San Diego beaches will experience some of the highest tides of the year Tuesday.
The extreme tides, dubbed king tides, can cause flooding and may offer unique insight into the concerning fate of the region's wetlands, according to the San Diego Audubon Society. Water levels are expected to rise above seven feet along San Diego's coastline.
Researchers use king tides as a chance to see what higher sea levels would mean to San Diego's coastal areas.
The San Diego Audubon Society will be in Mission Bay counting Ridgway’s Rails Tuesday, a critically endangered and reclusive bird.
Rising tides will push the birds out of their natural habitat in Mission Bay, giving researchers a unique opportunity to count their population.
When San Diego experiences a king tide, almost all of Kendall Frost Marsh Reserve floods with water, officials said. The endangered birds live in this area and rely on the wetlands in Mission Bay for survival.
Mission Bay was once home to 4,000 acres of sprawling wetlands, officials said. Now, there are only 40 acres of wetlands throughout Mission Bay, leaving the birds with little space to roam.
According to the Audubon Society, the endangered light-footed Ridgway's Rail depend on this 40-acre habitat to live and nest. The king tides force birds to the margin of the salt marsh, as they struggle to keep out of the water.
Researchers are examining the extreme tides to understand what the new normal will look like for remnants of the wetland under rising sea conditions.
Audubon Society officials will stand up for the preservation of the wetlands at the Mission Bay Park Committee meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Mission Bay High School.
The region's wetlands provide a habitat for hundreds of wildlife species and help protect San Diego from climate change impacts such as flooding and decreased water quality, officials said.