Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
Blog Posts

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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Photo Friday: Focus on Water

Water levels in the salt marsh depend on the tides. Here, California horn snails are visible in a pool left behind as the tide went out.

  This is the time of year that we start hoping to see more rain falling along the Central Coast. Rain feeds the creeks that flow into the Morro Bay estuary. Having enough fresh water in those creeks helps fish, other animals, and aquatic plants to grow and thrive. (See this article from local meteorologist John Lindsey for more information on how the drought affects Morro Bay.) Today, we’re paying a photo tribute to water as it moves from creeks, through the salt marsh, and out into the bay.   Creeks     Tidal Channels and Salt Marsh     …

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California’s Plastic Bag Ban and Morro Bay

Single-use plastic bags are lightweight and can easily blow out of the trash or your car trunk into a tree or storm drain, and eventually end up in our waterways.

Voters approved California Proposition 67 this week, upholding the plastic bag ban that the state senate originally passed in September of 2014. The newly approved law goes into effect right away, requiring stores across the state to charge a minimum of 10 cents for a reusable or paper bag. Here is some information about how the law may affect Morro Bay, the people who live near it, and the wildlife that depend on it. Does the law affect San Luis Obispo County’s bag ban? Because San Luis Obispo County’s bag ban went into effect before January 1, 2015, it will …

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October Field Updates, 2016

Here, Shane places the quadrat at meter 75 of our 150-meter transect.

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 October.   Fish trawl study We started off the month by helping Cal Poly Professor and California Sea Grant Extension Specialist Dr. Jennifer O’Leary conduct fish trawls in Morro Bay. In 2007, seven different sites around Morro Bay were trawled to catalog what species were present. Now, after the decline of eelgrass beds in the bay, the same sites are being trawled again …

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2016 Volunteers of the Year

Karen stands at Windy Cove.

    Our volunteers are very special people, with a wide range of interests and talents. They paddle out in the wee hours of the morning to measure dissolved oxygen content in the bay, take plankton samples from local piers, get muddy monitoring water quality in local creeks, provide indispensable advice through our boards and committees, welcome visitors in to our Nature Center, and much more. We are thankful for them all throughout the year, and we have the opportunity to thank them in person each fall, at our Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. This year, we gathered at the Old School House …

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Bay-Friendly Halloween 2016

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  Halloween is a lot of fun; it means candy, costumes, and light-hearted mischief for everyone. But—between candy wrappers, disposable decorations, and party supplies—it can also create waste. You can make it a bay-friendly day by following the tips below. Have your candy, and keep the bay clean, too. Food wrappers and containers are consistently one of the most common forms of trash picked up during International Coastal Cleanup Day. (This year, according to the Ocean Conservancy, volunteers snagged 888,589 food wrappers alone.) If light-weight candy wrappers escape from eager trick-or-treaters’ hands, they can easily land on the street, make their way …

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Where is the water? Tracking water in our creeks

While pressure transducers and other automated equipment collect important data, much of our long-term dataset is collected by hand. Volunteers measure water quality each month by going out to creek or bay sites with equipment in hand. They take note of things like water temperature, dissolved oxygen content, and other measures that indicate creek health.

    Measuring the water level in local creeks gives us valuable data. We collect this data with pressure transducers. A pressure transducer is a water-level measuring device that we install by submerging it in the creek. It continuously measures the pressure of the water pushing down on it and converts it into a height measurement. These instruments can collect data for months or even years. Pressure transducers can be used in a wide range of applications, from weather stations, to flood control, to tracking reservoir water levels. We use these devices in our local creek systems to estimate how much …

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September Field Updates

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  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 September. Eelgrass September kicked off our busy fall season of eelgrass monitoring. We started the monitoring of eelgrass restoration beds planted in 2012–2014 for the presence and condition of eelgrass. To conduct this monitoring, our staff heads out on paddleboards with handheld GPS units and snorkel gear to find each restoration bed in search of eelgrass. Information gathered from this monitoring …

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Exploring the History of Morro Bay

The San Salvador docks in Morro Bay. Photograph by U.S. Coastguard Station Morro Bay.

    History Alive On September 29, 2016, a replica of explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo’s ship, the San Salvador, docked in Morro Bay. Cabrillo made several voyages by sea during the 1500s. His most famous journey to find the Northwest Passage led him along the California coast. In 1542, he landed his ship, the San Salvador, in what is now San Diego Harbor and claimed the land for the King of Spain. He then continued his expedition north along the coast and past Estero Bay. Cabrillo is credited with naming Morro Rock “El Moro” after the style of hat worn …

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Coastal Cleanup Day on the Morro Bay Sandspit

The whole crew celebrates their work and Coastal Cleanup Day.

  A wonderful group of volunteers came together to clean up the Morro Bay sandspit for International Coastal Cleanup Day. We gathered early on the Embarcadero to hear about the snowy plovers that depend on the sandspit dunes habitat to safely nest and hatch their chicks. We learned to stay outside of the yellow fencing on the sandspit in order to protect them.   Then, we hitched a ride with Thomas, Captain of the Lost Isle Tiki Boat, through the fog and out to the sandspit. (Thank you, Thomas!) We put on gloves, grabbed our recycling and trash bags, pocketed our pencils, and held tight …

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