At low tide, sandy bottoms of beach are exposed for shorebirds to forage for crabs, worms, and other invertebrates. Many bird species, including brown pelicans and sanderlings also use the beaches for roosting, feeding and/or nesting.
Sand dunes are highly dynamic – their position and form constantly shifting in response to wind, wave erosion, and sand supply. Native dune plants like the seacliff buckwheat and coast buckwheat rely on these constant changes for its survival. Without these plants, the endangered Smith’s blue butterfly would cease to exist. Other wildlife species that may occur in this habitat include gopher snakes and California legless lizards.
Three threatened and endangered plants have been found in the dunes.
Salt marsh is one of the most productive habitats on Earth and is the foundation of many food webs. Large shorebirds, dabbling ducks, herons, and egrets frequent these habitats, as well as mammals such as muskrats and deer mice.
The saline pond is flooded periodically by the tide and the Salinas River, which maintains the balance of fresh and salt water in and around its banks. Many waterbirds such as Caspian terns and mallards can be seen around the saline pond feeding in the mud or nesting on the bank.
Rivers carve channels, carry and deposit sediments and create valuable wildlife habitat as they journey to meet the ocean. The Salinas River lagoon, where the ocean waters mix with fresh river waters, provides important roosting sites for endangered California brown pelicans, nesting sites for the threatened western snowy plover, and feeding areas for fish such as the Sacramento blackfish and Sacramento sucker.
Comprised mostly of coyote brush and native grasses such as wild rye and California barley, these uplands on the refuge are one of the largest areas of open upland habitat in the Monterey Bay area. The uplands provide habitat for many animal species such as the gopher snake, black-tailed jackrabbit, and California quail.
Page Photo Credits Dunes/Larry Wade, Sanderlings on Beach/Larry Wade, Dunes/Aric Crabb, Salt Marsh/Aric Crabb, Saline Pond/Tim Kask, Salinas River/Larry Wade, Deer in Grassland/Aric Crabb
Last Updated: Jan 08, 2013