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

Photograph Friday: Spring Rain in Morro Bay

At the Estuary Program office, we are always excited to see the rain come down. When enough rain falls, creeks flow at adequate levels, giving fish and other aquatic wildlife a better chance to survive and thrive. On the other hand, rain can wash trash, sediment, and other substances into storm drains, creeks, and out into the bay. It’s important to make sure that we dispose of trash, pet waste, debris, and chemicals properly. so that they can’t catch a ride into our waterways. Today, we are sharing some of our favorite pictures of the most recent storm. If you …

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Native Plant Series #1: Pioneer Sand Dunes and Foredunes

This is our first exploration of a specific plant community found within the Morro Bay watershed. Today, we will learn about the pioneer dunes and foredunes communities located on the Morro Bay Sandspit. This area is probably the harshest environment for plants found in the Morro Bay watershed. Because of its direct exposure to the Pacific Ocean, the Sandspit is a very windy place: the constant salty, sandy wind coming off the ocean keeps plants at a low, small stature. Since sand does not hold water very well, these plants experience moisture conditions similar to a desert. Because of these …

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Finding A New Perspective: Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest 2018

This is the first picture the Morro Bay Cam captured.

  You’ve likely stood near Coleman beach and watched the waves roll in through the mouth of Morro Bay’s harbor, or visited Sweet Springs and looked out over the back bay to see the mud flats at low tide. But, have you ever stood perfectly still—as still as a great egret stalking its prey or a live oak on the edge the boardwalk at the Elfin Forest—to watch the tide roll all the way in and all the way out? It’s a phenomenon that happens twice each day along Morro Bay’s shores, but we don’t have time to observe it …

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Field Updates February 2018: Eelgrass Transplant Videos

One of our longtime volunteers works on harvesting eelgrass blades near Target Rock. Thanks, Marc!

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of hard work in the field. At the Estuary Program, that often means spending time doing research and monitoring work out on the water. Read on to see the progress that our staff and volunteers have made in our eelgrass work during February of 2018.  Our field highlight for February was preparing for and executing our third, small-scale eelgrass restoration. We completed two in 2017—one in March and one in July. Eelgrass was harvested from the healthy bed at Coleman …

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Mutts for the Bay Dispensers Make an Impact

We show our thanks for each sponsor with a custom sticker on their dispenser. This dispenser at the Morro Creek Bridge is sponsored by "Jack" Thomas and the Little White Dog Society of Morro Bay. They may be our fluffiest group of sponsors to date!

  Estuary Program staff and volunteers work on a variety of projects that help the bay. Many people know about our work to help restore eelgrass to the estuary, our efforts to repair rural dirt roads to prevent sediment runoff, and our decades-long volunteer monitoring program that collects extensive data about water quality in our bay and creeks. Fewer people are familiar with the Estuary Program’s work to help dog owners put their pets’ waste in the trash, where it belongs. This is an important part of fulfilling the Estuary Program’s mission because keeping dog poo off the ground means …

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The Morro Bay Watershed Native Plant Series

    The Morro Bay watershed is one of the most botanically diverse regions in California. This diversity can be traced back to the ice ages as California’s coastline receded and advanced over thousands of years, and the tectonic plates settled into their current position. Many communities and species of plants have evolved here as a result of such active geologic change. These plant communities have continued to exist and thrive because San Luis Obispo County still resembles its natural state, despite increasing human habitation and land use development. Because the natural areas of Morro Bay have been so well …

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Morro Bay’s Black Brant: Monitoring the Status of a Bay Icon

This image from 1999 shows a large flock of Black Brant overhead. Brant are no longer coming to Morro Bay in these numbers.

    Guest post by John Roser John’s field biology work began about 35 years ago. Early field work was with California Condors and Bald Eagles. Eventually he detoured into an enjoyable 25-year career in outdoor science education. Over 20 years ago John began a voluntary study of Morro Bay’s wintering Brant Population. His interest in Brant has led him to volunteer with Brant biologists from Baja to Humboldt Bay and as far as Brant breeding colonies in arctic Alaska. In the mid 1990s I often heard the opinion that one of Morro Bay’s icons, Black Brant geese, were in …

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Field Updates January 2018

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of hard work in the field. At the Estuary Program, that often means spending time doing research and monitoring work out on the water. Read on to see what our staff and volunteers have been up to during the first month of 2018! Eelgrass Monitoring We started the new year by monitoring the eelgrass we transplanted in March and July of 2017.  With the help of Cal Poly, including graduate student Erin Aiello, we have been monitoring these plots regularly …

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2017 Accomplishments: Eelgrass Restoration Update

Tim, a Watershed Stewards Program member, plants seeds.

  If you have been following along with our blog, you know that eelgrass has drastically declined in Morro Bay since 2007, and that we’ve been working hard to address this issue. Our staff members have been collaborating with agencies, researchers, and volunteers to conduct extensive monitoring and research efforts that will help us better understand eelgrass growth and the conditions that might be impacting it. Read on to see what we accomplished in 2017.   Experimental eelgrass transplants and transplant monitoring In 2017, we put the knowledge we have gained to work with a small-scale experimental eelgrass transplanting. Partnering …

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2017 Accomplishments: Collaborating for a Healthy Pennington Creek

Pennington Creek waterfall closeup

  The cold clear waters of Pennington Creek provide a home to many species, including our iconic steelhead. Pennington Creek is also home to the California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) Escuela Ranch and the Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School. The Estuary Program works with these landowners and other partners to protect and enhance habitat in and around the creek for sensitive species like steelhead. During 2017, we collaborated to put past projects to good use and to complete groundwork for important upcoming projects. Helping the Waters Run Clear At Cal Poly’s Escuela Ranch, the university is training the next …

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