Photo Credits: Left: Mason Cummings, NPS; Right Top and Bottom: Jessica Weinberg, NPS.

Water is key to life in the relatively arid Mediterranean environments of Bay Area national parks. Freshwater areas like rivers, streams, and ponds offer a place for numerous creatures to live, find shelter, feed, or reproduce. Brackish and saltwater marshes are havens for migrating birds and juvenile aquatic species, and capture sediment and pollutants from upstream. Along the coast, tidepools and rocky intertidal areas are populated with an array of hardy marine algae and invertebrates (animals without backbones). The boundaries of Golden Gate and Point Reyes also extend a quarter mile offshore. These protected marine areas—in combination with the adjacent Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuaries—are some of the richest areas of marine life found anywhere in the world. Continue to learn about these exceptional habitats though the links below.