Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
Blog Posts

Photograph Friday: Morro Bay Beneath the Surface

  Most of us see only what happens on or above the surface of Morro Bay. We spend time watching the ripples and white caps move across the water, sailboats slip by, and sea otters floating while they rest. We look up at Morro Rock to watch peregrine falcons bring food to their chicks, or to see the fog roll in and encompass it almost entirely.   Not as many of us get to see what happens below the water’s reflective edge. Estuary Program staff are some of the lucky people who get that view. They’ll catch a glimpse of …

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Field Update June 2018: Eelgrass

One new location is across from State Park Marina.

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of field work. At the Estuary Program, that often means spending time doing research and monitoring on the water. Read on to see what we’ve been up to during June 2018.  In 2017, we collaborated with researchers at CalPoly on two small-scale, experimental eelgrass restoration projects. Based on what we learned from that effort, we conducted another round in February and March of 2018. In 2018, we planted eelgrass in five locations—our original location in the forebay near channel marker …

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Independence Day and July 5th Cleanups in Morro Bay

This group of smiling volunteers from Camp Rock participated in the Pick Up the Picnic Campaign last year, and made a big difference for Morro Bay. Thank you!

  July 4 is a time when locals and visitors gather along the Central Coast to celebrate with friends and family. People barbecue in back yards, picnic at parks and beaches, and set up camp near Pismo Beach or Cayucos to watch fireworks displays. What to do in Morro Bay for Independence Day Morro Bay’s Family Fun day always attracts a crowd with a skateboard race, bike parade, live music, magic show, and kids’ carnival. Many people take some time out to enjoy the water by sailboat, motorboat, kayak or paddleboard, too. You can bring your own kayak or paddleboard …

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Native Plant Series #4: Coast Live Oak Woodlands

    Oak woodlands are so characteristic and unique to our state that many think the plant community should be declared California’s state vegetation type. Not sure what a plant community is? Take a look at our introductory post to the Morro Bay Native Plant Series, an exploration of our watershed’s diverse native flora! The term “woodland” is used instead of “forest” because the canopies in a woodland rarely overlap, allowing for more space and sunlight between trees. Woodlands also typically occur on drier soils and at lower elevations than forests. While oak woodlands occur in other states, most of …

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Help Put Morro Bay on the Bioblitz map: Snapshot Cal Coast 2018

Paula and Tom enter observations into iNaturalist during the Snapshot Cal Coast 2018 effort.

What is Snapshot Cal Coast bioblitz? During a bioblitz, citizen scientists document all living things in a certain area, during a specific period of time. Estuary Program staff and volunteers participate in an annual bioblitz called Snapshot Cal Coast, which is hosted by the California Academy of Sciences. This large-scale effort aims to document plants and animals all along the California coast, during a particular week in June. Participants are asked to complete their bioblitzes in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and to focus on intertidal zones (those areas that may be submerged during high tide and exposed during low tides). Help …

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Sea Star Wasting Disease Monitoring Update

    Last year, we wrote a post about the Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, a disease that was causing mass mortality of sea stars along the Pacific Coast from Baja California to the Gulf of Alaska. The syndrome is a general description of symptoms found in affected sea stars. Typically, lesions appear on the surface of the stars followed by decay surrounding the lesions, leading to fragmentation of the sea star’s body and eventual death. According to biological oceanographer and microbial ecologist Ian Hewson from Cornell University, this disease is by far the largest marine disease event ever seen. Hewson’s …

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Field Updates April and May 2018: Bioassessment Monitoring and New Team Members

Monitoring team works in the middle of the creek.

    Bioassessment Monitoring Each spring, the Estuary Program conducts bioassessment monitoring throughout the Morro Bay Watershed. Bioassessment monitoring is an important tool that allows us to assess the health of local streams to determine their value as fish habitat. This monitoring involves collecting macroinvertebrates, insects visible to the naked eye, and taking measurements of things like water depth and canopy cover that tell us about the health of the creek. Check out this blog post to learn more about what bioassessment monitoring tells us about the health of our local creeks. Our bioassessment season kicked off on Saturday, April …

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Native Plant Series #3: Maritime and Mixed Chaparral

    Covering almost nine percent of the state, chaparral is one of the most widespread plant communities in California. Not sure what a plant community is? Take a look at our introductory post to the Morro Bay Native Plant Series, an exploration of our watershed’s diverse native flora! In the Morro Bay watershed, we see chaparral plant communities occurring in close association with the southern coastal scrub community and on higher, drier slopes. Since they are typically further inland from the immediate coast, chaparral plants experience greater temperature fluctuations (hotter summers and cooler winters) than coastal scrub plants, but …

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Photograph Friday: Predators and Prey Around Morro Bay

A coyote stands, alert, in a field at El Chorro Regional Park.

    The Morro Bay estuary and watershed are home to many species of plants and animals. The ability of this small geographic area to support such biodiversity is part of what makes it special. The animals around Morro Bay form complex food webs in which some species are both predator and prey. The following images give a glimpse into these relationships.         If you have taken photographs that illustrate predator and prey relationships in or around the Morro Bay estuary, we’d love to see them! Post them to our Facebook page, tag us on Instagram, or email …

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Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest Winners 2018 Announced

Beach evening primrose

  We look forward to April every year. The wildflowers are blooming, the bay view is ever-changing between thick fog, sunshine, and wave-whipping wind. April is also when we recognize Earth Day and celebrate National Poetry Month. At the Estuary Program, we like to bring all of these spring happenings together with a poetry contest that asks people to capture the essence of the Morro Bay estuary in haiku and free verse poems. The poems are judged anonymously and receive points for form, creativity, imagery, and adherence to theme. This year, the 5th anniversary of the contest, a record 101 poets from …

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