On the Beach and in the Bay

Visiting Cape May without going to the beach is like visiting Florida without going to the Everglades! In days gone by, the Cape May Geographic Society held regular shows and competitions for people to display their beach finds. Shell collections were big news in those days, and something that people of all ages could take part in and enjoy. Sadly these days, beach raking has ended this hobby for many people on large sections of our beaches and those interested in exploring the wrack line have limited places to search. But some spots still exist, especially around the inlets between the barrier islands, and this guide will hopefully help beach explorers to identify their finds.

As we explore the beach around the curve of an inlet, we will sooner or later find ourselves in the muddier back bays. Since there is no clear cut off line between these two habitats - and since many creatures move freely between the saltmarsh channels and the open inlets and beaches - this page also covers the smaller animals that may be chanced upon in the back bay saltmarshes too. For plants of these habitats, use the plant ID Guide section of this site, while higher animals such as reptiles and mammals will also be found under their own headings.

Click on the pictures below to go to the group that you are interested in.
(For a list of all species included in this section of the site, click here)

Knobbed Whelk Surf Clam Ghost Crab
Single-shelled Mollusks


Crabs, shrimps & relatives

Atlantic Horseshoecrab Shipworm Seaweeds
Wrackline -
Soft objects
Wrackline -
Hard objects

Plumed Worm
Other intertidal creatures