Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
Blog Posts

Plant a Tree for the Estuary

A shady view from Sweet Springs Nature Preserve.

  The City of Morro Bay’s commitment to planting new trees and caring for our existing trees shows. This June will mark 24 years since Morro Bay was designated as an official Tree City. This is great news for residents and visitors, because trees provide a huge variety of benefits beyond their natural beauty. Trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, helping to improve air quality. Trees provide habitat for local animals—including many of the bird species that call Morro Bay home year-round, and those that migrate through on the Pacific Flyway. Perhaps the most obvious benefit of trees is their …

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It’s Earth Day, Be a Super Hero for the Bay!

  In honor of Earth Day, we’d like to encourage you to be a super hero for Morro Bay by taking the clean water pledge. The pledge asks you to do simple things at home and around town to help keep Morro Bay healthy.  Click here to take the pledge today, and be entered to win a stainless steel Estuary Program water bottle! Subscribe to get the Estuary Program’s blog delivered to your inbox each week!  Donate to help the Estuary Program protect and restore Morro Bay.

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Save the date for DogFest 2016

  Estuary Program staff, like many Central Coast residents, love going out and about with our dogs. We take them to the beach, we bring them hiking, we play with them at local parks, and walk them around town.     Dogs give us many wonderful things like companionship, love, and slobbery kisses. They also give us some stinky things…like an average of 3.5 pounds of poop per week. About 281,000 people live in San Luis Obispo County and more than 62,000 dogs (roughly 1 dog per 4.5 people) make their homes here, with about 5,500 dogs located in Morro …

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March Field Updates

A surfboard works as the perfect desk for a day of eelgrass monitoring

  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. Monitoring Updates With the help of NOAA/CCC Veterans Corps members, we reinstalled one staff plate (a long ruler that can be used to measure water depth) that was knocked out during winter storms.     We monitored for sediment during the big rain at the beginning of March.   We completed …

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How could climate change affect Morro Bay?

  The Estuary Program recently developed a climate vulnerability assessment for our estuary, which analyzes the likelihood and severity of climate change effects and presents an adaptation action plan to address them. When considering the possible impacts from climate change, we consulted climate change models, historic data, and local experts to prioritize the possible impacts and our adaptation strategies. This blog post summarizes some of the conclusions from the effort. Temperature rise According to EPA analysis, average global temperatures are expected to increase by between 2°F and 11.5°F by the year 2100, depending on future carbon emissions levels. The impacts …

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Look Who’s Swimming in the Estuary Program Nature Center…Trout!

The steelhead trout eggs were transported to us in protective netting.

  If you’ve been to the Estuary Program Nature Center, you’ve probably seen our Saving Steelhead exhibit. Many visitors stop and watch, entranced, as the fish dart by. It’s important for us to share the steelhead’s story. Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are a special kind of trout. While they are genetically identical to rainbow trout, their behavior sets them apart. Rainbow trout spend their entire lives in freshwater. Steelhead trout hatch in freshwater streams and then migrate to the ocean. They grow big at sea, before returning to the stream where they hatched to spawn. Steelhead are a sensitive species. They …

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The Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest Goes Wild

While monitoring eelgrass, our staff spotted this California sea hare under the water at Coleman beach.

  Our annual poetry contest opens on April 1, and we’re excited to announce a new twist on the contest’s theme. We will continue to accept haiku that focus on any and all aspects of the estuary—we still can’t resist the haiku’s history and its ability to preserve the moment and capture the beauty of nature. We’re also introducing a new contest category that asks writers to pen poems that focus on wildlife native to the estuary or the surrounding watershed. (See our complete contest rules, here.) We hope that this new contest category will give people a chance to learn …

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Spring Bioassessment – Join the Team!

Estuary Program staff complete a habitat assessment during a bioassessment survey in 2015.

  Each spring, the Estuary Program and our volunteers engage in a bioassessment monitoring effort at a variety of sites along local creeks. This monitoring process follows a detailed protocol to collect habitat data and samples of macroinvertebrates or “macros,” which are insects that are visible to the naked eye. Some macros are very sensitive to pollution, so if you find them in a creek, you know that the water quality is good. This water penny, for example, is found in the creeks in our watershed. It spends from one to two years of its life cycle in this larval …

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Symbolic Fencing Helps Morro Bay’s Snowy Plovers

  Western snowy plovers can be hard to see. These shorebirds are small—just about the size of a sparrow. On top of that, they blend in well with the sand and lay their speckled eggs in shallow scrapes or depressions in dune habitat, along beaches, and in other sandy areas. Because it’s so hard to spot these birds, well-meaning beachgoers can accidentally wreak havoc on snowy plover nesting sites. Wandering too close to a nest can frighten an adult plover away, causing it to abandon incubating its eggs. Accidentally walking through a nesting site can destroy it. Though these birds …

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A Busy Weekend in Morro Bay

  Residents and visitors alike love to learn and play in Morro Bay. This weekend, the weather is likely to be clear, so you’ll have the chance to get outside. Here are our picks for a fun weekend in Morro Bay.   For the curious Small Wilderness Area Preservation (SWAP) hosts a Third Saturday Walk Head to the beautiful Elfin Forest in Los Osos bright and early on Saturday morning for a Fungus Foray. This walk that will shed some light on the shady world of fungi. Dennis Sheridan will lead the group through the Elfin Forest, keeping an eye out for …

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