Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
conservation

Native Plant Series #2: Southern Coastal Scrub

    The Southern coastal scrub plant community is one of the most common plant communities found in our watershed. 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! Climatic conditions, soil type, topography, and other features determine what types of plants will grow in a particular region, and the coastal scrub plant community occurs on relatively dry soils in areas where a Mediterranean climate prevails. The Mediterranean climate exists along the Central Coast of California along with a handful …

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Field Updates March 2018: Eelgrass Transplanting and Sediment Sampling

No, that’s not a grass skirt. That is 25 eelgrass rhizomes tied onto rebar, ready to be planted.

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 March of 2018.  Eelgrass In the last few months, you might have seen our staff and volunteers in waders at Coleman Beach or trudging through the mud in the back bay during the last few months. They have been busy …

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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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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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Director’s Desk Year-End Reflections 2017: Collaborating for Morro Bay

    From the Director’s Desk is a twice-yearly blog series, written by Executive Director Lexie Bell. Lexie plans and directs the program’s work, and collaborates with the Estuary Program’s many partners to expand our collective success in the watershed. Lexie first began working in Morro Bay as a graduate student at the UC Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. Her graduate work analyzed the economic impact of visitors’ perceptions of environmental quality in Morro Bay. In addition to her Master’s degree, Lexie graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and Biology. Previously, …

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Field Updates July 2017

George and Estuary Program volunteer, Nick, finish planting eelgrass shoots within a one-meter squared plot.

    Estuary Program staff and volunteers were hard at work in the field this past month. Fieldwork in July focused on preparing for a second round of eelgrass restoration. As you may recall, we collaborated with CalPoly on a similar effort in March, 2017. This effort was conducted earlier in the year than in past efforts in hopes that the eelgrass would become established before large macroalgae blooms, which typically occur during the summer here in Morro Bay. After four months, we were seeing growth and expansion of eelgrass at our forebay plot (or, eelgrass had expanded outside of …

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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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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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Understanding Eelgrass Decline and Evaluating Restoration Activities

Restoration Projects Manager, Jen Nix (on right) readies materials for our eelgrass seed dispersal project.

  Morro Bay’s eelgrass beds are a critical resource. They provide food and shelter to many plants and animals, including juvenile rockfish, steelhead trout, various shorebirds and waterfowl, and the southern sea otter. Eelgrass also helps to improve water quality. It increases water clarity, produces oxygen, sequesters carbon, and absorbs excess nutrients. Studies have shown that eelgrass is also capable of removing toxic contaminants from marine sediments. Unfortunately, eelgrass beds are diminishing worldwide. Nearly ¼ million acres of eelgrass have been lost globally over the last 30 years. This rate is comparable to losses reported for mangroves, coral reefs, and …

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