Estuarine, intertidal, mixed coarse, open, eulittoral

Most open estuarine intertidal sites in the Puget Trough have a poorly sorted substratum of mixed cobble, gravel, and sand, often distributed in patches along the beach.  Some small boulders, which are relatively stable, often overlie other substrata.  As in the corresponding marine habitat type, organisms in these habitats are diverse, with both epibiota (plants and animals) and infauna. Given the paucity of bedrock habitat in Puget Sound, cobbles in these habitats harbor a large proportion of the algal beds seen. Eelgrass beds often lie just subtidally of these beaches where the substratum becomes less coarse.  These beaches are used as feeding areas by cutthroat trout, juvenile salmon (chum and pink), fish-eating birds such as cormorants, grebes, loons, mergansers, and great blue herons, and bivalve-eating birds such as scoters and goldeneyes.

Habitat attributes

Class ID: 
Class name: 
Estuarine, intertidal, mixed coarse, open, eulittoral
2.0 km (in WA)
Primary substrate: 
Secondary substrate: 
Tertiary substrate: 
Substrate stability: 
Semi-stable surface features
Substrate key details: 
Some stable surface features (cobbles)
Wave exposure: 
Blue book classes: 
Estuarine intertidal mixed-coarse: Open
Map/survey site examples: 
Richmond Beach, Carkeek Park, many other Puget Sound sites; Kiket Island, Cherry Point, Lummi Island; Shannon Point
Fish sampling sites: 
Beach Seine: Guemes Island SE
Diagnostic species: 
  • Ulva spp.
  • Leukoma staminea
  • Macoma inquinata
  • Phoronopsis harmeri
  • Owenia collaris
  • Mediomastus
  • Notomastus tenuis
  • Lepidopsetta bilineata
  • Pleuronichthys coenosus
  • Psettichthys melanostictus
  • Myoxocephalus polyacanthocephalus
  • Leptocottus armatus
VEC common associates: 
Saxidomus gigantea
Tresus capax
Venerupis philippinarum
Cancer productus
Crassostrea gigas
Species notes: