Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.

October Field Updates, 2016

October Field Updates, 2016

Here, Shane places the quadrat at meter 75 of our 150-meter transect.

Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of hard work in the field. Read on to see what our staff and volunteers have been up to during the month of October.

 

Fish trawl study

We started off the month by helping Cal Poly Professor and California Sea Grant Extension Specialist Dr. Jennifer O’Leary conduct fish trawls in Morro Bay. In 2007, seven different sites around Morro Bay were trawled to catalog what species were present. Now, after the decline of eelgrass beds in the bay, the same sites are being trawled again to see if the loss of eelgrass has impacted fish populations.

Our staff was more than happy to spend the week out on a boat in Morro Bay to help out on this project.

The front bay by the mouth of the estuary was one of the sites we helped trawl.

The front of the bay by the mouth of the estuary was one of the sites we helped trawl.

After hauling in the net, we sorted and identified the contents.

Here, Jennifer sorts through Gracilaria for looking for fish and invertebrates, such as Gould’s bubble snails (Bulla gouldiana).

Here, Jennifer sorts through gracilaria for looking for fish and invertebrates, such as Gould’s bubble snails (Bulla gouldiana).

All fish were identified and measured before being released back into the bay.

Here is a specked Sanddab (Citharichthys stigmaeus). We caught a lot of these.

Here is a speckled sanddab (Citharichthys stigmaeus). We caught a lot of these.

Stay tuned for more information about this fascinating study.

 

Eelgrass monitoring

We continued monitoring the eelgrass restoration beds planted in 2012–2014. We are excited to say that we are seeing new patches of eelgrass appearing in the bay, including all the way back by Cuesta Inlet. We will continue to keep an eye on these patches to see if they survive.

Along with monitoring the restoration beds, we started the fall round of bed-condition monitoring. This monitoring takes place at the five most significant beds throughout Morro Bay.

Here, Shane places the quadrat at meter 75 of our 150-meter transect.

Here, Shane places the quadrat (a frame used to mark out an area of habitat for assessment) at meter 75 of our 150-meter transect. This quadrat is one half meter by one half meter. 

The goal of this monitoring is to determine the eelgrass bed condition through density, patchiness, and observational data. Like our other eelgrass monitoring, this is done in collaboration with Cal Poly.

All of the blades on an eelgrass stipe are carefully spread out so that we can measure and photograph them.

We carefully spread out all of the blades on this eelgrass stipe so that we can measure and photograph them.

We place blades of eelgrass on a white board and take a photo. This photo will later be analyzed in a computer program to look at the percentage of the blades covered in black spots and epiphytes and/or epifauna. This will help us to determine the overall health of the blades.

Professional development

It has also been a busy month for conferences. Karissa attended the California Aquatic Bioassessment Workgroup in Davis, CA to hear updates on bioassessment work occurring in the state. The following week, Karissa and Carolyn both attended the 2nd Steelhead Summit, put on by the Salmonid Restoration Federation. The first day of the conference highlighted work on recovery planning, steelhead genetics, coastal monitoring status, fish passage planning, and water conservation efforts. The second day included a fieldtrip to visit water conservation projects in the county. This tour took place in the rain, so we got to see the projects in action! One of the projects on the tour was to Cal Poly’s Escuela Ranch, where the Estuary Program worked with the California Conservation Corps and Cal Poly to install a rainwater harvesting project.

Meredith Hardy from the California Conservation Corps explains how the rainwater tanks Creek capture water from the roofs and fill into tanks. During an average rain year, these tanks can store 280,000 gallons of water which will be used to water cattle during dry months.

Meredith Hardy from the California Conservation Corps explains how the rainwater tanks capture water from the roofs and fill tanks. During an average rain year, these tanks can store 280,000 gallons of water, which will be used to water cattle during dry months.

Volunteer appreciation dinner

We are so thankful for all of our volunteers that help us protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary. Each fall we take the opportunity to thank each of them in person at our Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. Read more about this event and our two volunteers of the year.


 

Did you enjoy these field updates?