Los Cerritos Wetlands

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Los Cerritos Wetlands

Los Cerritos WetlandsNicole Balenton & Edrianne Aguas

Los Cerritos Wetlands is located on the border of Los Angeles County & Orange County, spanning the cities of Long Beach, California, and Seal Beach, California, not far from the mouth of the San Gabriel River near the Pacific Ocean. Once a vast marsh covering approx. 2,400 acres, it is now classified as a "degraded wetland." It consists of two functioning marshes, Steam Shovel Slough & Zedler Mars, all with an abundance of wildlife. A number of species protected under other acts also inhabitat the wetlands, in addition to the many common plants and animals typical of a California coastal salt marsh habitat. Most of the remaining open space, once a thriving wetland consisting of tidal slat marshes, lagoons, bays & alkali meadows where the San Gabriel River flows into the Pacific Ocean, is currently privately owned & used for oil operations.

Harbor seals are part of the "true seal" family. True seals lack external ear flaps and have short forelimbs that result in limited locomotion on land. Male harbor seals are slightly larger than females, weighing up to 245 lbs, and measure anywhere from about 5.6-6.3 feet in length. They have short, concave, dog-like snouts, and they tend to haul out on land to rest with their head and flippers elevated, in a banana like fashion. Harbor seals eat a variety of prey consisting mainly of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans. Seals both shallow and deep dive during hunting depending on the avaliability of prey. Harbor seals live in temperate coastal habitats and use rocks, reefs, beaches and drifting glacial ice as haul out and pupping sites. Harbor seals haul out of land for rest, thermal regulation, social interaction and to give birth. Harbor seals are generally. non-migratory and occur on both the US east and west coasts.

The Brown Pelican is a comically elegant bird with an oversized bill, sinuous neck, and big, dark body. Brown pelicans are huge, stocky seabirds. They have thick necks and very long bills with a stretchy throat pouch used for capturing fish. Their wings are very long & broad and are often noticeable bowed when the birds are gliding. They feed by plunging into the water, stunning small fish with the impact of their large bodies and scooping them up in their expandable thraot pouches. Brown pelicans live along southern and western sea coasts & are rarely seen inland. They nest in colonies, often on isolated islands free of land predators.

A smooth hound shark is a moderately-sized, rather slender shark with two high dorsal fins; grey-brown. Their snout is gradually rounded with elongate and prominent nasal flaps which are well separated from each other and the mouth. Color mid-grey to grey-brown dorsally, shading to paler grey or white ventrally; no prominent white spots but sometimes with sporadic darker brown spots on dorsum. The gray smooth hound lives in coastal waters, especially on shallow sandy bottoms & muddy bays. It reaches a maximum length of 4 feet & is very slender.

Saltgrass usually forms a low dense mud ground cover of sprawling, large, patchy colonies that are about 8 to 12 inches tall. It has stiff, narrow, pointed blades hat alternate up the stem, growing away from the base at an angle. The blades can grow up to 6 inches long. It is blue-green in color and often coated with salt crystal. Rhizomes are scaly and yellowish. Small purple or straw-colored flowers sppear in the spring. They are frequently found growing just above pickleweeds, they prefer the middle zone or marsh plain of the saltmarsh. They reproduce asexually and sexually. The plants primarily spread the vegetative propagation year-round by forming new clones from is extensive underground rhizome system. The rhizome extend out and produce new sprouts of the original plant.

Cordgrass is a flowering plant, also known as an angiosperm. It grows up to 140 cm tall with blades 8-12 cm wide. It's flowers appear in clusters along the grass stalk, in groups of 12-25cm. This quality is called its inflorescence. Cordgrass is usually found in coastal salt marches, or areas of land that are periodically subject to tidal inundations of seawater. They reproduce asexually and sexually through either self-regeneration, pollinaton, or through the transfer of pollen from one flower to another by wind or water. An individual plant will asexually reproduce year-round sprouting a clone from a rhizome.

Pickleweed is a very common, somewhat shrubby, succulent, perennial plant that is usually a gray-green, growing to about 1 foot. Their flowers are hermaphroditic, having both female and male organs. Branches look like pickles; round, fleshy, erect, prostrate to upright, jointed. There are usually 3 tiny flowers attached into the joint rings alone rounded bracts. It grows in saltwater marshes, alkaline flats, from sea level to 3500 ft. They typically grow in low to middle tide zones of salt marshes or salt flats, often covered with water. It requires clear water and large quantities of sunlight to survive. It can also grow in extremely salt soil, so it is sometimes found in beaches where there is moisture. Male and female sex organs are on separate flowers and the pollen is carried from the male plant of the female by wind. The seeds are formed after fertilization is dispersed by the tides or rain.

Pelicanus occidentalis

Salicornia virginica

Phoca vitulina

Spartina folioso

Mustelus californicus

Distichlis spicata

General Description

Works Cited

"Pickleweed." Aquarium of the Pacific. Aquarium of hte pacific, 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2014."Salicornia Virginica - L." Plants for a Future. Plants for a Future, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2014"Saltgrass." Aquarium of the Pacific. Aquarium of the Pacific, 2014. Wev. 20. Mar. 2014.


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