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

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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Field Updates September 2017: Pikeminnow and Eelgrass

Collected seeds are held in mesh bags in the estuary until they mature. Mature seeds will have a hard, longitudinally ribbed coat and can vary in color, including olive, dark brown and black.

    Protecting and restoring the bay and estuary takes a lot of boots on the ground. See what our volunteers and field staff have been working on during the past month. Pikeminnow Management Chorro Creek used to be home to a healthy population of steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), however their numbers have declined. While there are multiple factors that contribute to this, a fish called the Sacramento pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus grandis) put pressure on steelhead. Pikeminnow eat juvenile steelhead and compete with steelhead for food and habitat. While native to other parts of California, pikeminnow are not native to the Morro …

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Be Sea-Otter Aware in Morro Bay

Otters

  Sea Otter Awareness Week is drawing to a close, but—lucky for residents and visitors—sea otters live in Morro Bay year-round. This story could have been different; sea otters were once hunted almost to extinction for their thick pelts. (They have about one-million hairs per square inch, which helps keep them warm in our cold waters.) They were so scarce that they were thought to be extinct along the California Coast. However, one small group of otters survived along the coast of Big Sur; this group was first sighted in the 1930s. The otters that you see in Morro Bay …

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Celebrating the Complexity of the Morro Bay Estuary

The back bay is totally inundated at this high king tide.

  National Estuaries Week runs through September 23 and celebrates the benefit we reap from our thriving coastal ecosystems. This has us thinking about how complex and special estuary ecosystems and the wildlife that thrives here are. Estuaries are places of transition. The salty tides wash in and out over the mud flats, inundating the marsh and mixing with the freshwater influx from upland streams. The plants and animals that live in the estuary and the habitats that border its edges have special adaptations to survive these changes. The time-lapse video above shows a complete twelve-hour tidal cycle in Morro Bay. (Video …

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Coastal Cleanup Day 2017

Here is a picture of the whole wonderful cleanup crew for 2017.

  Today was the 31st Coastal Cleanup Day. This international event is the largest annual volunteer event in California, and the Estuary Program is always happy to work with volunteers to pick up trash on the Morro Bay sandspit. This morning’s group of volunteers gathered early at Morro Bay Landing to hear from Sylvia, a California State Parks representative, about how snowy plovers use the sandspit and what we can do to help protect them. These small shorebirds are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and as a bird of special concern for the State of California. Morro Bay’s sandspit …

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