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

Photo Friday: California Natives Benefit Pollinators

  We depend on pollinators like bees, birds, and butterflies. They subsist on nectar and pollen and, in turn, help about 75% of the world’s plants and crops produce fruits and seeds. Many of these plants are cultivated to provide food for people. Many native California plants also rely on pollinators in order to reproduce. The fruits and seeds that are created in the process provide necessary sustenance for our native wildlife. (Some animals even eat the fruit of poison oak!) Winter is a perfect time to add California native plants to your garden. The higher rainfall amounts that we …

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Field Updates November 2017

Our Field Technician, Kelley, and two CalPoly student volunteers work on measuring blade length and taking photos.

    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 November. For some people, the big November negative tides provide a great opportunity for going tide pooling or to surf a low tide break. For the Estuary Program, these low tides are the start of our busy fall and winter eelgrass monitoring season. Eelgrass Bed Condition Monitoring This is our third year of conducting an eelgrass survey …

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King Tides and Morro Bay: A Glimpse into the Future

King Tides high and low comparison at the Tidelands staircase in Morro Bay.

    Have you ever wondered what sea level rise might look like in the future? The naturally occurring King Tides, the highest tides of the year, could provide some insight into that question. They occur annually during the winter when the earth, moon, and sun are all aligned and the earth is closest to the sun. (The astronomical term that describes when the earth is closest to the sun is the “perihelion.”) King Tides push coastal boundaries by engulfing the bottoms of stairwells and raising the water level up to the very tops of piers. King Tides in Morro …

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Film Tells the Story of Morro Bay

  You know that feeling when you hear a story that is too good to keep to yourself? Local creators Simo Nylander and Tom Wilmer had that feeling while working on our Bay Story video and podcast series a couple of years ago. The Bay Story video above shares the story of Kaila Dettman and Terry Hooker, who lived on a boat in the Morro Bay estuary for a time.    Simo is a local cinematographer who has worked on a variety of films, including the acclaimed documentary Bōtso. Tom is an on-air and digital media producer who hosts the …

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Explore Morro Bay on National Take a Hike Day

Sweet Springs is a great spot for nature-lovers of all ages. Here, a child admires the view from the new bird blind in the East Sweet Springs expansion.

  A great way to experience the beauty and biological diversity of the Morro Bay estuary is by putting on your boots and heading out on one of our many local trails. In honor of National Take a Hike Day, we’re bringing you suggestions for three local favorites in the watershed. Happy hiking! Montaña de Oro to the Morro Bay Sandspit Choose-your-length beach and dune hike There is nowhere in Morro Bay that sparks the imagination more than the sandspit. Physically, it divides the Morro Bay estuary from larger Estero Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Depending on who you talk with, the …

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Field Updates October 2017: Eelgrass Seed Planting

Though all these seeds came from the same eelgrass bed on North Sandspit, there was lots of variation in size and color. You can see the ribs in the goat in some of the seeds.

    Protecting and restoring the bay and estuary takes a lot of boots on the ground…as well as the occasional wet suit. See what our volunteers and field staff have been working on during the past month. Eelgrass The highlight of fieldwork in October was collecting our final blades of flowering eelgrass and planting the seeds. We learned a lot about flowering patterns throughout the bay. The beds varied in the magnitude, stages, and progression of seed development. Some beds had too few shoots to collect from, while others were plentiful in comparison.   Eelgrass seeds are small and …

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Join the Morro Bay Rain Gauge Network

In the photograph above, sediment erodes from a dirt road during a rainstorm. This sediment can enter streams and end up in the bay.

    Rain is in the forecast, which makes it a perfect time to debut our Rain Gauge Network. This new webpage will display rainfall data from the area surrounding Morro Bay and beyond. Now, we need you to join the network and help us gather that data. Why track rainfall? All precipitation that falls within the Morro Bay watershed can eventually make its way into the estuary through creeks and storm drains. This video shows runoff from roofs, streets, parking lots, etc. entering Morro Bay through a storm drain near the Estuary Program office. Runoff can contain sediment, bacteria, …

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2017 Estuary Program Volunteers of the Year

Mike Lindley, Monitoring Volunteer of the Year, doing one of the thin

  Each fall, we gather together with volunteers from different areas of our program to thank them for their hard work. This year, we gathered at the Old School House in the Los Osos Community Park. We shared pizza, cookies, stories, and heaps of gratitude for the hundreds of hours and immeasurable love of the bay that our volunteers give us each year. We were very grateful to local business for donating goodies for our free Volunteer Appreciation Raffle. Donors included Ascendo Coffee, ESTERO, Growing Grounds Downtown, Kayak Horizons, and Sunshine Health Food Store. Our volunteers are a very important …

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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: Peregrine Falcon

Photo of peregrine falcon in flight near Morro Rock by Kevin Cole

 Photo of peregrine falcon in flight near Morro Rock by Kevin Cole.   The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) is one of the largest falcons in North America. Their wingspan stretches up to 43 inches and they can weigh up to 3.4 pounds. Peregrine falcons are also the fastest animal in the world.  During their characteristic high-speed hunting dive—called a stoop—they have been clocked at 242 mph. (For a fascinating look at how Ken Franklin, a falconer, pilot, and skydiver clocked this speed, check out this article in Air and Space magazine.) When peregrine falcons were added to the California Endangered Species …

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Photo Friday: Changing Light Around Morro Bay

Sweet Springs, looking out at Morro Rock during the day.

  We’re well into autumn, and the days are growing shorter. In Morro Bay, the sun will set at 6:30 p.m. this evening, a full 52 minutes earlier than it did at this year’s summer solstice. While many of us will miss those long summer and early-autumn days, there are many things to look forward to as the days grow shorter. One of them is the way the light changes around our bay. The golden gloaming comes sooner, and the colorful sunsets, too. Below, you will find three pairs of photographs taken at different locations in the bay. For each …

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