Self Guided Walks at Batiquitos Lagoon
Trail guides for self guided walks are available from the Nature Center. Read the trail guide below or download a copy here.
Lagoon Trail Guide
- Mudflat Ecology
- Mojave Yucca
- Lagoon Fishes
- Coastal Saltmarsh
- Sweet Fennel
As the tide goes out, the lagoon’s mudflats are exposed. These mudflats may look barren, but below the surface, this is habitat for a wide assortment of invertebrates (animals without backbones). These animals can tolerate the physiological stress caused by changes in water level, temperature and salinity within the lagoon system. The most abundant species are worms and clams. Also here are small snails and shrimp. All can be food for birds and other animals and are part of an intricate food web.
The Mojave Yucca up the steep hill is the kind of plant that was highly regarded by early Native Americans for its many uses: they could use the fruit and flowers for food, the strong fibers for ropes and weaving, and the roots for soap. Its only pollinator is a small white moth.
Here we see an example of cross-bedding in the soft sandstone, produced during deposition in shifting currents. Above this, the unconsolidated soil and silt contain cobbles of mixed sizes. The fine material was brought and deposited by slowly moving water. Floods increased the velocity periodically, and the water was able to carry larger rock particles, which were deposited when the velocity dropped.
The lagoon serves as a breeding and nursery area for many coastal fishes. Tidal creeks and channels provide surge-free refuges for small fishes and for the eggs and larvae of larger fishes. The places with sandy bottoms provide habitat for Rays, Sharks and Flatfishes. Submerged vegetation such as Eelgrass shelters the Staghorn Sculpin and the Pipefish and Goby families. Shallow water species include the Halibut, Turbot, Sardines and Croakers. Open water species include Mullett, Bass, Anchovies, Sardines and Top Smelt. The Mullett clean out their gills by jumping.
This bush is a drought resistant plant. Feel the leaves: thick and waxy to resist dehydration during the hot, dry summer months. The ripe red berries have a sticky, tart coating that, mixed with water, makes a refreshing lemonade-like drink.
Between the trail and the water’s edge is an example of a coastal saltmarsh community. The dominant salt-tolerant plant found at the lagoon is Pickleweed. Early settlers ate the foliage and likened it to pickles. The plant has a high alkaline salt content so it has been used for making soap and glass. Pickleweed is easily identified by its fleshy leaves, which look like a string of pickles. The dense low growth provides nesting habitat for the endangered Belding’s Savannah Sparrow.
This plant is similar to the one licorice comes from: smell the feathery leaves. If they smell of licorice, you can taste the seeds in the fall. BE CAREFUL! The similar-looking Poison Hemlock is toxic!