112. Endangered and Endemic Species

Santa Lucia fir.
Santa Lucia fir.
California condor in flight.
Sea otters.
Peregrine falcon.
Bald eagle.
Western pond turtle.
Pacific lamprey.

The rugged terrain and isolation of Big Sur have allowed it to become a refuge for numerous rare, threatened and endangered species. A number of plants found in the area are “endemic,” meaning that they only grow here, such as the Santa Lucia fir. This tree is one of the rarest fir trees in the world, and only grows in small pockets in the Santa Lucia Mountains. Many animals, most notably the sea otter, have survived extinction by taking refuge in Big Sur. Threatened birds, such as the peregrine falcon, bald eagle and California condor, are re-establishing populations here. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park also provides a home for sensitive aquatic species, like the California red-legged frog, Western pond turtle and Pacific lamprey. Loss of habitat is one of the main reasons that these aquatic species are struggling. You can help protect their homes by not moving rocks or making dams in or around the river.