Nanaimo author Rick Harbo releases revised Pacific Reef and Shore: A Photo Guide to Northwest Marine Life

Harbo’s guide helps people identify marine life

Vancouver Island’s shoreline and ocean waters contain a diverse range of marine life.

To help residents identify the abundance of life in the area, Nanaimo author Rick M. Harbo has released a revised second edition of Pacific Reef and Shore: A Photo Guide to Northwest Marine Life, released by Harbour Publishing.

The first edition was released in 2003 and contained more than 300 photographs of the most common plants and animals found in the intertidal zone.

Harbo created a second edition to his guide book because there have been a number of changes in the scientific names of marine life and he is constantly looking for better photos of the different species to allow people to easily identify them.

Harbo said he created the guide so it is light and compact so people can take it with them during outings to the seashore.

Pacific Reef and Shore is small and light and people can throw it in their backpack or people can take it into their kayaks. It’s portable,” said Harbo. “A lot of people go for walks on the beach and really don’t pay attention to the depth and diversity of marine life there. We have one of the richest environments for animal and sea life.”

The second edition is divided into sections on marine animals, fish, bivalves and lampshells, corals and anemones and others.

Each listing identifies a species and has a photo and brief description to help people identify it. Harbo said the guide is meant to get people interested in the diversity of marine life. If people want to learn further more detailed scientific information they can turn to his book Whelks to Whales, said Harbo.

Harbo’s book focuses on species found in B.C. waters, but because the area is an open marine environment many of the species can be found in the area stretching from Alaska to northern California.

Harbo said new species are continually being discovered.

“Every time I go out I learn something new,” said Harbo.

He released his first book Tidepool and Reef in the 1980s. Since that time, he has also released The Edible Seashore, Guide to the Western Seashore and Shells, Shellfish of the Pacific Northwest and Whelks to Whales.

Harbo is a retired senior marine biologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. He currently works as a research associate at the Royal B.C. Museum and is an active diver.

For more information about Pacific Reef and Shore: A Photo Guide to Northwest Marine Life, please visit

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