Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
Blog

Morro Bay National Estuary

From the Director’s Desk: State of the Bay Update

Our Earth Day Pickup and Paddle event drew a wonderful crowd of volunteers who cleaned up the bay and shoreline by paddleboard.

    From the Director’s Desk is a twice-yearly blog series, written by Executive Director Lexie Bell. Lexie plans and directs the program’s work, and collaborates with the Estuary Program’s many partners to expand our collective success in the watershed. Lexie first began working in Morro Bay as a graduate student at the UC Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. Her graduate work analyzed the economic impact of visitors’ perceptions of environmental quality in Morro Bay. In addition to her Master’s degree, Lexie graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and Biology. Previously, …

Continue Reading

Sea Star Wasting Syndrome Monitoring in Morro Bay

Infected sea star; photograph taken on day one, June 27, 2014 on Guemes Island, Washington. Credit: Kit Harma, Evergreen Shore monitor.

  A mysterious disease called Sea Star Wasting Syndrome (SSWS) has been causing mass mortality of sea stars along much of the Pacific Coast from Baja California to the Gulf of Alaska. Twenty-two species of sea stars have been affected by it, making this a die-off event of the greatest magnitude, spread over the greatest geographic area to date. Melissa Douglas, Associate Research Specialist at University of California, Santa Cruz, is an expert on the syndrome. She is concerned about the spread of the disease. As she says, “Past SSWS outbreaks were restricted to Southern CA and Baja Mexico. Now …

Continue Reading

Field Updates April 2017

After collecting the bugs we rinse the sample to remove silt and rocks

  Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of hard work in the field. Today, we’re bringing you our first set of monthly field updates to show you what our staff and volunteers are doing on the ground. Bioassessment Field Surveys April was a busy month for our field staff. Our bioassessment season kicked off on Saturday, April 8th with our annual training. We had 27 volunteers attend this training to learn how to collect macroinvertebrate samples and conduct creek habitat assessments. Each of these surveys take approximately four hours …

Continue Reading

Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest 2017 Winners

A view of Morro Rock over a long stretch of dunes on the sandspit.

    Every year, the Estuary Program holds a poetry contest focused on the bay and watershed. We always include a haiku category, since haiku are traditionally focused on nature. We also include a free verse category with an annual theme. This year, we asked our free-verse-writers to read our State of the Bay report and to focus on any of the issues or ideas discussed in it. Estuary Program staff and our wonderful guest judges were impressed with the response and the work that we received. A record 121 entries came in before the deadline, and it was very difficult to choose …

Continue Reading

Pelican Release on Morro Bay with Pacific Wildlife Care

The pelican swam away toward a flock that had gathered on the bay side of the sandspit.

    From time to time, we get calls from people who have found an injured or sick bird near the bay. They’re concerned and want to help, but they’re not sure what to do. We are lucky to be able to direct these people to Pacific Wildlife Care, a local nonprofit that has been helping San Luis Obispo wildlife for the past thirty years. This winter, Estuary Program Communications & Outreach Coordinator Rachel Pass got one of these calls. This time, it was from her mom, Lynn, who was visiting from out of town. She had been out for …

Continue Reading

Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: Innkeeper Worm

    Mudflats can look barren, though they’re anything but. They are composed of fine sediment that settles out of the water, building up over many years. Mudflats often form along the edges of estuaries, like Morro Bay, that are protected by a sandspit. The slow moving, shallow waters near the shore allow organic material to linger as it breaks down, making mudflats especially nutrient rich.  This allows these flat expanses to host a lot of life. Another interesting feature of mudflats is that they are sometimes submerged and sometimes exposed, all depending on the tides. The animals that live …

Continue Reading

Eelgrass Restoration in Morro Bay Spring 2017

Eelgrass isopod (Idotea resecata).

    Greetings, readers! This is Catie, the Morro Bay National Estuary Program’s Communications and Outreach Intern. I had the privilege of participating in the Estuary Program’s most recent small-scale experimental eelgrass restoration effort. We want to fill you in on the process here. Eelgrass (Zostera marina) plays a number of important roles in the function and health of the Morro Bay ecosystem.   Its long blades form an underwater forest, which provides a diverse crowd of creatures a place to rest, find food, and spawn. These are some of the creatures that we found during the replanting effort: The …

Continue Reading

Finding Poetry in Science through Morro Bay

442564-Albert-Einstein-Quote-In-scientific-thinking-are-always-present

    Sometimes, in some places, science and poetry unite. When these seemingly unlike things come together, it’s like the confluence of fresh and salt water in an estuary, forming a space entirely new, rich, and nuanced. The Estuary Program’s annual poetry contest, A National Treasure in Words, is such a place. This year, we are asking writers to create free verse poems about the scientific issues and data discussed in our 2017 State of the Bay report. When you open the report, you might be inspired by the migration patterns of brant geese, the flow of creeks from the hills …

Continue Reading

Photograph Friday: Enjoying Morro Bay and Beyond

Sticky Monkey Flower on Cerro Cabrillo Trail

  The Morro Bay estuary and the lands that drain into it are very special places. They provide sustenance, shelter, and other necessities for many diverse lifeforms. The tiny invertebrates clinging to rocks in the creeks, crabs hunting for food in the eelgrass beds, pelicans diving down into the bay, and harbor seals that search for fish below the waves all depend on the bay and watershed. These areas also provide ample opportunities for people to fulfill their need to connect with the land and the water in their free time. We were struck by the variety of ways that people can enjoy …

Continue Reading

State of the Bay 2017: Habitat Protection, Steelhead, and Birds

Brant geese. Photograph courtesy of Ruth Ann Angus.

    Our State of the Bay 2017 report contains data that the Estuary Program and our partners have collected over the years. We release this report every three years to answer common questions about the health of Morro Bay and its watershed. Last week’s blog discussed eelgrass, sedimentation, and climate change. In this week’s blog, we address the indicator questions related to habitat protection, steelhead, and birds. Protecting Habitat for People and Wildlife Habitats are the natural environments where animals, plants, and other organisms live. The Estuary Program and its partners work to protect, enhance, and restore habitats to …

Continue Reading