National marine sanctuary offices and visitor centers closed to the public; waters remain open

NOAA's national marine sanctuary offices and visitor centers are closed to the public while the waters remain open for responsible use in accordance with CDC guidance and local regulations. More information on the response from NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries can be found on

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Shorebirds and Waders

A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) standing on top of kelp canopy while spotting his prey in Whaler's Cove at Point Lobos State Park and Marine ReserveShorebirds or "waders" are birds that rely on beaches or wetlands for feeding, resting and nesting. Ninety species occur on the shores, marshes and estuaries of the sanctuary, of which 30 are dominant. Species seen frequenting Elkhorn Slough and the Salinas River mouth are sandpipers, Dunlins, Sanderlings, dowitchers, Black-Bellied Plover, Willets, American Avocets, Marbled Godwits and Long-Billed Curlews. Large wetland waders include egrets and herons. Sandy beaches host Sanderlings, Willets and Marbled Godwits, while Black Oystercatchers and Black Turnstones forage the rocky shores for food.

Shorebirds reach their greatest densities from October through March reflecting the movement of individuals to and from northern breeding grounds as well as large numbers of over-wintering birds. However, many shore and marsh species occur year-round, including several that breed locally.

The sanctuary offers excellent opportunities to see shorebirds. Elkhorn Slough is one of our nation's premier bird watching sites. Hiking and kayaking here is great way to see an abundance of birds and wildlife. Exploring the sanctuary's sandy and rocky beaches affords wonderful viewing of a variety of shorebirds too.

The Wandering Tattler is gray above and white underneath, almost disappearing in the algae along the rocky shore, where is spends much of its time foraging. A ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres), a shorebird, hitch-hiked a ride on the OSCAR DYSON to rest and scavenge for food on the deck. It was a bit far from shore, but not unusual to see in the Bering Sea.

Useful Links

SIMoN: Sanctuary monitoring network shorebird information

Sanctuary Site Characterization: shorebird information