The official website of the Elkhorn Slough Foundation and Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve
Elkhorn Slough Habitats: Mudflats

Mudflats are found between the elevations of Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) and Mean High Water (MHW) and typically occur between channel habitats and salt marsh habitats. Because they are intertidal, mudflats are usually covered with water during high tide and exposed during low tide.  The mudflats at the Slough make up 1605 acres, the largest aquatic habitat within the watershed.

The lower mudflats support some eelgrass and algal species but are mostly devoid of vegetation. Similar to the subtidal habitats, the soft sediment hosts a large variety of tiny invertebrates that provide food for a number of animals including migrating birds, sharks and otters.

We are currently featuring the following slough life from this habitat:


Check out these beautifully shot videos by Elkhorn Slough naturalist Cortland Jordan of his explorations of the mudflats.

Here's a quick list of the animals shown in the videos above:

A Walk at Low Tide: Fat Innkeeper Worm, Mussels, Bat Ray, Willet, Long-billed Curlew, Western Gull, Southern Sea Otter, Eelgrass, Marbled Godwits, Harbor Seal, Sea Anemone, Gaper Clam, Sand Dollar.

Another walk: California Sea Hare, Fat Innkeeper Worm, Washington Clams, Brittle Star, Plainfin Midshipman, Purple Sea Urchin, Hairy Rock Crab, Sea Star, Chiton, Barnacle, Rock Scallop, Mud snails and egg capsules, Lined Shore Crab, Black Turban Snails, Monkeyface Prickleback, Rockfish, Moonsnail, Sanddab.

For a more complete look at the habitats of Elkhorn Slough, we recommend the book Changes in a California Estuary, available in our bookstore.


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This site is maintained by the Elkhorn Slough Foundation in partnership with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve