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Reefkeepers Animals

Many different animals utilize reefs in B.C., relying on reef habitat for shelter, a place to find food, or as a place for attachment. Reef dwelling animals can vary in size, shape, colour, and life cycle. Animals are an important part of the complex relationships within the reef community.

Reefkeepers survey marine animals in three passes. Animals are grouped into each pass based on their behaviour and mobility.

Pass 1: Swimming and Hiding Fish
Fishes are included in the first pass. They are most mobile, easily attracted to or scared away by divers. These fishes occupy the reef on or just above its surface; examples include the rockfish and grunt sculpins.

Pass 2: Highly Mobile Invertebrates
These include crabs and shrimps.

Pass 3: Other Invertebrates
The non-motile and slowly moving invertebrates are surveyed in the thrid pass. This category includes a wide variety of animals such as sea anemones, tubeworms, nudibranchs ('sea slugs'), chitons, bivalves, snails, sea stars, sea cucumbers, sea squirts, and barnacles.

We cannot show all of the reef animal species here. Our intent is to give you a general overview, and provide some ideas of where you can find reference materials with the appropriate information. These references take many forms, including relevant Internet sites, identification guidebooks or experts in the field whose help you may want to enlist for your project.

Here are some web sites that may help you find out more about the animals found on B.C. reefs:

B.C. Creature Page (
The Slug Site (

For more information on how to identify reef animals, see the following identification guide books:

Eschmeyer, W.N., E.S. Herald, and H. Hammann. (1983). The Peterson Field Guide Series: A Field Guide to Pacific Coast Fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

Gotshall, D.W. (1981). Pacific Coast Inshore Fishes. Sea Challengers, Los Osos, California.

Gotshall, D.W. and L.L. Laurent. (1979). Pacific Coast Subtidal Marine Invertebrates: A Fishwatchers' Guide. Sea Challengers, Los Osos, California.

Harbo, R.M. (1980). Tidepool & Reef: Marinelife Guide to the Pacific Northwest Coast. Hancock House Publishers Ltd. Surrey, B.C., Canada.

Johnson, M.E. and H.J. Snook. (1955). Seashore Animals of the Pacific Coast. Dover Publications, Inc., New York.

Kozlof, E.N. (1993). Seashore Life of the Northern Pacific Coast: An Illustrated Guide to Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. University of Washington Press, Seattle, Washington.

Lamb, A. and P. Edgell. (1986). Coastal Fishes of the Pacific Northwest. Harbour Publishing, Madeira Park, B.C., Canada.