Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve
Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Logo

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

Reserve Information



Lead Agency

California Department of Fish and Game
(Visit Site)


1,739 acres


3.5 miles east of Moss Landing, and 23 miles north of Monterey, CA

Additional Information

This site provides habitat for more than 550 species of invertebrates, 100 species of fish, and 135 species of birds, including six species listed as threatened or endangered. Located on the Pacific Flyway, the reserve and the surrounding area are renowned for outstanding birding opportunities.

Biogeographic Region


Tidal Range


About This Reserve

This reserve winds inland nearly seven miles from Monterey Bay to Watsonville. Its broad salt marsh is second in size in the State of California, second only to San Francisco Bay. The reserve represents the central California sub-region and includes threatened habitats such as maritime chaparral, coastal prairie, coastal sage scrub, live oak woodlands, and grasslands. Elkhorn Slough is noted for its biodiversity and recognized as 'wetlands of international importance' by the Ramsar Convention.

The Elkhorn Slough Reserve is one of 30 areas in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. The site is protected for long-term research, water-quality monitoring, education, and coastal stewardship. This reserve is managed on a daily basis by the California Department of Fish and Game. NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management provides funding, national guidance, and technical assistance.

Reserve Location and Boundaries