In the Elkhorn Slough watershed, freshwater habitats occur as riparian corridors, wet meadows, freshwater marshes, and ponds.
McClusky Slough is a freshwater wetland system that drains into Elkhorn Slough at Moss Landing Harbor. There are also freshwater wetland areas in the upper reaches of Elkhorn Slough and Moro Cojo Slough.
Freshwater habitats provide important habitat for diverse communities of plants and animals, including sensitive species such as the Santa Cruz Long-toed Salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum), California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense), California Red-legged Frog (Rana draytonii), and the Southern Pacific Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata pallida).
Unfortunately, freshwater habitats have experienced significant losses over the last 150 years. A network of shallow lakes and freshwater marshes that once extended from south of the city of Salinas to north of the city of Watsonville was drained in the late 1800s and early 1900s for agriculture (Gordon 1996). A series of small upland ponds just north and south of lower Moro Cojo Slough was converted to agricultural and industrial land (Johnson and Rodgers 1854).
Freshwater springs and seeps that were once common along the edges of Elkhorn Slough have been lost since the 1940s, presumably due to lowered groundwater levels resulting from agricultural and domestic pumping (Van Dyke and Wasson 2005).
We are currently featuring the following slough life from this habitat:
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