Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
Morro Bay National Estuary Program

Upward Bound Students Impress With Estuary Program Projects

Students pose with their finished prototype during the post-presentation reception.

  One of our goals at the Estuary Program is to engage students in learning about the bay, its wildlife, and the challenges that face it. The more they understand and appreciate the estuary, the more likely they are to help keep it healthy and clean. We often go into classrooms, host students in our Nature Center, and take small groups of students on field trips around the bay. This July, we were privileged to work with students in a new capacity, by participating as clients in Cal Poly’s Upward Bound Summer Academy. This program combines classes in math and …

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From the Director’s Desk: Finding Inspiration on Morro Bay

Lexie Bell, Executive Director of the Morro Bay National Estuary Program.

    From the Director’s Desk is a twice-yearly blog series, written by Executive Director Lexie Bell. Lexie plans and directs the program’s work, and collaborates with the Estuary Program’s many partners to expand our collective success in the watershed.  Lexie first began working in Morro Bay as a graduate student at the UC Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. Her graduate work analyzed the economic impact of visitors’ perceptions of environmental quality in Morro Bay. In addition to her Master’s degree, Lexie graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and Biology. …

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Field Updates July 2018: Reports, Mollusks in Eelgrass, and Fish in the Creeks

We commonly spot this nudibranch, Hermissenda crassicornis, in depressions along the mudflat.

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of hard work in the field. At the Estuary Program, that often means spending time doing research and monitoring work out on the water. Read on to see what we’ve been up to during the past month. Data and reporting July was a quiet month for fieldwork. This has given the monitoring staff time to get caught up on data entry and report writing. Keep an eye out for a series of reports related to the health of the estuary …

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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: California Sea Lions in the Estuary

Sea lions took to the new dock right away.

  California sea lions are the largest and fastest marine mammal that live year-round in Morro Bay. They can weigh as much as 860 pounds and swim as fast as 25 miles per hour. They also have between 34 and 38 formidable teeth, including four long canines. They use their teeth to catch their prey, but not to chew it. They swallow their food, mostly fish and squid, whole. Morro Bay’s sea lions have their own dock Sea lions like to rest out of the water on docks or even boats. In a busy harbor like Morro Bay, this habit …

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Shark Week 2018: Help Scientists Track these Essential Predators

  When you think about sharks, what comes to mind? Chances are, you’ll picture a tall, angular fin cutting through the waves and rows upon rows of sharp teeth. You might even picture a shark attack from the movies, with people fleeing up the beach and away from the waterline. It’s less likely that you’ll picture one of the three sharks that thrive in Morro Bay’s protected waters, the swell shark, leopard shark, and horn shark. These diminutive sharks are not the stuff of horror movies, unless you’re a small fish, clam, innkeeper worm, crab, or any of the other mollusks …

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Photograph Friday: Morro Bay Beneath the Surface

  Most of us see only what happens on or above the surface of Morro Bay. We spend time watching the ripples and white caps move across the water, sailboats slip by, and sea otters floating while they rest. We look up at Morro Rock to watch peregrine falcons bring food to their chicks, or to see the fog roll in and encompass it almost entirely.   Not as many of us get to see what happens below the water’s reflective edge. Estuary Program staff are some of the lucky people who get that view. They’ll catch a glimpse of …

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Field Update June 2018: Eelgrass

One new location is across from State Park Marina.

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of field work. At the Estuary Program, that often means spending time doing research and monitoring on the water. Read on to see what we’ve been up to during June 2018.  In 2017, we collaborated with researchers at CalPoly on two small-scale, experimental eelgrass restoration projects. Based on what we learned from that effort, we conducted another round in February and March of 2018. In 2018, we planted eelgrass in five locations—our original location in the forebay near channel marker …

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Independence Day and July 5th Cleanups in Morro Bay

This group of smiling volunteers from Camp Rock participated in the Pick Up the Picnic Campaign last year, and made a big difference for Morro Bay. Thank you!

  July 4 is a time when locals and visitors gather along the Central Coast to celebrate with friends and family. People barbecue in back yards, picnic at parks and beaches, and set up camp near Pismo Beach or Cayucos to watch fireworks displays. What to do in Morro Bay for Independence Day Morro Bay’s Family Fun day always attracts a crowd with a skateboard race, bike parade, live music, magic show, and kids’ carnival. Many people take some time out to enjoy the water by sailboat, motorboat, kayak or paddleboard, too. You can bring your own kayak or paddleboard …

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Native Plant Series #4: Coast Live Oak Woodlands

    Oak woodlands are so characteristic and unique to our state that many think the plant community should be declared California’s state vegetation type. Not sure what a plant community is? Take a look at our introductory post to the Morro Bay Native Plant Series, an exploration of our watershed’s diverse native flora! The term “woodland” is used instead of “forest” because the canopies in a woodland rarely overlap, allowing for more space and sunlight between trees. Woodlands also typically occur on drier soils and at lower elevations than forests. While oak woodlands occur in other states, most of …

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Help Put Morro Bay on the Bioblitz map: Snapshot Cal Coast 2018

Paula and Tom enter observations into iNaturalist during the Snapshot Cal Coast 2018 effort.

What is Snapshot Cal Coast bioblitz? During a bioblitz, citizen scientists document all living things in a certain area, during a specific period of time. Estuary Program staff and volunteers participate in an annual bioblitz called Snapshot Cal Coast, which is hosted by the California Academy of Sciences. This large-scale effort aims to document plants and animals all along the California coast, during a particular week in June. Participants are asked to complete their bioblitzes in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and to focus on intertidal zones (those areas that may be submerged during high tide and exposed during low tides). Help …

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