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

Section contents:

Coastal estuary; Image credit: City of Mountain View

Coastal estuaries

in November and December

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Diver-at-work symbol (c) Kim Fulton-Bennett This page under construction.
Here are some of the topics that will be covered in this chapter. More text and images will eventually be added to this section. Thank you for your patience.

Estuary events in November and December:

  • Many shore birds (including least sandpipers, western sandpipers, dunlins, surfbirds, and turnstones.) overwinter on beaches and in the slough throughout the winter.
  • Many other water birds, including ducks, geese, herons, and loons, overwinter in Central Coast estuaries.
  • In November, young moon snails switch from eating green algae to preying on young clams that settled down into the slough during the previous summer and fall.
  • Gray smoothhounds (a small type of shark) arrive in coastal sloughs, eating Hemigrapsus crabs, just as shovelnosed guitar fish (which eat the same crabs) are leaving the slough.
  • In larger estuaries (especially San Francisco Bay), Pacific herring spawn during winter, laying their eggs in eel grass and filamentous red algae such as Gracilariopsis. These spawning herring provide an important source of winter food for sea lions.
  • Some flatfish lay eggs in estuaries during winter.
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