The San Francisco Bay is the largest estuary in western North America, encompassing the San Francisco Bay and the Delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. The Estuary’s watershed extends from the ridgeline of the Sierra Nevada mountains to the Golden Gate, including almost 60,000 square miles and nearly 40% of California. It is all one system, however, connected by freshwater outflow to the pacific and by the ebb and flow of ocean tides far upstream into the Delta.

The Estuary’s waters and wetlands are a biological resource of tremendous importance – providing critical winter feeding habitat for over a million migratory birds, a productive nursery for many species of juvenile fish and shellfish, and a year-round home for a vast diversity of plants and animals.

Paddling the Water Trail offers a unique and incredible opportunity to view and learn about the wildlife that lives in and around the Bay. Remember to be considerate of the wildlife you do encounter and avoid disturbing them by maintaining buffer distances. They need their energy for feeding, raising young, and survival.

Watch this video of Sea Kayaking on SF Bay with Environmental Traveling Companions and Naturalist Michael Ellis ( to get a glimpse of some of these wild creatures. Film credits to Bearfish Productions.