General InformationMore than half of Assateague Island National Seashore's 48,000 acres is comprised of near-shore and estuarine waters, and the interplay between these waters and the barrier island affects nearly every aspect of life in this dynamic coastal environment.
Despite the often harsh conditions that occur in a coastal environment, a wide variety of animal species have managed to find a niche on Assateague Island. Each of the island’s different ecological zones provides habitat for a multitude of animals, including birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. While Assateague’s wild horses are perhaps the island’s best-known inhabitants, other large mammals also roam the park, grazing and browsing on low-lying vegetation. These include the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)and the non-native sika deer (Cervus japonica), a diminutive species of Asian elk introduced to Assateague during the 1920s.