Wild San Diego


With a population of ~3.4 million people, and more moving in every day, almost all of San Diego looks man-made. Even its bays and lakes are artificial, created by damming box canyons and dredging tidal marshes. With its dense coastal population, massive military bases, and more farms than any county in the United States, San Diego barely resembles its former, more natural self.

But first impressions can be deceptive. Look closely and you’ll discover a landscape vibrating with wildlife! Sandwiched between harsh inland deserts and the cold Pacific Ocean, between Mexico and the rest of North America, San Diego is a meeting place. Where these seemingly inhospitable worlds collide, is an explosion of life.

With more ecosystems than any other city in the world – from deserts, forests, and chaparral to rivers, estuaries, intertidal zones, and the Pacific Ocean, San Diego is the most biodiverse city in America. However, the geographic isolation that created so much of San Diego’s diversity is now one of its greatest threats. In the face of massive anthropogenic transformation, the plants and animals here are now trapped by deserts to the east, ocean to the west, a border to the south, and urbanization to the north.

To survive here, they must learn to live alongside people, or they won’t live at all.

Together, we will discover the wild side of San Diego; we will see thousands of migrating ducks land on the bay, coyotes running past a baseball field, dolphins riding waves alongside surfers, whales breaching offshore from coastal skyscrapers and huge schools of leopard sharks teeming in the shallow crowded waters of La Jolla Cove. We’ll witness California ground squirrels fixing up old tunnels, red-masked parakeets residing in palm trees above homes, grey foxes drinking from a backyard fountain, hummingbirds dipping their beaks into giant African Aloes flowers, and a puma prowling in a neighborhood canyon. And we’ll delight in Grebes dancing over the water in pairs, and harbor seals basking in the sun until it sets – only to marvel at brilliantly blue waves crashing on the beach later that night when dinoflagellates brighten the darkness with bioluminescence.

In ‘Wild San Diego’, we’ll follow the stories of wild animals making a living throughout a full annual cycle in a landscape reshaped by humans. We’ll discover how, despite its urban transformation, “America’s Finest City” is still one of the wildest places in North America.