New from the University of California Press

Wave-Swept Shore





“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 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


"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.  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

“Successful symbiosis…takes place between organisms whose disparate talents complement each other to the benefit of both…Algae and anemones form a partnership that works.
    So too do Mimi Koehl and Anne Wertheim Rosenfeld.  Koehl, a Berkeley professor, is an expert in biomechanics.  She has made her mark in studying how the structures of organisms help them function in particular environments…. Rosenfeld, by contrast, is a veteran nature photographer;  eighty-seven of her exquisite pictures of the creatures and microhabitats along a stretch of California coast provide an eye-catching and instructive accompaniment to Koehl’s descriptive prose.
   Wave-Swept Shore is a field guide not to the creatures that inhabit the intertidal zone, but to the processes that enable them to live together in such a challenging habitat….
…’Try to feel the environment met by the animals and plants clinging to these rocks’, Koehl advises.  Together, she and Rosenfeld ably do just that…”

-- Laurence A. Marschall, in Bookshelf
NATURAL HISTORY, Vol. 115, May 2006


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.

About the Author

Mimi Koehl, the Gill Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, studies the physics of marine organisms. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, winner of a MacArthurFellowship ("genius grant"), a Guggenheim Fellowship, and of the Borelli Award for outstanding career accomplishment in the field of biomechanics.

About the Photographer

Anne Wertheim Rosenfeld, is a photographer and writer whose work as appeared in the magazines Bay Nature, Oceans, and Geo; in books by Jacques Cousteau and David Attenborough; and in many 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.

See more of Anne W. Rosenfeld's work

In University of California Press catalogue