Estuarine, intertidal, mixed coarse, partly enclosed, eulittoral

This is the most commonly mapped habitat type in the Salish Sea. Most 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. Clams often thrive in this sediment because it is hard for predators to dig to them. 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, partly enclosed, eulittoral
792.0 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: 
Semi-protected, Protected
Blue book classes: 
Estuarine intertidal mixed-coarse: Open
Map/survey site examples: 
Much of Puget Sound shorelines; in Shorezone, these sites are mapped as "partly enclosed" (66) rather than "open" (65). Also includes much of Sequim Bay, Discovery Bay (incl Beckett Point)
Fish sampling sites: 
Beach Seine: Shannon Point, Guemes Island NE, Legoe Bay, Cherry Point, Seahurst, (Three Tree Point), Point Pully, Aquarium (SE Vashon Park),Tramp Harbor, Saltwater State Park, Tatsolo Point
Diagnostic species: 
  • Ulva spp.
  • Leukoma staminea
  • Macoma inquinata
  • Phoronopsis harmeri
  • Owenia collaris
  • Mediomastus
  • Notomastus tenuis
  • Parophrys vetulus
  • Cymatogaster aggregata
  • Lepidopsetta bilineata
  • Embiotoca lateralis
  • Leptocottus armatus
  • Aulorhynchus flavidus
  • Enophrys bison
VEC common associates: 
Saxidomus gigantea
Tresus capax
Venerupis philippinarum
Cancer productus
Crassostrea gigas
Species notes: