation
Adaptation
An adaptation in biology is a trait with a current functional role in the life history of an organism that is maintained and evolved by means of natural selection. An adaptation refers to both the current state of being adapted and to the dynamic evolutionary process that leads to the adaptation....

 in the littoral zone allows the use of nutrient
Nutrient
A nutrient is a chemical that an organism needs to live and grow or a substance used in an organism's metabolism which must be taken in from its environment. They are used to build and repair tissues, regulate body processes and are converted to and used as energy...

s supplied in high volume on a regular basis from the sea
Sea
A sea generally refers to a large body of salt water, but the term is used in other contexts as well. Most commonly, it means a large expanse of saline water connected with an ocean, and is commonly used as a synonym for ocean...

 which is actively moved to the zone by tides. Edges of habitats, in this case land and sea, are themselves often significant ecologies
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

, and the littoral zone is a prime example.

A typical rock
Rock (geology)
In geology, rock or stone is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids.The Earth's outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock. In general rocks are of three types, namely, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic...

y shore can be divided into a spray zone or splash zone (also known as the supratidal zone), which is above the spring high-tide line and is covered by water only during storms, and an intertidal zone, which lies between the high and low tidal extremes. Along most shore
Shore
A shore or shoreline is the fringe of land at the edge of a large body of water, such as an ocean, sea, or lake. In Physical Oceanography a shore is the wider fringe that is geologically modified by the action of the body of water past and present, while the beach is at the edge of the shore,...

s, the intertidal zone can be clearly separated into the following subzones: high tide zone, middle tide zone, and low tide zone. The intertidal zone is one of a number of marine biomes or habitat
Habitat
* Habitat , a place where a species lives and grows*Human habitat, a place where humans live, work or play** Space habitat, a space station intended as a permanent settlement...

s, including estuaries, neritic, surface and deep zones
Profundal zone
The profundal zone is a very cold and ordinary zone, such as an ocean or a lake, located below the range of effective light penetration. This is typically below the thermocline, the vertical zone in the water through which temperature drops rapidly...

.

Zonation

Marine biologists and others divide the intertidal region into three zones (low, middle, and high), based on the overall average exposure of the zone. The low intertidal zone, which borders on the shallow subtidal zone, is only exposed to air at the lowest of low tides and is primarily marine in character. The mid intertidal zone is regularly exposed and submerged by average tides. The high intertidal zone is only covered by the highest of the high tides, and spends much of its time as terrestrial habitat. The high intertidal zone borders on the splash zone (the region above the highest still-tide level, but which receives wave splash). On shores exposed to heavy wave action, the intertidal zone will be influenced by waves, as the spray from breaking waves will extend the intertidal zone.

Depending on the substratum and topography of the shore, additional features may be noticed. On rocky shores, tide pool
Tide pool
Tide pools are rocky pools by oceans that are filled with seawater. Many of these pools exist as separate entities only at low tide.Tide pools are habitats of uniquely adaptable animals that have engaged the special attention of naturalists and marine biologists, as well as philosophical...

s form in depressions that fill with water as the tide rises. Under certain conditions, such as those at Morecambe Bay
Morecambe Bay
Morecambe Bay is a large bay in northwest England, nearly due east of the Isle of Man and just to the south of the Lake District National Park. It is the largest expanse of intertidal mudflats and sand in the United Kingdom, covering a total area of 310 km².-Natural features:The rivers Leven,...

, quicksand
Quicksand
Quicksand is a colloid hydrogel consisting of fine granular matter , clay, and water.Water circulation underground can focus in an area with the optimal mixture of fine sands and other materials such as clay. The water moves up and then down slowly in a convection-like manner throughout a column...

 may form.

Low tide zone (lower littoral)

This subregion is mostly submerged - it is only exposed at the point of low tide and for a longer period of time during extremely low tides. This area is teeming with life; the most notable difference with this subregion to the other three is that there is much more marine vegetation, especially seaweed
Seaweed
Seaweed is a loose, colloquial term encompassing macroscopic, multicellular, benthic marine algae. The term includes some members of the red, brown and green algae...

s. There is also a great biodiversity. Organisms in this zone generally are not well adapted to periods of dryness and temperature extremes. Some of the organisms in this area are abalone
Abalone
Abalone , from aulón, are small to very large-sized edible sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs in the family Haliotidae and the genus Haliotis...

, sea anemone
Sea anemone
Sea anemones are a group of water-dwelling, predatory animals of the order Actiniaria; they are named after the anemone, a terrestrial flower. Sea anemones are classified in the phylum Cnidaria, class Anthozoa, subclass Zoantharia. Anthozoa often have large polyps that allow for digestion of larger...

s, brown seaweed, chiton
Chiton
Chitons are small to large, primitive marine molluscs in the class Polyplacophora.There are 900 to 1,000 extant species of chitons in the class, which was formerly known as Amphineura....

s, crab
Crab
True crabs are decapod crustaceans of the infraorder Brachyura, which typically have a very short projecting "tail" , or where the reduced abdomen is entirely hidden under the thorax...

s, green algae
Green algae
The green algae are the large group of algae from which the embryophytes emerged. As such, they form a paraphyletic group, although the group including both green algae and embryophytes is monophyletic...

, hydroid
Hydroid
-Marine biology:Hydroids are a life stage for most animals of class Hydrozoa, small predators related to jellyfish.-Botany:In mosses, hydroids form the innermost layer of the stem of long, colourless, thin walled cells of small diameter.The cells are dead and lack protoplasm.They function as water...

s, isopods, limpet
Limpet
Limpet is a common name for a number of different kinds of saltwater and freshwater snails ; it is applied to those snails that have a simple shell which is more or less conical in shape, and either is not spirally coiled, or appears not to be coiled in the adult snails.The name limpet is most...

s, mussel
Mussel
The common name mussel is used for members of several families of clams or bivalvia mollusca, from saltwater and freshwater habitats. These groups have in common a shell whose outline is elongated and asymmetrical compared with other edible clams, which are often more or less rounded or oval.The...

s, nudibranch
Nudibranch
A nudibranch is a member of what is now a taxonomic clade, and what was previously a suborder, of soft-bodied, marine gastropod mollusks which shed their shell after their larval stage. They are noted for their often extraordinary colors and striking forms...

s, sculpin
Sculpin
A Sculpin is a fish that belongs to the order Scorpaeniformes, suborder Cottoidei and superfamily Cottoidea, that contains 11 families, 149 genera, and 756 species...

, sea cucumber, sea lettuce
Sea lettuce
The sea lettuces comprise the genus Ulva, a group of edible green algae that is widely distributed along the coasts of the world's oceans. The type species within the genus Ulva is Ulva lactuca Linnaeus, "lactuca" meaning lettuce...

, sea palms, sea star
Sea star
Starfish or sea stars are echinoderms belonging to the class Asteroidea. The names "starfish" and "sea star" essentially refer to members of the class Asteroidea...

s, sea urchin
Sea urchin
Sea urchins or urchins are small, spiny, globular animals which, with their close kin, such as sand dollars, constitute the class Echinoidea of the echinoderm phylum. They inhabit all oceans. Their shell, or "test", is round and spiny, typically from across. Common colors include black and dull...

s, shrimp
Shrimp
Shrimp are swimming, decapod crustaceans classified in the infraorder Caridea, found widely around the world in both fresh and salt water. Adult shrimp are filter feeding benthic animals living close to the bottom. They can live in schools and can swim rapidly backwards. Shrimp are an important...

, snail
Snail
Snail is a common name applied to most of the members of the molluscan class Gastropoda that have coiled shells in the adult stage. When the word is used in its most general sense, it includes sea snails, land snails and freshwater snails. The word snail without any qualifier is however more often...

s, sponges, surf grass
Phyllospadix scouleri
Phyllospadix scouleri, or Scouler's surf grass, is a flowering marine plant in the family Zosteraceae. It is native to the coastline of western North America from Alaska to Baja California....

, tube worm
Tube worm
A tube worm is a worm-like sessile invertebrate that anchors its tail to an underwater surface and secretes around its body a mineral tube, into which it can withdraw its entire body.Tube worms are found among the following taxa:...

s, and whelk
Whelk
Whelk, also spelled welk or even "wilks", is a common name used to mean one or more kinds of sea snail. The species, genera and families referred to using this common name vary a great deal from one geographic area to another...

s. Creatures in this area can grow to larger sizes because there is more available energy
Energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

 in the localized ecosystem. Also, marine vegetation can grow to much greater sizes than in the other three intertidal subregions due to the better water coverage. The water is shallow enough to allow plenty of light
Sunlight
Sunlight, in the broad sense, is the total frequency spectrum of electromagnetic radiation given off by the Sun. On Earth, sunlight is filtered through the Earth's atmosphere, and solar radiation is obvious as daylight when the Sun is above the horizon.When the direct solar radiation is not blocked...

 to reach the vegetation to allow substantial photosynthetic
Photosynthesis
Photosynthesis is a chemical process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight. Photosynthesis occurs in plants, algae, and many species of bacteria, but not in archaea. Photosynthetic organisms are called photoautotrophs, since they can...

 activity, and the salinity
Salinity
Salinity is the saltiness or dissolved salt content of a body of water. It is a general term used to describe the levels of different salts such as sodium chloride, magnesium and calcium sulfates, and bicarbonates...

 is at almost normal levels. This area is also protected from large predators such as fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 because of the wave action and the relatively shallow water.

Ecology

The intertidal region is an important model system for the study of ecology
Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

, especially on wave-swept rocky shores. The region contains a high diversity of species, and the zonation created by the tides causes species ranges to be compressed into very narrow bands. This makes it relatively simple to study species across their entire cross-shore range, something that can be extremely difficult in, for instance, terrestrial habitats that can stretch thousands of kilometres. Communities on wave-swept shores also have high turnover due to disturbance, so it is possible to watch ecological succession over years rather than decades.

Since the foreshore is alternately covered by the sea and exposed to the air, organisms living in this environment must have adaptions for both wet and dry conditions. Hazards include being smashed or carried away by rough waves, exposure to dangerously high temperatures, and desiccation. Typical inhabitants of the intertidal rocky shore include urchin
Urchin
Urchin or urcheon is the Middle English term for "hedgehog". As such, it is applied to many things that take a similar form to a hedgehog:* Street children, homeless children who live on the street...

s, sea anemone
Sea anemone
Sea anemones are a group of water-dwelling, predatory animals of the order Actiniaria; they are named after the anemone, a terrestrial flower. Sea anemones are classified in the phylum Cnidaria, class Anthozoa, subclass Zoantharia. Anthozoa often have large polyps that allow for digestion of larger...

s, barnacle
Barnacle
A barnacle is a type of arthropod belonging to infraclass Cirripedia in the subphylum Crustacea, and is hence related to crabs and lobsters. Barnacles are exclusively marine, and tend to live in shallow and tidal waters, typically in erosive settings. They are sessile suspension feeders, and have...

s, chitons, crabs, isopods, mussels, sea stars, and many marine gastropod molluscs such as limpets, whelks, and even octopuses.

Legal issues

As with the dry sand part of a beach, legal and political disputes can arise over the ownership and use of the foreshore. One recent example is the New Zealand foreshore and seabed controversy
New Zealand foreshore and seabed controversy
The New Zealand foreshore and seabed controversy is a debate in the politics of New Zealand. It concerns the ownership of the country's foreshore and seabed, with many Māori groups claiming that Māori have a rightful claim to title. These claims are based around historical possession and the Treaty...

. In legal discussions the foreshore is often referred to as the wet-sand area.

For privately-owned beaches in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, some states such as Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 use the low water mark as the dividing line between the property of the State and that of the beach owner. Other states such as California use the high water mark.

In the UK, the foreshore is generally deemed to be owned by the Crown
The Crown
The Crown is a corporation sole that in the Commonwealth realms and any provincial or state sub-divisions thereof represents the legal embodiment of governance, whether executive, legislative, or judicial...

 although there are notable exceptions, especially what are termed several fisheries which can be historic deeds to title, dating back to King John
John of England
John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

's time or earlier, and the Udal Law
Udal Law
Udal law is a near-defunct Norse derived legal system, which is found in Shetland and Orkney, Scotland and in Manx law at the Isle of Man. It is closely related to Odelsrett....

, which applies generally in Orkney and Shetland.

Other Media

The Intertidal Zone was used as a title for Stephen Hillenburg
Stephen Hillenburg
Stephen McDannell Hillenburg is an American animator, writer, producer, actor, voice actor, and director best known for creating the animated series SpongeBob SquarePants. He currently owns his own production company, United Plankton Pictures...

's old comic strip. The comic strip starred "Bob The Sponge", who would later go on to become SpongeBob SquarePants
SpongeBob SquarePants (character)
SpongeBob SquarePants is a main fictional character in the animated television series SpongeBob SquarePants. He is voiced by Tom Kenny and first appeared on television in the series' pilot episode "Help Wanted" on May 1, 1999. SpongeBob was created and designed by cartoonist Stephen Hillenburg...

.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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