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Wave-Swept Shore

The Rigors of Life on a Rocky Coast

Mimi A. R. Koehl (Author), Anne Wertheim Rosenfeld (Photographer)

Take a close look at a wave-battered coast and you will discover a rich, fascinating, and remarkably brutal environment. Here, animals and plants exposed to wind, sun, and rain at low tide must cope with crashing waves as the seas rise to submerge them each day at high tide. How do living things survive in this harsh zone? With 87 stunning color photographs and an engaging text written for those with little or no knowledge of marine biology or physics, this book tells the story of one stretch along the Pacific coast of North America—introducing the mussels, limpets, crabs, grasses, starfish, kelp, and other animals and plants that live there, and explaining how they function and flourish in an environment of waves, sand, and rocks.

In pictures and words, Wave-Swept Shore explains complex phenomena, such as wave action, using simple, intuitive analogies. It explores how the forms of animals and plants affect their survival in this harsh environment, considers their distribution on the shore, and looks at their seasonal variations, focusing on what can be easily observed by visitors to the coast. Revealing the rich variety of habitats woven into what may at first look like a fairly uniform environment, the book, an effective and beautiful tool for learning about the edge of oceans everywhere, opens our eyes to the wonders of rocky shores and introduces a whole new way of looking at the natural world.

1. Place and Scale
2. Water and Life on the Shore
3. Waves
4. Flow, Force, and Fracture
5. Transport
6. Stranded, High and Dry
7. Changes
8. Stepping Back

Additional Reading
Mimi Koehl,, the Virginia G. and Robert E. Gill Professor of Natural History in the Department of Intergrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, studies the physics of marine organisms. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, winner of a MacArthur Fellowship ("genius grant") and of the Borelli Award for outstanding career accomplishment in the field of biomechanics. Anne Wertheim Rosenfeld is a photographer and writer whose work has appeared in the magazines Bay Nature, Oceans, and Geo; in books by Jacques Cousteau and David Attenborough; and in numerous other texts. She is author of The Intertidal Wilderness: A Photographic Journey Through Pacific Coast Tidepools (revised edition, California, 2002). She is also a fine art photographer.
“‘Wave-Swept Shore’ is a beautiful book that feels good in one’s hands. the photographs by Anne Wertheim Rosenfeld show the rich textures life creates as it crowds into crevices, caves and pools or clings to rock faces. They combine with Koehl’s lucid explanations to make scientific principles easy to understand, and help the reader to see how life and place are integrated.”—HMH California Coast & Ocean
“Eight-seven of [Rosenfeld’s] exquisite pictures of the creatures and micro-inhabitants along a short stretch of California coast provide an eye-catching and instructive accompaniment to Koehl’s descriptive prose.”—Natural History
"Wave-Swept Shore is a spectacular integration of superb nature photography synthesized into a brilliantly lucid explanation of difficult science. This book belongs on the shelf of anybody interested in the seashore."—Paul K. Dayton, recipient of the George Mercer and William S. Cooper Awards from the Ecological Society of America and the E. O. Wilson Naturalist Award from the American Society of Naturalists

"Wave-Swept Shore wonderfully combines science and art, providing the reader with an accessible understanding of the incredibly complex coastal ecosystem. In the spirit of Rachel Carson, this book opens our eyes to the wonders of this harsh environment. Anne Wertheim Rosenfeld's photographs are simply beautiful, and at the same time, they describe the shoreline in rich detail. Her images elegantly portray both the art and science of her subjects."—William Neill, author of Landscapes of the Spirit and Traces of Time and Yosemite: The Promise of Wildness

"Wave-Swept Shore allows the non-specialist to interpret and appreciate life in the remarkable rocky shore habitats of western North America and beyond. Koehl deftly explains how the animals and plants cope with this extreme environment while Rosenfeld illustrates the striking forms and patterns that result. Anyone who enjoys the seashore will enjoy this book; some may even plan to visit the beach because of it."—Richard Strathmann, Professor of Biology, University of Washington

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