By far, the most populated regions in the state lie on the west coast. These coastal areas have been heavily populated for hundreds of years, beginning with Native American tribes.
It is clear from excavated sites, digs and paintings that these people made heavy use of the wildlife around them. Although it is clear that these groups did have an impact on the environment, and may have played some role in the loss of some species, it was relatively minimal compared to what would come next.
With the European settlers, the Spanish in particular, came radical change and manipulation of the habitat. The introduction of livestock, and the importation of grasses for them to graze on, had a major impact on the region. Whereas the Native Americans were thought to have hunted mostly for sustenance, the Europeans brought with them the sport of hunting. This meant large numbers of animals were hunted to the brink of extinction, and in some cases, such as the California grizzly bear (the last one killed in 1922) completely eradicated from the state.
Gold Rush Times
It was most likely, however, that it was during the gold rush of the 1850’s when the environment fell apart here. Mining compounds reworked the landscape, and did irreparable damage to the surrounding habitat. The coastal regions took the brunt of the impact, as shipping ports and communities were built to sustain easy and quick trade to other states and countries. Fur trappers, hunters and miners were all able to make quite a good living as long as a port was nearby. Hunters and trappers began taking as many furbearers as they could, as no regulations were in place. By the early 1900’s, the damage to coastal animal populations had been done. The addition of state and federal laws in the 1900’s helped create the awareness for the need for conservation, and the importance of protecting California’s biodiversity.
Who are the Coast Dwellers?
Pacific White-Sided Dolphin
These creatures inhabits the entire Pacific range. It is considered a deepwater species but in recent years they have been seen closer to shore and in inland waters
California Sea Lion
Typical colouring ranges from tan to chocolate brown and may appear black when wet. The head has a pointed muzzle and the profile resembles that of a dog. The hair is short; the flippers are long and leathery with nails. An adult male is larger weighing about 800 pounds with a sagittal crest or bump on the top of the head; the female who is considerably smaller, averages 250 pounds.
See other types of habitats by following the links on the right side of the page.