The nation's first urban National Wildlife Refuge is a jewel on the San Francisco Bay. Its 30,000 acres of open bay, salt pond, salt... more » marsh, mudflat, upland, and vernal pool habitats are constantly changing. It's a great place to hike or watch birds. It's also a great place to see up close how a salt pond is turned back into wetlands.
Look around you. What do you see? hear? smell? Perhaps you'd be surprised to learn that there are hidden realms in this landscape, evidence of past human activity, even a mystery or two. A salt pond looks quite different from above. There are myriad species of organisms living in the rust-red, purple, or emerald green water. Here you'll discover clues to some of the stories this area has to tell about its ecology and its past.
See if you can spot any of the birds, insects, or other animals that live in the dense stands of bulrushes. Later, during your hike, you can compare this restored marsh habitat to some salt pond habitats. There's a lot that scientists don't know, too. Maybe you can help find some of the answers!
Visit the marsh during the spring or fall migratory seasons and you might see brandt, pintails, mallards, or canvasbacks. Other water birds that feed and live here include herons, seagulls, avocets, and stilts.
Special Thanks to The Exploratorium for connecting QUEST with Dr. Wayne Lanier and Cris Benton, of the Hidden Ecologies blog. Hidden Ecologies is part of the Exploratorium's Invisible Dynamics project.