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Elkhorn Slough Near Monterey Receives International Wetland Designation

MOSS LANDING (CBS SF) -- The Elkhorn Slough, near Monterey Bay at Moss Landing, has been designated a "wetland slough of international importance" by the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Friday.

With the recognition, the slough joins 38 other wetland sites in the nation -- including the San Francisco Bay estuary -- and more than 2,330 sites worldwide under the world's oldest international environmental treaty, which was signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971. Nearly 90 percent of members of the United Nations have since adopted the treaty.

"I am proud that Elkhorn Slough is being recognized internationally for what we on the central coast of California have long known -- that this wetland is an environmental crown jewel," Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Carmel Valley, said in a statement.

"Elkhorn Slough is a spectacular wetland on the Central California coast, hosting a rich diversity of plants and animals and beloved by the local community," Mark Silberstein, executive director of the Elkhorn Slough Foundation, said.

The slough is a seasonal estuary with intertidal marshes, mudflats, eelgrass beds and oyster communities that nourish wildlife. More than 340 species of birds, 100 species of fish and more than 500 species of invertebrates have been documented in the watershed.

The distinctive habitats are among the rarest and most threatened in California and are home to more than 140 Southern sea otters that feed, rest and raise their pups here, Fish and Wildlife officials said.

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