This is a guide to common marine invertebrates, seaweeds and fishes likely to be encountered on rocky shores and kelp forests of Monterey Bay and central California. The site was created as a teaching tool for undergraduate students at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, CA. Notes on abundance and microhabitat pertain to southern Monterey Bay and may not apply directly to other locations. Cryptic and/or small-bodied species are under-represented here, since they are seldom encountered in the field without special efforts.
If you would like to learn more about the biology of these organisms, see Ecology and Conservation of Kelp Forest Communities: BIOHOPK 185H/285H, an intensive summer course at Hopkins Marine Station, open to both Stanford and non-Stanford students.
This site was created by James Watanabe, who has taught and conducted ecological research on kelp forests and rocky shores of Monterey Bay for more than 35 years. Chris Patton provided invaluable technical support & photographic assistance.
Notice to Users
The images and text on these pages are copyrighted. They are meant for educational use only. Publication or other commercial use of this material is prohibited without written permission from the author. Educational use of any image is contingent on it not being altered in any way. Please give appropriate credit for any education-related use.
Send comments to the contact address below with the subject line "SeaNet web pages." While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information presented here, the author does not guarantee that these pages are error-free nor accept responsibility for any consequences resulting from their use.
Reference sources for invertebrates, fishes, & algae include
Carlton (2007) and Morris et al. (1980); for seaweeds Gabrielson et al. (2004) and Abbott & Hollenberg (1976); for fishes Eschmeyer et al. (1983).
Abbott, I.A. and G.J. Hollenberg. 1976. Marine algae of California. Stanford Univ. Press, Stanford, CA.
Carlton, J.T., ed. 2007. The Light & Smith Manual: Intertidal invertebrates from central California to Oregon, 4th ed. Univ. Calif. Press, Berkeley CA.
Eschmeyer, W.N., E.S. Herald, and H. Hammann. 1983. Field guide to Pacific Coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston MA.
Gabrielson, P.W., T.R. Widdowson, and S.C. Lindstrom. 2004. Keys to the seaweeds and seagrasses of Oregon and California north of Pt. Conception. Phycological contribution No. 6, Dept of Botany, Univ. British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
Morris, R.H., D.P. Abbott, and E.C. Haderlie. 1980. Intertidal invertebrates of California. Stanford Univ. Press, Stanford, CA.
Taxonomic information from World Registry of Marine Species (WoRMS): http://www.marinespecies.org/