Research - Mission Bay


    Mission Bay is a prominent feature of the San Diego coastline. This shallow, mesotidal estuary covers approximately 1862 ha (4600 acres) and has been modified extensively from its original appearance.  Historically, Mission Bay was an estuary of the San Diego River and was dominated by tidal salt marsh and mud flats.  Beginning in the late 19th century, the bay was developed as a recreational and commercial resource for the City of San Diego, and it now constitutes the largest aquatic park on the west coast of the United States.  The San Diego River was separated from the Mission Bay inlet by a permanent dike in the late 1940s, and the bay subsequently was dredged and reshaped to alter the circulation and create islands.



    My research in Mission Bay began in June 2001 when my research lab initiated a project to study pelagic and benthic communities within the bay.  Our main scientific goal has been to examine the relationship between environmental factors affecting Mission Bay and the status of animal communities within the bay.  We have been working at six sites within the bay.  Three of these sites are located near the three major sources of fresh water input to Mission Bay, near the inlets of Tecolote Creek, Cudahy Creek, and Rose Creek.  Two sites are representative of large regions of the bay: Fiesta Bay and Sail Bay.  The sixth site is located near the mouth of the bay near Ventura Point, in a location that is well-flushed by tidal flow.  We have been collecting hydrographic data, water samples, and plankton samples from these six sites on a biweekly basis since June 2001.

    In addition, we sampled benthic communities at the same six sites on a monthly basis from November 2001 through November 2002.  This sampling effort and a portion of our work on the plankton community in Mission Bay was funded by the City of San Diego.  Our final report to the city is available through the links below.

Final Report - City of San Diego - February 2004

Section 00 - Cover and Contents

Section 01 - Scope

Section 02 - Background

Section 03 - Methods

Section 04 - Results: Water Quality

Section 05 - Results: Plankton

Section 06 - Results: Sediments

Section 07 - Results: Benthos

Section 08 - Results: Toxicity

Section 09 - Conclusions

Section 10 - References

    Results of this research program have been presented at scientific meetings.  Copies of poster presentations are available through the links below.

Ecological Health Assessment of Mission Bay, San Diego, CA - Temporal and Spatial Variability Effects on Data Interpretation - Stransky et al. 2003 - SETAC Meeting




This page and all images copyright 2004-2005 by Ron Kaufmann
All rights reserved
Last modified 7 Aug 2006 by Ron Kaufmann