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

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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Sea Star Wasting Disease Monitoring Update

    Last year, we wrote a post about the Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, a disease that was causing mass mortality of sea stars along the Pacific Coast from Baja California to the Gulf of Alaska. The syndrome is a general description of symptoms found in affected sea stars. Typically, lesions appear on the surface of the stars followed by decay surrounding the lesions, leading to fragmentation of the sea star’s body and eventual death. According to biological oceanographer and microbial ecologist Ian Hewson from Cornell University, this disease is by far the largest marine disease event ever seen. Hewson’s …

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Field Updates April and May 2018: Bioassessment Monitoring and New Team Members

Monitoring team works in the middle of the creek.

    Bioassessment Monitoring Each spring, the Estuary Program conducts bioassessment monitoring throughout the Morro Bay Watershed. Bioassessment monitoring is an important tool that allows us to assess the health of local streams to determine their value as fish habitat. This monitoring involves collecting macroinvertebrates, insects visible to the naked eye, and taking measurements of things like water depth and canopy cover that tell us about the health of the creek. Check out this blog post to learn more about what bioassessment monitoring tells us about the health of our local creeks. Our bioassessment season kicked off on Saturday, April …

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Native Plant Series #3: Maritime and Mixed Chaparral

    Covering almost nine percent of the state, chaparral is one of the most widespread plant communities in California. 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! In the Morro Bay watershed, we see chaparral plant communities occurring in close association with the southern coastal scrub community and on higher, drier slopes. Since they are typically further inland from the immediate coast, chaparral plants experience greater temperature fluctuations (hotter summers and cooler winters) than coastal scrub plants, but …

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Photograph Friday: Predators and Prey Around Morro Bay

A coyote stands, alert, in a field at El Chorro Regional Park.

    The Morro Bay estuary and watershed are home to many species of plants and animals. The ability of this small geographic area to support such biodiversity is part of what makes it special. The animals around Morro Bay form complex food webs in which some species are both predator and prey. The following images give a glimpse into these relationships.         If you have taken photographs that illustrate predator and prey relationships in or around the Morro Bay estuary, we’d love to see them! Post them to our Facebook page, tag us on Instagram, or email …

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Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest Winners 2018 Announced

Beach evening primrose

  We look forward to April every year. The wildflowers are blooming, the bay view is ever-changing between thick fog, sunshine, and wave-whipping wind. April is also when we recognize Earth Day and celebrate National Poetry Month. At the Estuary Program, we like to bring all of these spring happenings together with a poetry contest that asks people to capture the essence of the Morro Bay estuary in haiku and free verse poems. The poems are judged anonymously and receive points for form, creativity, imagery, and adherence to theme. This year, the 5th anniversary of the contest, a record 101 poets from …

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What to do in Morro Bay

Looking inland from the top of Black Hill in spring.

  Wildflowers are blooming, birds are singing, and the afternoon winds have been picking up speed. It’s definitely spring in Morro Bay! Every year during the spring and summer visitors stop by the Estuary Program office asking for the best spots to enjoy our beautiful estuary and things to do that will help them learn more about the area. We’re sharing some of our favorite what-to-do tips with you, too. Go birding Bring your scope or binoculars and visit one of the area’s numerous birding spots. Sweet Springs Morro Coast Audubon’s expanded Sweet Springs preserve in Los Osos is a …

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From Seas to Trees, Plastic Pollution Takes a Toll

  When you look at this picture, what do you see?  You might note Morro Rock, the waves washing along the shore, bits of brown kelp, green algae, a shell, and other organic beach debris. How about this picture? At first glance, this second picture might look just like the first, but it isn’t quite. That green blob that looks like it might be algae is actually a tennis ball buried in the sand. And, some of that stringy organic-looking beach debris is actually fishing line, tossed and tangled with strands of plant debris. It is easy to look at …

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Native Plant Series #2: Southern Coastal Scrub

    The Southern coastal scrub plant community is one of the most common plant communities found in our watershed. 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! Climatic conditions, soil type, topography, and other features determine what types of plants will grow in a particular region, and the coastal scrub plant community occurs on relatively dry soils in areas where a Mediterranean climate prevails. The Mediterranean climate exists along the Central Coast of California along with a handful …

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Citizen Scientists Make a Difference for Morro Bay

We used the Trash Tracker for the first time at our inaugural Pickup and Paddle event in 2017. We're excited to continue using it this year!

  While not everyone can be a marine biologist, a meteorologist, or a conservation ecologist, almost anyone can help contribute to the wealth of knowledge that these experts draw from in their work. Our own Monitoring program uses data gathered by citizen scientist volunteers and staff members to keep an eye on long-term trends in water quality, bacteria levels, and other factors that influence stream and bay health. In honor of National Citizen Science Day tomorrow, we’re sharing a few ways that you can help move science forward at home and beyond. Marine debris projects Clean Swell This simple app created …

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