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

January Field Updates, 2017

A beautiful view at Walters Creek.

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 January. 2017 started off with an exciting series of storms. On January 4, the Morro Bay watershed received an impressive 3.84 inches of rain within a 24-hour period. Our staff went out to check on different creek sites and discovered that Chorro Creek rose more than 9 feet, overtopping a county bridge on Canet Road. This is the first time that has …

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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: Bat Rays

Estuary Program Monitoring staff got a good view of this bat ray while monitoring eelgrass beds.

  Bat rays (Myliobatis californica) are a key predator along the coast of California and Oregon. They can grow to six feet wide and weigh as much as 200 pounds, though most rays are smaller than this. The largest ray caught off the coast of California was recorded at 181 pounds. These fish eat a variety of foods including mollusks (like abalone and clams), invertebrates (like crabs), and some smaller fishes. They dig up clams by flapping their pectoral fins, which look like wings, to create suction, and then rooting in the sand with their snouts. Rays crush the clams whole, …

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Photo Friday: Watching the Rain

Chorro Creek at Canet Road was at 6 feet on Thursday, January 19.

  This winter has been exciting for weather watchers across California. The Morro Bay watershed received almost four inches of rain in the month of December, and January has started out wet, too. We are currently experiencing the effects of an atmospheric river—a long, narrow section of the atmosphere that transports a large amount of moisture. Local weather forecasts predict that Sunday, January 22, will be the biggest storm yet. We’ve been keeping an eye on the sky and paying close attention to the streams that are transporting all of this precipitation to the estuary. Below, you’ll find images of the …

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December Field Updates, 2016

This horn shark hid in the eelgrass bed at State Park Marina as the tide receded. Horn sharks aren’t known for their speed and graceful swimming. Rather, they move slowly and like to hide among crevices in rocks, in kelp, and in eelgrass beds like this one was doing.

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 December. Eelgrass Monitoring In 2005, with help from the Battelle Marine Sciences staff, we established four permanent transects for annual eelgrass monitoring in Morro Bay. These transects were chosen to represent different zones of the bay and capture differences between these zones. We added an additional transect in 2012. In December, we monitored two of these transects along with our other surveys. …

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Director’s Letter: A Window on the Bay

We sometimes see mother otters with pups on their chests floating by.

    Lexie Bell has been with the Estuary Program for more than six years. 2016 was her first full year as Executive Director, and it’s been a year full of progress and inspiring partnerships. Below, you’ll find Lexie’s reflections on the past year and her hopes for the year to come.   Hello Friends, Have you visited our office lately? Our work here at the Estuary Program has a lot of perks (paddleboarding for science, anyone?), but one of the most immediate is the simple pleasure of looking out our office window. The view of the bay is stunning …

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Top Estuary Program Blog Posts of 2016

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    The Estuary Program blog has been up and running for 100 weeks! That’s 100 posts about stewardship, citizen science, the health of the bay, field work, people who love the bay, the plants and animals that call the estuary home, and other topics. We are grateful to have dedicated readers who have followed along with us throughout the past two years. At this milestone, we’d like to pause and look back over our most popular posts of 2016.   A National Treasure in Words Poetry Contest Shortcut to the winning poems. This post called for poetry entries for our annual contest, …

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From Morro Bay to New Orleans, Estuary Programs Make a Difference

Marshland in Plaquemines Parish is disappearing quickly as waves and currents wash land away.

  This past week, Executive Director Lexie Bell and Communications & Outreach Coordinator Rachel Pass journeyed all the way to New Orleans, Louisiana. There, they met with staff from the 27 other National Estuary Programs across the country and toured the local Barataria-Terrebonne estuary. National connections Congress established the National Estuary Program in 1987 through the Clean Water Act. There are currently 28 estuaries in the country included in the non-regulatory program. Each of these estuary programs works to address critical water quality issues in their area. National Estuary Programs protect bays big and small. Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay, …

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Help Scientists See the Future in King Tides

The boat ramp was also inundated by the high water.

  At the Estuary Program office, tides rule much of our work. We plan our eelgrass monitoring surveys around them. We schedule our dawn patrol and bay bacteria volunteer sessions based on them. We watch as boats, birds, and marine mammals move with the pull of the high and low tides outside our office windows. King Tides are the highest tides of the year, and they demand extra attention. Before the boardwalk trail was built at the State Park marina, King Tides regularly inundated the dirt trail along the salt marsh’s edge. They raise docks to their uppermost limits and …

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November Field Updates, 2016

Karissa with fins

Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and wildlife 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 November.   Eelgrass Monitoring November was a busy month of eelgrass fieldwork for the monitoring staff. We continued monitoring the eelgrass restoration bed near Coleman beach and also took advantage of the great negative tides to conduct bed condition monitoring. These negative tides are great for fieldwork because of how much of the intertidal zone (the area that is exposed at a …

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Giving Thanks at the Morro Bay National Estuary Program

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    At this time of year, many of us are thinking about what we have to be thankful for. At the Estuary Program, our list is long. We appreciate the dozens of volunteers who give hundreds of hours collecting data on the streams and bay, keeping the Mutts for the Bay dog waste bag dispensers stocked, and serving on our board and committees. We are thankful for our partners, past and present, and for the long list of people who came together to establish Morro Bay as an estuary of both state and national significance. We are thankful that …

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