What type of coast can be found on every island in The Bahamas? Often overlooked because of its common occurrence, rocky shores are an important Bahamian ecosystem. They not only serve as a barrier of protection against hurricanes and storms, but are home to an abundance of life both above and below the surface.
Rocky shores are divided into different zones according to how often they are covered in water, from the spray zone, to the intertidal zone and then into zone that is always covered in water. Over time the tide and waves wear down the limestone forming undercuts, cliffs, caves, ridges, cracks and other formations. The limestone comes in many colors and textures, from smooth and greyish white to needle sharp and blackish brown. Water splashing up through holes in the rock form blow holes with water spraying out that look and sound similar to a whales blow hole, as if the ocean is breathing.
Shore birds frequent rocky shores feasting on curbs, whelks, crustaceans and other small animals found hiding in tidal pools at low tide. Oyster catches are often seen with their strong red bills smashing open shells, while herons stalk prey in the shallow tidal pools. Some bird species also use the rocky shores for nesting and laying eggs, such as tropic birds and killykadicks.
A diversity of plants and animals are found below the water as well. Algae of all different colors cover the rocks. Sea urchins and brittle starfish cling in rocky crevices. Octopuses make their dens under ledges, rearranging shells around the entrance. Small colorful fish dart among the corals, finding hiding places among friendly sea anemones and flowers.
If you take the time to stop and take a look at rocky shores you will find there is much to see and do in this typically unnoticed environment. Kids love to explore the tidal pools, teaming with little fish and crabs, but be careful not to step on sea urchins! Snorkeling along the shoreline you will be amazed at how much life lies just along the islands edge!