Eelgrass

An important food source for waterbirds.

Eelgrass Photo: Eric Heupel

No matter where you live, chances are you and your family are benefiting from eelgrass. This beautiful plant provides dozens of ecosystem services and provides essential habitat for coastal birds. 

Eelgrass on the U.S. West Coast is a member of the family of sea grasses called Zosteraceae and belongs to the higher taxonomic group of flowering plants called angisosperms. The blades of eelgrass are similar to those found in common grass species and depending on the zone, these could grow up to 4 feet in length. 

As a crucial nursery habitat for crabs, salmon, and other wildlife, eelgrass boosts the economies of our coastal communities through fisheries and tourism. Healthy eelgrass beds also clean and filter water, absorb climate-warming carbon, and act as natural buffers to protect the coastline during storms.

Within San Francisco Estuary, Richardson Bay stands out as a particularly unique location for eelgrass restoration. It harbors the second-largest extant eelgrass bed in the estuary, and plants with the most genetic diversity of six beds sampled. Further, a model of environmental conditions in the estuary has identified Richardson Bay as the area with the greatest area suitable for restoration (Merkel and Associates 2004). Hence, Richardson Bay is highly valued both for its existing eelgrass resources and its potential for restoration.

Read All About Eelgrass in this downloadable fact sheet in English and Spanish.

Coastal Resiliency
Coastal Resiliency

Coastal Resiliency

Audubon is advancing nature-based strategies to help coastline communities weather the impacts of climate change.

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Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary
About Us

Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary

The Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary is a remarkable slice of nature on the shores of the San Francisco Bay.

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Eelgrass, Herring, and Waterbirds in San Francisco Bay: Threats and Opportunities
San Francisco Bay

Eelgrass, Herring, and Waterbirds in San Francisco Bay: Threats and Opportunities

A new white paper looks at this invaluable habitat ecosystem in San Francisco Bay

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 New Study Shows Seagrasses Buffer Ocean Acidification
Coastal Resiliency

New Study Shows Seagrasses Buffer Ocean Acidification

Eelgrass provides dozens of benefits to our coast and ocean. A groundbreaking new study further underlines its importance to marine birds and wildlife in a time of climate change.

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Restoration of eelgrass continues in San Francisco Bay
Audublog

Restoration of eelgrass continues in San Francisco Bay

Restoring the vital native plant requires hard work and cold water.

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Anchor Scour Damages Eelgrass Beds
Audublog

Anchor Scour Damages Eelgrass Beds

Aerial images show ‘crop circles’ in eelgrass habitat

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It's on! Herring Run in SF Bay Attracts Thousands of Birds
Coastal Resiliency

It's on! Herring Run in SF Bay Attracts Thousands of Birds

San Francisco Bay is an ecologically rich estuary, significant for its large eelgrass beds, spawning areas for Pacific herring, and tens of thousands of wintering waterbirds and other wildlife. Each winter, waterbirds migrate to the waters in and around the Richardson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary to rest in the calm waters and feast on herring.

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San Francisco Bay
San Francisco Bay

San Francisco Bay

Audubon California is committed to protecting the birds and habitat of the San Francisco Bay.

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News & Updates

Huntington Beach Oil Spill Fouls Beaches Home to Federally Threatened Snowy Plovers
Seas & Shores

Huntington Beach Oil Spill Fouls Beaches Home to Federally Threatened Snowy Plovers

— Oiled Western Snowy Plover on shoreline in Huntington Beach
Audubon California: Orange County Oil Spill of Extreme Concern to Migrating Seabirds
Seas & Shores

Audubon California: Orange County Oil Spill of Extreme Concern to Migrating Seabirds

— “It is time to stop putting our coastal birds and communities at risk from the oil industry.”
Shortbelly Rockfish: An unlikely forage fish rockstar
Coastal Resiliency

Shortbelly Rockfish: An unlikely forage fish rockstar

Speak up for this critical seafood for seabirds, including Marbled Murrelets, Pigeon Guillemot, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murre, Brandt’s Cormorant, and California Least Tern

 New Study Shows Seagrasses Buffer Ocean Acidification
Coastal Resiliency

New Study Shows Seagrasses Buffer Ocean Acidification

Eelgrass provides dozens of benefits to our coast and ocean. A groundbreaking new study further underlines its importance to marine birds and wildlife in a time of climate change.

It's on! Herring Run in SF Bay Attracts Thousands of Birds
Coastal Resiliency

It's on! Herring Run in SF Bay Attracts Thousands of Birds

San Francisco Bay is an ecologically rich estuary, significant for its large eelgrass beds, spawning areas for Pacific herring, and tens of thousands of wintering waterbirds and other wildlife. Each winter, waterbirds migrate to the waters in and around the Richardson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary to rest in the calm waters and feast on herring.

Audubon California: Richmond Spill More Than Enough to Damage Sensitive Ecosystem
Coastal Resiliency

Richmond Spill More Than Enough to Damage Sensitive Ecosystem

— SF Bay is a keystone of an ecosystem that supports everything from seabirds to herring.
New Legislation Aims to Protect Tiny Fish Vital to Seabirds
Seas & Shores

New Legislation Aims to Protect Tiny Fish Vital to Seabirds

— Audubon supports the Forage Fish Conservation Act.
Restoring Sonoma Creek for Climate Resilience
Coastal Resiliency

Restoring Sonoma Creek for Climate Resilience

First-of-its-kind project restores 400 acres of tidal marsh habitat along Sonoma Creek in northern San Francisco Bay, helping withstand sea level rise and storm surges from climate change.

House Introduces Sweeping Legislation to Confront Climate Change on Our Coasts
Seas & Shores

House Introduces Sweeping Legislation to Confront Climate Change on Our Coasts

— The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act calls for urgent action on the issues facing coastal communities in California and elsewhere.

How you can help, right now