Coasts & Islands
With massive development, along the roughly 200km coastal strip, the shore line habitats have been affected, perhaps more than any other by man. Not only have there been high levels of development and construction, right down to the water’s edge in many places, but the summer sees the beaches and rocky shores packed with swimmers and sun worshipers. Never the less there are still wild places and wild life survives in some of the most unlikely places.
The coastal habitats can be divided into rocky and sandy shores, cliffs and small estuaries.
What wildlife to look for and where:
The Mediterranean has a very small tidal range, compared with most seas, so the intertidal zone is condensed into a small band and the characteristic zonation of plants and animals is less apparent. However, because the difference between high and low tide is so small (less than ½ m) the shallows are rich in marine creatures such as crabs, fish and mollusks, the Common Octopus (Octopus vulgaris), Right, is quite frequent for example.
Amongst other places good intertidal pools can be found off the Corniche, Ras Beirut and at Byblos near the harbor.
Sandy & Muddy Shores :
During the summer sandy shores are at a premium for recreation, however, these soft sediments are the home to their own special wild inhabitants. The best way to appreciate just how many sea snails etc live here is to take a walk along the tide line after a winter gale – vast numbers of empty shells of all shapes and sizes will appear. In certain very special places sand builds up in great piles – and is colonized by plants that stabilize it creating sand dunes. These are very important for wildlife particularly for lizards (the Wall Lizard, Lacerta laevis right, is common) and plants – including the spectacular Sea Daffodil (Pancratium maritimum), right. In a few localities the endangered Green and Loggerhead Turtles come up to breed.
The best examples of sandy shores and sand dunes are found at the Nature Reserves of Palm Islands and Tyre Coast.
At the few muddy shores–small areas at the mouths of rivers etc. it is worth looking out for wading birds such as plovers, stints and sandpipers. The best place along the coast for these species is at the salinas at Cheik Zanad, north of Tripoli.
Sea Watching :
The other wildlife watching you can do from pretty well any where on the coast is to look out to sea! Particularly from headlands – such as Ras Beirut, and Ras Cheka it is worth doing some sea watching. In the winter Gulls are common and often gather in huge flocks feeding off schooling fish that come in close to shore. Much rarer, but possible to see close to land are Bottle nosed Dolphins (Tursiops truncates) also after the fish. Following winter storms truly marine species such as Gannets and Shearwaters can be spotted from headlands. In spring and fall the coast is an important route for migrating birds – keep an eye out for Pelicans, Grey Herons, Egrets and Cormorants as some of the more spectacular species.