On January 27, 2011, a bold vision for the hidden part of the Bay was released. Working together, the California State Coastal Conservancy and Ocean Protection Council, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, BCDC, and the Estuary Partnership have uncovered significant findings based on pioneering new exploration and mapping of heretofore “hidden” aspects of the Estuary. It is the first time that comprehensive information about submerged areas in the Bay has been compiled.
Subtidal habitat (all of the submerged area beneath the bay’s surface) is a critical piece of the San Francisco Bay ecosystem, and no one before has undertaken the research and planning needed to guide long-term protection of these areas. This ambitious interagency report sets forth a course of action with 50-year goals for researching, protecting, and restoring the Bay’s underwater environment. It presents key findings, including the need to restore more than 16,000 acres of native oyster and eelgrass beds, innovative new measures to protect shoreline areas in the face of sea level rise and climate change, and the first set of maps that characterize the hidden Bay.
For the first time, these hidden habitats are characterized. Although the hidden underbelly of the Bay is often thought of as a featureless mud bottom, its unique habitats provide diverse three-dimensional structures, and many shellfish, fish, marine mammals, diving ducks, and other wildlife feed, rest, hide, and reproduce in subtidal areas. Submerged areas make up the dominant habitat in the Bay–more than 250,000 acres–and include mudflats and shoals, rocky islands, beds of bright green eelgrass, undulating 10 foot-tall sand waves, native oyster beds, and seaweed beds, all below the lowest tide line. These areas are important for threatened species such as green sturgeon and Chinook salmon, commercial species like Dungeness crab and Pacific herring, and a host of other fish, shrimp, crabs, migratory waterfowl, and marine mammals.
Restoration goals include restoring 8,000 acres each of oyster and eelgrass beds through a phased, adaptive approach to develop best methods while addressing key research questions and data gaps. Habitat integration goals focus on ideas for better improving design connectivity between high priority tidal wetland sites and offshore subtidal areas, in order to protect and enhance the large investment that local, state, and federal agencies have put into tidal wetland restoration in the Bay.
To download the report Click Here