Explore The Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary

Beaches and Dunes
The Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary has some 83 accessible beaches and 24 dune systems. Experts refer to the beaches and dunes created many thousands of years ago as "relic landscapes." These relic landscapes do not receive new sand material for expansion, but even today the beaches and dunes are dynamic, as sand moves up and down the coast. Wave action piles sand up on the beaches and the constant northwesterly winds move the sand from the north to the south.

Sand Dune Plants
The sand dune environment is a harsh setting for plants and animals. There are a few specialized plants that can survive the difficult conditions such as the: Dune grass, Hottentot Fig, California Poppy, Beach Morning Glory, Sea Rocket, Mock heather and the Blue Lupine.

Sand Dune Animals
Animals living on the sand dunes are hard to see in the midday but they leave tracks that can easily be seen as you walk through the dunes. Many of the animals live in burrows. Animals such as deer mice, and the black legless lizard forage at night. Burrowing owls, cottontail rabbits and jack rabbits share the dunes with several types of snakes including the western diamond rattlesnake. Of the many insects that inhabit the dunes the is the Smith's blue butterfly an endangered species.

Sand Dune Recovery
Restoration of the sand dunes centers around clearing the dunes of exotic weeds and ice plants and reintroducing native plant species. Regional Park employees and volunteers hand pick native dune plant seeds and use these seeds to restore the dunes. Straw is used to stabilize the dunes until the young native plants take hold. Another type of restoration utilizes bulldozers for shaping the dunes and spraying a mulch type seed mixture to apply the native plant seeds onto the dunes. Restoration areas are marked and are fragile areas.


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