Seasons in the Sea - A month-by-month guide to Central California sea life
Pigeon Point Lighthouse

About this web site

When you talk about the seasons, most people think of spring wildflowers, autumn leaves, winter storms... But the ocean, too, has its seasons, which are at least as dramatic as those on land. The difference is that changes in the sea are often invisible to us land dwellers.

My goal in putting together this web site is to show how these "seasons in the sea" play out along a particular stretch of California Coast. On a basic level, I have tried to describe how physical processes (winds, waves, currents, weather) change throughout the year. I also describe in detail how hundreds of different marine animals and algae respond to these changes. But just as important, I have tried to convey a sense of how these changes are vitally interconnected.

To emphasize the interconnections in the marine environment, I have given this web site a very broad scope. It not only describes seasonal change in the open ocean, but also in the kelp beds, the tide pools, the sandy beaches, and even the coastal estuaries. For all are connected by the continuous ebb and flow of salt water.

Map source: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
The area I have chosen stretches from about Point Reyes to Cambria--an area that roughly corresponds to the Cordell Banks, the Gulf of the Farallones, and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries. This area is not only relatively well studied, but is renowned for its abundant wildlife and natural beauty.

The Central Coast is a cherished environment, not only by many coastal residents, but by the millions of visitors who flock here from all over the world.

This web site is intended as a public resource for residents and visitors alike--a free source of information about the sea off Central California. A glimpse into a world that we rarely see, but is intimately linked with our daily lives. I hope that it inspires wonder and curiosity and a desire to preserve the diverse marine life of this area.

I initially started research on this topic for a book in about 2004. However, after five years of work, it became apparent that the large volume of material and is lack of "linearity" might be better presented in the form of a web site. Thus, within I can include many different ways of approaching the same information, as well as hyperlinks to side topics, color graphics, the ability to search the entire text, and many other features that would be difficult or extremely expensive to provide in a book.

That said, I hope some day to create a set of paper field guides or an electronic book based on this web site. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, this web site is very much a work-in-progress. I have written monthly describtions for January through May, and will be adding more over time. Similarly, I have not yet completed descriptive sections for all the various habitats and organisms. It all takes time...

So far, at least, this web site is the work of one person, Kim Fulton-Bennett. All of the text is copyright Kim Fulton-Bennett except for some images, which are credited in the alt-text wherever possible.

If you have comments about the web site, would like to become a collaborator in this work, would like to offer other support, or would like to receive updates on the progress of the site, please send an email to:



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