Santa Cruz Natural Reserve System
The four reserves in the UC Santa Cruz Natural Reserve System ring the edges of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary from Santa Cruz to Big Sur. Including fog-draped redwood forests, seal rookeries, and a rare coastal lagoon, these reserves provide a natural laboratory for marine and terrestrial research as well as student inquiry.
Año Nuevo Island Reserve
Teeming with nesting seabirds and breeding seals, this islet off the San Mateo coast is a magnet for scientists studying marine mammal behavior and physiology. Studies of elephant seals and other pinnipeds based here have pioneered the study of where marine animals travel and how to measure their remarkable physiological abilities in the wild.
Fort Ord Natural Reserve
This outpost of marine chaparral, coast live oak, coastal scrub, and grasslands relies on ocean fog for much of its moisture. Growing atop sandy soils and adjacent to dunes, the reserve is a refuge for rare plant species such as well as the legless lizard and other animal species of special concern.
Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve
Extending from the ridgeline of the Santa Lucia Mountains to the waves of the Big Sur coast, the reserve harbors California condors, old growth redwoods, and steelhead. One of the few boat-accessible beaches along this rocky shore give scientific divers and other marine scientists access to a state marine reserve.
Younger Lagoon Reserve
A rare central coast wetland, the reserve includes marsh, pickleweed flats, and a pocket beach with dune vegetation. Upland terraces are being restored to coastal prairie by student interns.