STEELHEAD - Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus
Although the San Pedro Creek Watershed is home to a disparate variety of flora and fauna, the Creek itself provides habitat for a majestic, elusive and disappearing species - a distinct population of the Central Coast Steelhead. Reaching as much as 40lbs, the Steelhead shares the genetic profile with California’s Rainbow Trout but unlike the trout of the Sierra Streams, the coastal populations of trout live the majority of their lives in Pacific Ocean. High in the watershed, the fish start their life in the Spring, maturing 1-2 years in the Creek, migrating out on high water to the Pacific Ocean. Here they feed in the nutrient-rich waters of the Eastern Pacific, growing in size until triggered to come home, and spawn (reproduce). The Steelehead then finds the signature of its home waters and at a time of a high tide and high winter flows, slips over the sands of Linda Mar Beach, swims into the estuary beneath Highway 1 and re-acclimates to its freshhwater environment. It then migrates up the creek, through backyards and beneath roads to find a like-minded mate, where they lay eggs and fertilize them in gravel of San Pedro Valley Park. This life cycle is known as anadromy, a cycle shared with other anadromous fish such as the Pacific Salmon. But unlike the Pacific Salmon who die after the exhasting journey to spawn, Steelhead somehow recharge and return to the Pacific Ocean to do it again!
It was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act on January 5, 2006. We need to do everything we can to ensure this beautiful species can continue to use San Pedro Creek, thus helping to perpetuate the Central Coast population. According the the National Marine Fisheries Service, “this distinct population segment, or DPS, includes naturally spawned anadromous O. mykiss (steelhead) originating below natural and manmade impassable barriers from the Russian River to and including Aptos Creek, and all drainages of San Francisco and San Pablo Bays eastward to Chipps Island at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.”
Richard Johnson's 2005 Steelhead snorkel survey (download) offers further discussion.
PACIFIC LAMPREY - Lampetra tridentata
Not the most endearing of our creek’s residents, the Pacific Lamprey is another anadromous fish in our watershed.
THREE SPINED STICKLEBACK - Gasterosteus aculeatus
A 1-3” anadromous fish