Sandy Beach Life

We share Southern California sandy beaches with a variety of plants and critters — some we can see, others like to hide.

Beach hopper

Sand Dwellers

The beach hopper is a common sand dwelling creature on Southern California beaches. Other small animals, such as two intertital roly polies, were once common but are rarely found on groomed beaches in Southern California. Learn more

Wrack on beach

Wrack Community

Kelp that has washed up on the beach is a source of food and shelter for many beach inhabitants. This important part of the beach ecosystem often is removed from popular beaches. Learn more

Grunion mating on sandy beach


A variety of fishes make a living in the surf zone of sandy beaches but one Southern California fish actually comes right up on the beach! Grunion come on shore to mate and lay their eggs in the sand. Learn more

Beach evening primrose


The beach evening primrose, rooted in the dunes and showered by sea spray, is a beautiful native plant that thrives at the upper edge of the beach. Discover other plants in the coastal strand plant community including those that help construct sand dunes.

Snowy plover chick


Many shorebirds can be found on Southern California's beaches including the rare Western Snowy Plover. These chicks are born and raised on the sand. Learn more.

Northern elephant seal


The beach is important for a variety of furry critters including sea lions and several types of seals. Learn more

sand berm

Sand Movement

Sand movement is dynamic and fundamentally important to life on the sandy beach. Learn More.