A Trip to Estero Americano, Part Two, Fish!

Before launching at the Estero Americano a large fish swam past the launch pad. My camera was still in the car, so I was not able to get a photograph of it, but my best guess is that it was more than two feet long. It looked like a steelhead.

How did such a large fish get into the Estero? The mouth is closed. Was this fish there to spawn?

The whole way out to the ocean I saw schools of very small—smaller than a kid’s little finger—fish roil the water. They often took short silvery leaps into the air. It’s hard to get a photo of this behavior. Here’s the best:

Jumping Fingerlings

They are smaller than you might guess from this photo. Maybe 1 to 2 inches long.

Are these offspring of the likes of the larger fish I saw swimming at the launch?

I also saw medium-sized fish, bigger than the schooling fry fish. These ranged from about four to ten inches long. Near a group of White Pelicans I found a half dozen dead ones floating on the sides. According to fellow naturalists on iNaturalist, this is an Anchovy.

Dead Smolt 7:11:16

Out at the beach, there was plenty of evidence that at high tide waves wash over the sandbar and spill into the Estero. The northern part of the beach was covered in seaweed carried out of the ocean and deposited on the sand. Seaweed covered the bottom of the lagoon near the closed mouth.

Washed Beach EA 7:11:16

Looking east into Estero Americano from the north end of the EA beach on Bodega Bay

I’ve seen videos of anadromous fish swimming in water only two inches deep washing across roads in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve seen harbor seals swim/crawl in waves barely washing over sandbars on the Northern California coast.

So I guess that the Anchovies and larger fish (steelhead, probably) swam through water washing over the bar to get into the Estero Americano. But how would they know to swim on the waves washing across this particular beach?

Nearby was some hardware installed on the beach, a well for a hatchery about which I know very little.

Hatchery Well 7:11:16

Anyone know about a hatchery here?

This is something to learn more about!

On the paddle back I enjoyed the company of fellow Estuarians, birds that eat fish, that is: Great Blue Herons, American White Pelicans, Cormorants, Osprey, Great Egrets, and Snowy Egrets. I’ll save pictures of them for a future post.

2 thoughts on “A Trip to Estero Americano, Part Two, Fish!

  1. When I was down there a few years back, there were fish rearing tanks up on the hill on the north side of the mouth, so I’d bet they are pumping water up to them.

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