Published in Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, Volume 124, Issue 6, November 1, 1995, pages 813-823. © 1995 by the American Fisheries Society.
Over 77,000 fish remains from 51 archaeological sites on the central California coast between San Mateo and San Luis Obispo counties, deposited between 6200 B.C. and A.D. 1830, were studied to assess prehistoric species distribution, diversity, and Native American fisheries. Remains were obtained from exposed rocky coastal sites, lagoon-estuaries at Elkhorn Slough and Morro Bay, and the freshwater drainages of the Pajaro and Salinas rivers. On the rocky coast, 58.4% of the remains represented large inshore species, 26.9% were small schooling species, and 11.8% were surfperches (family Embiotocidae). Large inshore species included rockfishes Sebastes spp., lingcod Ophiodon elongatus, kelp greenling Hexagrammos decagrammus, cabezon Scorpaenichthys marmoratus, and monkeyface prickleback Cebidichthys violaceus. At Elkhorn Slough and Morro Bay, about half of the remains of marine species represented moderately small schooling species, including Pacific herring Clupea pallasi, Pacific sardine Sardinops sagax, northern anchovy Engraulis mordax, topsmelt Atherinops affinis, jacksmelt Atherinopsis californiensis, and California grunion Leuresthes tenuis. Surfperches also were common, and specialized local fisheries for flounders or sharks and rays were suggested. Aquatic conditions at Elkhorn Slough were dramatically different from those that exist today. Sites on Elkhorn Slough had both marine and freshwater fishes, and showed site occupation when the Salinas River entered the slough and did not follow its present course into Monterey Bay. Sacramento perch Archoplites interruptus was the most abundant species found at freshwater sites, and remains of extinct thicktail chub Gila crassicauda confirm its presence in the Pajaro and Salinas rivers. Surprisingly rare are the remains of steelhead (the anadromous form of rainbow trout) Oncorhynchus mykiss. As is the case today, Pacific salmon were apparently absent from central coast streams south of the San Lorenzo River. Presumably the remains reflect local species availability,
Social and Behavioral Sciences