1923 to 1936


The source material for this internet book on the Bay and Estuary of Southern California comes from Edward Ricketts' book, Between Pacific Tides, published in 1939, but based on his observations from 1923 to 1936.

On page 7:
"Animals of the sloughs, enclosed bays, sounds, and estuaries, where the rise and fall of the tides is not complicated by surf, enjoy the ultimate in wave protection and commonly differ correspondingly in species from animals inhabiting the open coast and the protected coast."

On page 148:
"In bays and estuaries the animals must put up with variable and often high temperatures, variable and often low salinities (because of the influx of fresh water), and relatively low oxygen content in the water, gaining no apparent advantage except escape from wave shock."

On page 154:
The estuary fauna in the south derives largely from open-coast constituents. In Newport Bay great twisted masses of tubed snails Aletes (47) may almost cover the rocks, and the rock oyster Chama (126) grows so thickly that it appears to form reefs.

On page 175:
... Along the California coast south of Los Angeles, octopi have moved into estuaries where there are suitable pools containing rocks arched over the mud. Living in such mud-rock caverns in quiet waters they attain, when unmolested (which they rarely can be in this heavily populated country), sizes that ar large for their usually small species. Wherever numerous enough, they might be considered dominant animals, for their size, strength, and cunning put thm pretty well in control of their surroundings.

On page 176:
... we have found a flat encrusting sponge described originally from the central California estuary as Mycale macginitiei, ....

"AT TEN O'CLOCK we moved toward the northern side of the entrance of Agiabampo estuary. The sand-bars were already beginning to show with the lowering tide. Tiny used the leadline on the bow while Sparky was again on the crow's nest where he could watch for the shallow water. Tony would not approach closer than a mile from the entrancee, leaving as always a margin of safety."

"As soon as the tide began its strong ebb we got into the skiff and started back to the Western Flyer. Collecting in narrow-mouthed estuaries, we are always wrong with the currents, for we come in against an ebbing tide and we go out against the flow. It was heavy work to defeat this current."

Analysis by
Robert 'Roy' Jan van de Hoek
Field Biologist & Geographer
Wetlands Action Network

Ed Ricketts utilizes the term "estuary" at least five times in the 1939 book, Between Pacific Tides. In addition, the term, estuary, is mentioned several times in the 1941 book, Sea of Cortez, of which two passages are quoted above. In the United States, scientists did not generally use the term "estuary" with any frequency until nearly the end of the 1950s. That fact makes it unique that Ed Ricketts used the term "estuary" as much as he did. Similarly, it is unusual that another marine biologist, George MacGinitie utlized the term "estuary in his 1930s monograph on the Elkhorn Slough Estuary. MacGinitie used the term "estuary" in the title, but nowhere within the text of the monograph is the term "estuary" used, not even once. This is quite different from Edward Ricketts who utilized the term within the text of his book several times. In Ed Ricketts second book, Sea of Cortez, published in 1941, only two years after Between Pacific Tides, the term "estuary" is used frequently by both Ed Ricketts and John Steinbeck. Why did it take so long for other California biologists to begin to refer the term "estuary" in California? Did the scientists of the 1950s, such as Joel Hedgpeth, begin the trend based on reading the writings of Ed Ricketts and George MacGinitie? It appears that Edward Ricketts may have influenced Joel Hedgpeth to utilize the term "estuary" in his major mongraph on Biogeography and Ecology of the oceans. Interestingly, the 1950s is also when the term "wetlands" begins to be used in scientific publications. In fact, the term "wetland" was only coined in the 1940s, just prior to Edward Ricketts' death. Yet, Ed Ricketts was again on the vanguard with terminology because he utilized the term "wet land" in reference to eelgrass habitat. Interestingly, he separated the term "wetland" as two words. He coined the phrase "wet land" sometime between 1923 and 1936, however, the phrase appeared in print in 1939, in Between Pacific Tides. In so many ways, we can see that Ed Ricketts was either on the cutting edge or even ahead of his time of thinking and using terms. Lastly, he even recognized the term niche before it was used as an important concept in ecology prior to the use by academic ecologists. He found that a scientist in South America had discovered concept of the niche.