Marine Intertidal Sand: Semi-Protected

These sands begin to have some silt mixed in with them and are more stable, making them a more favorable environment for burrowing and for deposit-feeding organisms.  These habitats are found in bays and inlets with some wave action, and often are bordered at their upper edges by salt marshes.  The shallow water fish fauna in these habitats provides food for seals and for a variety of local and migratory birds, including mew gulls, grebes, and great blue herons.

Diagnostic Species

The clams Macoma secta, Tellina bodegensis and Transennella tantilla; the burrowing sea cucumber Leptosynapta clarki, the lugworm Abarenicola claparedi, the tanaid crustacean Leptochelia savignyi, and sand sole.

Common Associates

Zostera marina may occur in low zones, as may the sand dollar Dendraster excentricus and the moon snail Polinices lewisii.  Other species in these sometimes rich assemblages include the ghost shrimp Callianassa californiensis, the clams Tellina modesta, Macoma balthica and others; the polychaetes Malacoceros glutaeus (=Rhynchospio arenincola), Axiothella rubrocincta, Owenia fusiformis, and many others.  Seines tend to catch Cancer magister and gracilis, and diverse shrimp, including Crangon alaskensis, Pandalus spp., and Heptacarpus brevirostris.  Sole, salmonids and sculpin (especially Pacific staghorn) feed extensively in these habitats.  This is a spawning habitat for surf smelt, and is used by larvae of sand lance and candlefish.

Sites Surveyed

Alexander’s Beach (Fidalgo Island), False Bay (low zones), Jamestown.


Pamatmat, 1966; Shelford et al., 1935; Cross et al., 1978; Nyblade, 1979b; H. Wilson and C. Staude unpubl. data.