Field Book of Seashore Life

Field Book of Seashore Life

Field Book of Seashore Life

Field Book of Seashore Life

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is to serve as a compact manual of the more common invertebrate animals inhabiting the shallow oceanic waters of the Atlantic Coast of North America from Labrador to the Cape Hatteras region of North Carolina. In breadth, the territory covered extends from the upper tide limit to the edge of the Continental Shelf. It includes, first, the tidal zone, that coastal belt which is alternately covered and exposed by the sea twice a day; and second, the region of shallow water which begins at the lower tidal limit at a depth of zero inches and extends, gradually deepening, until it reaches a sounding of about too fathoms (600 feet), at the edge of the terrace known as the Continental Shelf, beyond which the Continental Slope descends at a steeper gradient to the floor of the ocean, at a depth of about 2 ½ miles. It deals therefore with the animal life of the shallow temperate waters of our eastern seaboard. South of Cape Hatteras the sea is much warmer and embraces the region of coral reefs and other tropical marine life not included in this volume.

The book is intended first of all for the layman who has become interested in the invertebrate sea animals he has chanced to pick up along the shore; second, for the student whose attention is more seriously drawn to the life of the seas; and third, for the research worker who, it is hoped, will find it of service as a handy reference book, because its convenient form permits rapid orientation of the species concerned in his work. It is by no means exhaustive, since it would be impossible to include all of the thousands of species known to science from this region without swelling the work to undue proportions and thus defeat the avowed aim of compactness.

Necessarily, the subject matter must embrace the researches of numerous investigators, whose reports are embodied in large volumes or scattered through a great variety of scientific journals, most of which are inaccessible to the average student of sea life or involve timeconsuming search through volumes and files in specialized libraries in scientific institutions. The writer remembers well when, as a young man, beginning his studies of marine invertebrates, he was continually baffled in his endeavors to identify species commonly occurring in his catches by the time necessary, first, to run down the appropriate literature, and then to handle the many and often . . .

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