Substrate types in the Point Sur SMR are generally low-relief bedrock and large areas of boulders and cobble. The sub-canopy was dominated by dense stands of the stalked kelp Pterygophora, and the understory had the highest percent cover of fleshy red algae seen in any of the CCSR MPAs. Fish densities were generally low here, although kelp rockfish were seen in particularly high densities, and predatory sunflower stars were more abundant here than at other MPAs.
The reference sites at Point Sur were very similar to those within the MPA, but with more patchy areas of sand interspersed with areas of low-relief bedrock, boulder and cobble. Despite the high cover of sand and lower availability of hard substrate, density of the giant kelp ( Macrocystis) at these sites was recorded at the highest level seen among sites in the CCSR. Kelp greenlings, a fish commonly seen in mixed sand and low-relief reef habitat, were particularly abundant here, as was the giant-spined star, an important predator in kelp forest communities.