Throughout August CIR staff, UCSB students, and community volunteers got down in the marshes to survey for salt marsh bird's-beak (Chloropyron maritimum subsp. maritimum). The Carpintria salt marsh is one of the last of its kind in Southern California. The flat oceanfront ecosystems have been an alluring target for developers. Salt marshes provide habitat for many uniqe species and are important areas for transient birds as well. Salt marsh bird's-beak is extant in just seven coastal marshes between Morro Bay and northern Baja California.
The survey comes ahead of our project to remove invasive European sea lavender from the marsh. And understanding of where the two species' ranges overlap is required for us to properly plan to eradicate European sea lavender.
Now I'd rather not get too deep into the nitty-gritty, for that you can read our full report which will be made public soon. Here I'd rather focus on commentary.
Surveying a salt marsh is no easy task - not at all like walking through a slightly soggy meadow as I had originally imagined. Being at the edge of the coast, the marsh is linked directly to the mercy of the tides and tides pay no attention to business hours. High tide occured around noon throughout the month, so areas in the marsh that were dry in the morning were under six feet of water later in the day. Even when water wasn't present, the mud could act like quicksand and threaten to swallow our rubber boots whole. So as we entered the marshes each morning, we had to be certain of our exit route otherwise we would be swimming our way out. Towards the ending days of the surveys we wisened up and brought SUPs and kayaks to ford the rivers that came at high tide.
Despite all of our efforts, we still ended up wet and muddy most days.
After surveying the entire 230-acre marsh we found about 0.51 acres where salt marsh bird's-beak was present.