Santa Monica Bay and its environs provide habitat to such a diversity of species -at least 5000 at last count- that some are not yet catalogued, classified or named.
Why is diversity important? One major reason is that it's a building block supporting human life. Without the lower part of the "food chain," the more advanced organisms, e.g., humans, would quickly die out.
The many ecosystems in the Santa Monica Bay watershed include land habitats from semi-wilderness areas in the Santa Monica Mountains that still shelter coyote and wild rabbits, to wetlands that support resident and migrant birds, as well as dozens of varieties of worms and snails and other small, obscure animals who, through their lives, process and cleanse the water.
The Marine Ecosystem (ocean waters of the Bay) is home to diverse and abundant life - fish, mammals, birds, plants, and other organisms. The Bay and its coastal wetlands are important nesting and foraging areas for wildlife. Migratory birds and California gray whales pass through the Bay on their annual migrations.
Our Bay Area Wetlands, though now only occupying five percent of the acreage they used to cover, are important wildlife areas, providing crucial habitat for several threatened and endangered species.
Canyon Riparian Zones in the semi-rural parts of the watershed offer small "pockets" of rare habitat.
Intertidal Zones, those areas of shallow shore which are both above and below water during the tidal cycle, provide unique habitat for a multitude of fish, shellfish, and other small organisms critical to the marine foodchain.
Despite the relative abundance of both aquatic and terrestrial life in and around the Bay, habitats in the Bay's watershed have been significantly degraded, altered or lost since the time that California was settled by Spanish missionaries. The marine ecosystem has been degraded by pollution, with declines of certain species and accumulation of persistent toxins in fish, birds and marine mammals. The goals for habitat restoration, protection and management respond to the need for a healthy and diverse ecosystem, while also recognizing the need for human use of these resources.
In order to ensure long-term protection of Bay resources, comprehensive habitat management strategies are needed. Reducing pollutant inputs into the ecosystem, restoring and increasing the quantity and quality of habitats, reversing declines in native species, increasing enforcement of natural resource regulations and promoting public stewardship of the Bay's environment are all vital to successful habitat protection and restoration.