The Elkhorn Slough is a magical place full of wildlife and beauty. Meandering seven miles inland from the coast in the center of the picturesque Monterey Bay, the Elkhorn Slough harbors the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California outside of San Francisco Bay. This biologically rich estuary provides habitat for a diversity of resident and migratory birds, plants, marine mammals and fish, and has been identified as a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Birding Conservancy.
High concentration of Southern sea otters – reaching more than 125 individuals – resides in the slough. Hundreds of harbor seals loaf along the shore and large groups of California sea lions add a raucous chorus to the slough in the spring. As part of the Pacific flyway tens of thousands of birds migrate through every year. All told, over 340 species of birds have been identified in and around the slough.
This rich palette of dynamic life features rare plants, animals and habitats – from oak woodlands and maritime chaparral to marshes and wetlands.
Yet, along with the beauty and diverse habitat for wildlife, these wetlands provide a critical service to the environment. As natural filters, wetlands can remove impurities from the water before it enters our streams and oceans. Wetlands are also incredible carbon sequesters — removing and storing greenhouse gases from the earth’s atmosphere to slow the onset of global warming.
Unsustainable farming practices, development, and other environmental stressors threaten the slough’s health and native habitats. The Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and Elkhorn Slough Foundation, along with our partners the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, work to conserve, protect, restore, and share this amazing and unique environment.
You can be our partner too, and together we will ensure future generations can explore and discover the wonders of Elkhorn Slough.