Field Guides

A few of my favorite field guides
A few of my favorite field guides

I’m always thinking about the intertidal, so field guides and reference books pertaining to the seashore are a big part of my life.  On February 13, I posted this photo on theoutershores’ Facecebook page, and posed the question, “Do you have a favorite field guide?” I thought the photo was evocative, but the response to my question was underwhelming.  I’ve decided I’m going to risk another crack at it here.

A few more TOS field guides and references
A few more TOS field guides and references

Here’s a stack of TOS field guides and references, including some of my favorites.  It might surprise you to know that most of these are applicable anywhere from California to Alaska, USA.  My all-time favorite is Between Pacific Tides by Ricketts and Calvin. If you follow TOS, you already know I can’t get enough of that.  Next, The Light and Smith Manual; it’s no picture book. You’ve got to be an intertidal stud to spend a lot of time alone with Light’s.  Kozloff’s Seashore Life of the Northern Pacific Coast is fantastic; kind of a modern Between Pacific Tides.  Milt Love for fishes; but it’s hard not to have a soft spot for venerable Miller and Lea.  Finally, Whelks to Whales by Harbo and The Beach Comber’s Guide to Seashore Life by J. Duane Sept; I could browse the photos in those two all day long, and have.

What’s your favorite field guide or natural history reference?


Harbo, R. M. 2007. Shells & Shellfish of the Pacific Northwest. 3rd printing. Harbour Publishing.

Kozloff, E. N. 1993. Seashore Life of the Northern Pacific Coast. 3rd ed. University of Washington Press.

Light, S. F., 2007. The Light & Smith Manual: Intertidal Invertebrates from Central California to Oregon. 4th ed., edited by J. T. Carlton. University of California Press.

Love, M. 1996. Probably more than you want to know about the fishes of the Pacific coast. Really Big Press, Santa Barbara, California.

Miller, D. J. and R. N. Lea. 1972. Guide to the Coastal Marine Fishes of California. California Fish Bulletin Number 157. California Department of Fish and Game, Sacramento.

Ricketts, E. W. and J. Calvin. 1968. Between Pacific Tides. 4th ed., revised by J. W. Hedgpeth. Stanford University Press.

Sept. J. D. 2009. The Beachcomber’s Guide to Seashore Life in the Pacific Northwest. Revised ed. Harbour Publishing.