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Elkhorn Slough and Beach Area - Collecting Journal and Maps, 1962 - 63

Map showing collection areas around Elkhorn Slough.

Collecting in the area of Elkhorn Slough was severely limited due to lack of accessible shoreline. As indicated on the enclosed map, only four areas within the mouth of the slough itself were readily accessible and covered. Except for these areas and two other small areas in the extreme upper reaches of the slough, the entire shoreline of the rest of Elkhorn Slough was fenced and posted private property.

An important point in considering the scarcity or complete absence of many groups of animals not found in this area was the scarcity of such attaching media as rocks and pilings. This is no doubt one of the basic reasons for the absence or scarcity of attaching or under rock forms such as sponges, hydroids, anemones, barnacles, flatworms, chitons, limpets, starfish, brittlestars, cucumbers, nudibranchs and tunicates. Of the 62 species found in this area, the vast majority of them were burrowing animals living beneath the surface of mud or sand.

Once again this collection record includes only those more conspicuous and common forms personally collected between the limits of the highest high tide and the lowest low tide in the area indicated. Only live specimens found are included here.

For collecting information for the surrounding areas, such as Pacific Grove and 17-Mile Drive, see here.

Map showing collecting areas around the Elkhorn Slough area

A short description of the areas that were covered may he of use in considering the various species collected:

Area #1 consisted of a flat stretch of approximately ½ mile of firm sandy mud just inside the main highway bridge. The upper zone was scattered with a few small to medium size rocks and beds of Zostera that were uncovered at a good minus tide. This area was particularly good for collecting Schizothaerus and Saxidomus spp.

Area #2 located just outside this same highway bridge was again a little less than ½ mile long and made up of firm sandy mud. It also had a few scattered medium size rocks in the upper zone but it was much less attractive as a collecting area due to the fact that the beach was much more steeply inclined and thus at a low tide much less horizontal flat was exposed. No Zostera was seen here.

Area #3 consisted of one side of a ¾ mile long inlet just inside the mouth of the slough as the other side of this inlet was largely taken up by a small boat harbor. There were no rocks to speak of on this stretch of firm to soft sandy mudflat but at a good minus tide both extensive Zostera beds and a long thin sandy mud bar in the middle of the shallow inlet were exposed.

Area #4 was a large swampy marsh and due to the presence of tidal gates separating and restricting it from the full effects of the tidal fluctuations of the rest of the slough, very little in the way of inter-tidal invertebrate life was found here.

Area #5 was a stretch of exposed sandy beach approximately 2 miles long. It was located outside the mouth of Elkhorn Slough and thus was populated by a distinctly different group of species than those found within the protection of the slough. This sandy stretch of beach was completely devoid of rocks and received the full impact of the surf on its gradually sloping shoreline.

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Elkhorn Beach

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Moss Landing Power Plant
Its 500 foot tall stacks tower over Elkhorn Slough.

Elkhorn Slough tidal flats at low tide

Elkhorn Slough Tidal Flats
The Slough is one of the largest salt marshes in California.

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