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

Celebrating Estuaries, Otters, and the California Coast

September is full of special days for people who love the coast: National Estuaries Week This weeklong celebration of all the places where fresh water meets the salty sea is close to our hearts. It starts on International Coastal Cleanup Day this Saturday, and ends on National Public Lands Day on September 24. It’s a great time to get out and experience your local bay and do something to help it thrive. Sea Otter Awareness Week Though our weeks are always filled with sea otters in Morro Bay, Sea Otter Awareness Week begins September 18. It’s a time to focus …

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What Are Our Bugs Telling Us? Our Data is Here!

The Tricorythodes pictured here was collected from our local creeks. This small mayfly is popular with fish, but they swarm upon hatching, making conditions difficult for fly fishing.

  Our Monitoring Program and its dedicated corps of volunteers use various scientific methods to track the health of our waters. One tool in our arsenal is bioassessment monitoring, a detailed effort where we gather habitat data and collect macroinvertebrates or “macros,” bugs visible to the naked eye. Our 2016 Bioassessment Effort In April and May of this year, over 20 volunteers joined our staff in collecting habitat data and macro samples from eight sites on local creeks. Collectively, these volunteers put in over 100 hours of time to collect this data. At each site, they recorded over a thousand …

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August Field Updates

They got a calm, glassy morning for monitoring. 

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 August. Monitoring Staff Updates August was a quiet month for field work. Our monitoring staff spent time entering data and planning for upcoming eelgrass monitoring projects, but still got out into the field a few times. Our Field Technician, Evan, put on his snorkel gear and helped CalPoly professor Jenn Yost collect more eelgrass samples for genetic analysis.    We collected water …

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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: California Sea Hare

Estuary Program staff found this sea hare in an eelgrass bed near Coleman beach.

    Look deep into the eyes of this California Sea Hare (Aplysia californica), as it moves along the bottom of Morro Bay. Can’t find them? There is one eye located right beneath each rhinophore, or tentacle, at the front of the sea hare’s head. While you can look into the sea hare’s eyes (now that you’ve found them), the sea hare can’t return your gaze. Their vision is different from ours—they don’t see objects, but they can sense light and shadow. This allows them to avoid predators and to avoid coming out of the water during the daylight hours, …

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Good, Clean, Boating Fun on the Morro Bay Estuary

Harbor Patrol Supervisor Becka Kelly and supplies

    There’s still time to enjoy Morro Bay from your boat this summer. While you’re taking in the sights and sounds amongst the gentle waves of the estuary or Estero Bay beyond, you can help protect our waters. Here’s how. 1. Make sure what goes in the head stays in the holding tank: Check your Y-valve for leaks You’d rather focus on the wind and the waves, but sometimes nature calls.  When you flush the head on your boat, untreated sewage moves into your holding tank. Your Y-valve is the only thing standing between that sewage and the bay waters that …

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Textures of Morro Bay Photo Contest 2016 Winners

  Our Textures of Morro Bay Photo Contest asked photographers to capture the unique and varied textures of the estuary and watershed. We were pleased to receive submissions from locals and visitors, from casual and serious photographers, and from camera-phone devotees and those who only use SLRs. The images themselves were stunning. They included more textures than we had imagined, along with a variety of Morro Bay’s moods in different locations around the bay and the surrounding watershed. The judges deliberated over anonymous submissions, weighing each photograph’s use of the theme, each photograph’s composition, and the artistic impact of the photograph …

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July Field Updates

  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 July.   Eelgrass Surveys We had an exciting month of eelgrass surveys in July. Our monitoring staff helped CalPoly Professor Jenn Yost collect eelgrass samples for genetic analysis. Thanks to Tenney Rizzo from Cal Poly for some great group shots!   Fish seining at Windy Cove We also got to help CalPoly graduate student Erin Aiello seine for fish at Windy …

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Photograph Friday: Morro Bay Skies

    Morro Bay is well-known for the marine layer that often covers the bay and the surrounding towns. (Read John Lindsey’s recent article about how El Nino made this year’s June gloom and no-sky July even stronger.) But the sky above the estuary and watershed has many different moods. On this Photograph Friday, we want to share a few of our favorite photographs of Morro Bay skies with you.         We hope you might share some of your favorite photographs with us before our Textures of Morro Bay Photo contest closes at midnight tonight. Subscribe to get …

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iNaturalist: Bringing Technology and Nature Together in Morro Bay

    In Morro Bay, the natural world surrounds us, no matter where we are. It’s right outside our windows. It lines the paths we walk, bike, and hike. It reminds us just how much life depends on its waters. Nature is why so many of us choose to visit and live in Morro Bay. If you’re the kind of person who loves to be surrounded by nature and who is also interested in science and technology, you might like iNaturalist. It’s a smart phone and tablet app that allows people to upload pictures of the plants and animals they see. …

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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: California Horn Shark

    The tide was very low at our recent beach cleanup at the Morro Bay State Park Marina, and volunteers took the opportunity to look for trash amongst rocks that are often submerged beneath the water’s edge. They picked up bottles, bags, cups, cigarette filters, and other items, ensuring that the bay wouldn’t pull them back in when the tide rose. While looking for trash, one volunteer found an unexpected and beautiful surprise: a horn shark’s egg case. It was a wonderful reminder of how much life there is beneath the surface of the Morro Bay estuary. Horn sharks …

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