Ecology of SF Bay

Bio 25




If you want to know more about the ecology of San Francisco Bay...

Note: these sources might have useful information for your presentation, but please do not restrict yourself to these pages.

Bay Pollution
Webpage with resources I put together for our teaching sustainability faculty/staff group.

Save the Bay
has information on

  • Bay history
  • Bay Nature (Plants, Animals, Habitats, Threatened, Endangered and Invasive Species))
  • Bay Basics
  • Bay Issues and Solutions
  • Bay Activities

San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

  • includes China Camp, Rush Ranch, and the Romberg Tiburon Center. The site has information on climate change and other research on other impacts on the Bay.

The Bay Institute
has a lot of information on the Bay, amongst others

The California Coastal Conservancy
has information on

San Francsico Estuary Partnership
a wealth of downloadable documents, amongst others:

San Francisco Bay Joint Venture

The Marine Science Institute
has information on

The San Francisco Estuary Institute
has information on

has, amongst others, information on

Bay Nature
has many superb articles on ecology of the San Francisco Bay, amongst others. Use the search feature to find the articles.

  • Bird's Eye View of San Francisco Bay (2004)
  • The Art of Restoration (2001)
  • Four Threats to a Healthy Bay (2003)
  • The Bay's Native Oysters: Still Hanging On (2007)
  • China Camp: From the Bottom Up: The Tiny Bay Shrimp Makes History (2002)
  • Between River and Bay: The Delta's Big Break (2003)
  • Rivers in the Bay (2001)
  • Towards a Healthy Bay: A 21st Century Challenge (2003)
  • Heron's Head Park: Growing a Greenway in Hunters Point (2006)
  • Palo Alto Baylands: The Call of the Rails (2002)
  • Out in the Tules: The Freshwater Marsh of Coyote Hills (2004)
  • South Bay Challenge: Reclaiming the Salt Ponds for People and Nature (2004)
  • The Bay Trail comes of age (2002)
  • Pacific Flyway (2002)


And here some more starting points:

Wetland links

Salt pond restoration resources and fact sheets

Bayland nature notes on a variety of wetland plants and animals

Invasive and exotic species

Primary productivity in the Bay

Audubon article on wetland restoration and oil spill


Pollution is a issue that does not start or stop at the boundary of the Bay. Pollution highlights our interconnectedness with the rest of the world. Consider, for example, worries that contaminated debris from the 2011 Japan tsunami washes up on West Coast shores. Consider also that a plastic bag floating in the Bay may eventually find its way to join one of the Great Garbage patches (Oceanography) and that whatever contaminant infiltrates the soil in San Francisco Bay's watershed has the potential to find its way to the Bay.

But connections don't end there: Just take one of the pollutants of major concern for the Bay, Mercury. It's presence in the Bay is intimately linked to the Gold Rush (History), to mercury mines in the South Bay (Environmental Sciences), to the mercury ores in the California Coast Rage and movement of sediment (Geology), to human health and cell biology, Research about mercury reveals its bioaccumulation in the food web (Ecology), its impact on to social justice issues, and reminds of the Tragedy of the Commons (Political Sciences, Economics). And then, of course, let's not forget that above all, mercury is a chemical!

We can link the exploration of pollution in the Bay to instructional SLOs, and apply active learning strategies appropriate to achieve course SLOs.


California Critical Coastal Areas - Partnering to protect our coast from polluted runoff, information on runoff from individual Bay tributaries

The San Francisco Estuary Institute
has information on

  • Pulse of the Estuary - yearly pollution reports, every year, besides updates on all aspects a very interesting emphasis on one pollutant. It is well worth looking at previous reports
    • 2012: Flame Retardants (with separate insert on flame retardants)
      Related: Chicago Tribune investigation and Time article based on research paper by Dr. Stapleton, Duke University
    • 2011: Pollutant Effects on Aquatic Life
    • 2010: Linking the Watershed and the Bay
    • 2009: Bay sediments
    • 2008: Mercury
    • 2007: Monitoring and Managing Water Qualit
  • Fact sheets, e.g., on Triclosan a common antibacterial agent in soaps
  • Contaminants in fish from the California coast

and runs many projects, amongst others the Contaminants Program, which coodrindates research and provides access to a wealth of scientific studies on contaminants in the San Francisco Estuary

San Francisco Estuary Partnership
publishes Estuary News, a great newsletter with information about ongoing projects, many related to pollution (prevention) and also the yearly State of the Bay report. Under the link Challenges, you will find information on projects dealing with pollution prevention.

CEDED California Environmental Data Exchange Network
"The California Environmental Data Exchange Network (CEDEN)
is a central location to find and share information about California’s water bodies, including streams, lakes, rivers, and the coastal ocean. Many groups in California monitor water quality, aquatic habitat, and wildlife health to ensure good stewardship of our ecological resources. CEDEN aggregates this data and makes it accessible to environmental managers and the public."

California Water Science Center
allows you to see real time streamflow conditions and water quality data.

Save the Bay
has information about trash, car pollutants, mercury, phamaceuticals, and pet waste.


All about copper here.

KQED Quest on mercury.

USGS site on water quality.





Last updated October 20, 2013 by Crima Pogge, all rights reserved.