Beautiful Beach, Treasured  Wildlife Habitat


Pajaro Dunes lies in an ecologically sensitive niche, and the Pajaro community is committed to responsible environmental stewardship. Homeowners at Pajaro Dunes founded the nonprofit group, Friends of Pajaro Dunes with the goal of protecting habitats and wildlife in and around the beach community.

Wetlands: The Last Mile

Pajaro Dunes sits along the Watsonville Slough as it joins the Pajaro River and enters Monterey Bay. This final portion of the slough provides critical habitat for wildlife. Pajaro Dunes has supported the effort spearheaded by Watsonville Wetlands Watch to restore this important natural ecosystem.

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  • The Pajaro Dunes Association has provided financial support to Friends of Pajaro Dunes, whose homeowner-volunteers have devoted countless hours to the wetlands restoration project.
  • Pajaro Dunes staff give talks to students as part of the curriculum of the Fitz Wetlands Education Resource Center, a classroom and field study program teaching Pajaro Valley students  about the importance of wetlands conservation.

Monterey Bay: Habitat Reclaimed

The waters of Monterey Bay support one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth. Yet it was once an ecologically devastated stretch of ocean. Nineteenth-century fur traders destroyed the sea otter population, leading to an explosion in the sea urchin population. The unchecked urchins devoured the kelp forest habitat that sustained the once-abundant sea-life. Most fish and sea mammals abandoned the area, and sardines swarmed in. Canneries were built to harvest this bounty, but caused tremendous industrial pollution by dumping 100,000 pounds of fish parts daily.

Eventually the sardines were fished out, the canneries closed, and Monterey Bay began to heal. This recovery might not have happened without the dedication of ecologists who fought to create local marine preserves in the region. Finally in 1992, the area was designated a National Marine Sanctuary ensuring permanent protection of this spectacular marine habitat. Today the sanctuary supports:

  • one of the world’s largest kelp forests
  • 34 species of marine mammals
  • 180+ species of birds
  • four turtle species
  • over 500 fish species
  • more than 31 phyla of invertebrates

Learn more about the incredibly diverse ecosystem and the ongoing research and conservation efforts in Monterey Bay at: