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

Have a Happy, Bay-Friendly Halloween!

Photo by Operabug.

  Halloween is a lot of fun; it means candy, costumes, and light-hearted mischief for everyone. But—between candy wrappers, disposable decorations, and party supplies—it can also create waste. If you’re celebrating, don’t fret; you can make it a bay-friendly day by following the tips below. Have your candy, and keep the bay clean, too. Food wrappers and containers are consistently one of the most common forms of trash picked up during International Coastal Cleanup Day. (This year, according to the Ocean Conservancy, volunteers snagged 1,140,222 wrappers and containers—wow.) If light-weight candy wrappers escape from eager trick-or-treaters’ hands, they can easily land on …

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Give a Day for the Bay Success by the Numbers

We picked up 18 pounds of trash from the sandspit, which is essential habitat for many birds, including the snowy plover.

  Our Give a Day for the Bay volunteer campaign came to a close this past weekend, and we are very happy with the results! Here is a breakdown by the numbers: 6 partner organizations offered volunteer opportunities to benefit the bay. 10 cleanups happened, with 9 along the water’s edge, and 1 under the water. 192 volunteers gave a total of 572.5 hours to keeping Morro Bay clean and healthy! Thank you partners and volunteers for your hard work! Below, you’ll find pictures of Give a Day for the Bay volunteers in action. Enjoy!   Tsunami Debris Cleanup on the Sandspit at Montana de Oro …

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Give a Day for the Bay with Eco Rotary

Doreen rakes the path along the water’s edge. Photograph courtesy of Ruth Ann Angus.

  On Saturday, we headed down to Bayshore Bluffs Park to Give a Day for the Bay with our local Eco Rotary. Club members were ready to receive cleanup volunteers with a smile, a delicious spread of brunch items, and a storage shed full of tools for cleaning up the park. How could you resist? Volunteers were happy to get to work. They consulted with Eco Rotary Club members, gathered the tools they needed and were on their way. This Saturday, a dozen volunteers put in about 25 collective hours cleaning up the park, or as Eco Rotary Club President …

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Microbeads and Ocean Pollution

Microbeads and other microplastics show up on beaches worldwide.

  Your toothpaste might have more in common with the Pacific garbage patch than you ever thought possible. Microbeads—tiny little particles of plastic that have a way of getting into everything—are often found in both places. They’re used in many health and beauty products, including toothpastes and face washes, because they can help scrub surfaces clean. Unfortunately, once you spit out your toothpaste, or rinse off your face, they go right down the drain, and eventually end up in our oceans. Once there, they are extremely difficult to get rid of. Microbeads, along with other small pieces of plastic, compose …

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A Celebration to Remember

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  This past weekend, we had the privilege of celebrating our 20th Anniversary with many of our founders, supporters, partners, and community members—all while admiring beautiful views of the bay. Some of the people who came to the event had been involved with the Bay Foundation and the Friends of the Estuary—two organizations that were instrumental in establishing protection for Morro Bay at both the state and the national levels. Many of them still work to protect our bay to this day. Some had worked hard, along with over 700 other community members and experts, to create the comprehensive management plan for the …

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Sea Otter Awareness Week 2015

Sea otter eating in Morro Bay. Photograph courtesy of “Mike" Michael L. Baird, flickr.bairdphotos.com

  It’s Sea Otter Awareness Week, which makes us remember how lucky we are to have a group of southern sea otters living in Morro Bay. Sea otters don’t have the blubber that other marine mammals depend on to keep them warm. Instead, they have water-resistant coats that are very thick, with up to one-million hairs per square inch. Because of this, their pelts were prized by hunters and furriers in the 18th and 19th centuries, leading to a huge reduction in the worldwide otter population. The situation along the California coast was so dire that otters were thought to be …

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Give a Day for the Bay with Morro Bay in Bloom

Thomas, a long-term volunteer with Morro Bay in Bloom, surveys the succulent bed at the top of Centennial Parkway’s staircase.

  Every Saturday morning at 9 a.m., Morro Bay in Bloom volunteers spring into action. They meet at different locations each week, and work together to beautify Morro Bay. When they landscape and tidy public spaces, they follow bay-friendly practices like planting drought-tolerant plants, avoiding the use of herbicides, and removing invasives. We are happy that Morro Bay in Bloom has dedicated three of their regularly scheduled cleanups this summer and fall to our Give a Day for the Bay campaign. This past weekend, the “Bloomies” (as they sometimes call themselves) met at the top of the stairway in Centennial …

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National Estuaries Week Starts Strong and Ends with a Party!

National Estuaries Week starts next Saturday, September 19, and ends on September 26. It’s a chance to celebrate and to focus on taking care of all of the places around the country where freshwater meets the sea. The Morro Bay National Estuary Program is excited to start this special week with a bang by hosting two cleanup sites on the Morro Bay sandspit for International Coastal Cleanup Day. Last year, our volunteer team filled 4 trash bags and collected 48 pounds of debris from these same sites. Statewide, the California Coastal Commission reports that “nearly 67,000 volunteers removed more than 1,190,000 …

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Understanding Eelgrass Decline and Evaluating Restoration Activities

Restoration Projects Manager, Jen Nix (on right) readies materials for our eelgrass seed dispersal project.

  Morro Bay’s eelgrass beds are a critical resource. They provide food and shelter to many plants and animals, including juvenile rockfish, steelhead trout, various shorebirds and waterfowl, and the southern sea otter. Eelgrass also helps to improve water quality. It increases water clarity, produces oxygen, sequesters carbon, and absorbs excess nutrients. Studies have shown that eelgrass is also capable of removing toxic contaminants from marine sediments. Unfortunately, eelgrass beds are diminishing worldwide. Nearly ¼ million acres of eelgrass have been lost globally over the last 30 years. This rate is comparable to losses reported for mangroves, coral reefs, and …

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Assessing the quality of aquatic habitats with CRAM

A small waterfall with healthy Poison Oak (Toxidendron rydbergii) pictured in the foreground, growing along Chorro Creek. Poison oak is a native plant that some consider beautiful.

  The California Rapid Assessment Method, or CRAM for short, is used to determine ecosystem quality for aquatic habitats. These habitats include wetlands, rivers, estuaries, and lakes. The Morro Bay National Estuary Program has used the CRAM assessment both before and after habitat restoration projects throughout the Morro Bay watershed to monitor habitat improvements over time. This method involves evaluating stretches of streams for their vegetation, stream bed complexity, bank stability, and the health of the surrounding ecosystem. To truly determine how healthy a stretch of stream is, you have to get your feet wet! Estuary Program staff have recently …

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