I’ve collected several field guides to the peculiar plants and curious creatures living along the coast of PEI, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Maine, and the other US states of the north east. They vary from pamphlet slim booklets to thick read-at-the-hotel-room books. Here’s my opinion of 5 of them.
Please share your own review by sending a Comment. Recommendations of titles I need to read are also very welcome!
Canada’s Atlantic Seashore
Jeffrey C. Domm
I like this small book because it includes a lot of information in a small, colourful, easily used package that is fun to share with younger children.
- Young children
- Readers with moderate interest and not much beach and shore life identifying experience.
- Colourful clear illustrations
- Simple graphic tells whether common in a sand beach or mud flat etc.
- A little bit of everything so children can find something that is in the book even in the rain
- Some fun facts
- Introduces many types of coastal life from marine animals like jellyfish, anemones and shellfish, to common plants, mammals, and birds
- Not enough detail to positively identify specific organisms such as sea stars
- Mostly just identification information, not many details about how an organism behaves or interacts with its environment
Size: 96 pages. Hand-sized.
Seashores of the Maritimes
Merritt Gibson. Illustrated by Twila Robar-DeCoste.
I like this book because it is at the other extreme: it is a detailed sit-and-read book not just a quick id guide. It has the most detailed listings for a variety of organisms (shellfish, marine creatures, plants, birds, fish, land animals) of any book I’ve found for the Maritimes.
As an aside, before reading this book, I didn’t know there were Boring Sponges. In fact, I mistakenly thought all sponges were kind of dull.
- Adults and young adults
- Looking for more details after making a general identification from a simpler field guide
- Clearly organized
- Well illustrated
- Covers plants and animals in a fair amount of detail
- Nice mixture of quick id information and more detailed discussion of habits, habitats and human interactions
- The illustrations are grey pencil sketches which while clear are not as appealing as colour
Size: 346 pages. Medium-sized paperback.
Peterson First Guides Seashores
John C. Kricher. Illustrated by Gordon Morrison.
I often find the Peterson First Guides are more useful for adults than I would expect. Operating under the “you are most likely to see the most common creatures” rule, it only describes the most abundant or easily spotted seashells, plants, birds and animals of the coast.
That said, I don’t particularly like this book. It tries to cover too many types of shores from north to south on both coasts. This makes it hard to quickly decide whether a creature could be where you are. It also makes the illustrations too small and crowded. I don’t regret buying the book, but it’s not my favourite.
- Families with older children or adults
- Readers wanting to make a general identification only.
- A large variety of common creatures are described
- Colour illustrations
- Good if you can only get one book and plan to visit coasts from north to south
- The illustrations are too small. It would have been better to crowd them a bit but make them clearer by enlarging them
- By trying to cover all North American seashores, it also gets a bit overwhelmed and loses focus
Size: 128 pages. Map shaped.
Eastern Tidepool and Reef: North Atlantic Marine LifeDr. C. Harvey-Clark.
Tip: Look for this kind of book in local gift shops and tourist stores. I found it in the gift shop at a national park.
This is a good book for tidal pools full of sea life that you can’t touch or lift out, like anemones, fish, sponges and other creatures that must stay immersed.
- Readers wanting some interesting facts about their finds.
- Clear bright photographs
- Good for identifying organisms that live in the water of tidepools including shrimp, jellyfish, worms, sponges, turnicates, fish etc.
- Given the slender size, it manages to cram a lot of information as well as identification info into the book. For example, if the photo will clearly identify the organism, it uses the text to provide details about its life cycle, habits, enemies, etc.
- The book is limited by its length to only introducing some of the tidal wonders
Size: 64 pages. Pamphlet slender.
Seashells of the Northeast Coast from Cape Hatteras to NewfoundlandJulius Gordon and Townsend E. Weeks.
Tip: Look for this kind of book in local gift shops and tourist stores.
This is a shell guide not a living creature guide. It’s a bit technical in its descriptions of the shell markings. I like that it is focused on northern shells, rather than the tropical shells of say, Florida. That makes it faster to find the shells I want.
- Clear photographs
- A diagram and glossary explain the identification terms they will use before you move into the actual id pages
- Given the short length, there isn’t a lot of room to spare
Size: 64 pages. Pamphlet slender.
What books do you like and dislike and why? Please share your comments. I’m always looking for another good book!