Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
estuary program

Community Grants Benefit Morro Bay

Two SeaLife Stewards volunteers, ready to go out on the water safely.

  The Estuary Program does a lot of boots-on-the-ground conservation, restoration, research, and monitoring work. Our staff members visit classrooms to help students learn how to be good stewards of the bay, and we reach out to locals and visitors alike through our Estuary Nature Center. No matter what we accomplish, we know that there is always more work to be done. We are lucky that so many other local organizations and individuals have great ideas for projects to benefit the bay, its wildlife, and the people who know and love this special place. Because of this, we fund a …

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Sea Star Wasting Syndrome Monitoring in Morro Bay

Infected sea star; photograph taken on day one, June 27, 2014 on Guemes Island, Washington. Credit: Kit Harma, Evergreen Shore monitor.

  A mysterious disease called Sea Star Wasting Syndrome (SSWS) has been causing mass mortality of sea stars along much of the Pacific Coast from Baja California to the Gulf of Alaska. Twenty-two species of sea stars have been affected by it, making this a die-off event of the greatest magnitude, spread over the greatest geographic area to date. Melissa Douglas, Associate Research Specialist at University of California, Santa Cruz, is an expert on the syndrome. She is concerned about the spread of the disease. As she says, “Past SSWS outbreaks were restricted to Southern CA and Baja Mexico. Now …

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Eelgrass Restoration in Morro Bay Spring 2017

Eelgrass isopod (Idotea resecata).

    Greetings, readers! This is Catie, the Morro Bay National Estuary Program’s Communications and Outreach Intern. I had the privilege of participating in the Estuary Program’s most recent small-scale experimental eelgrass restoration effort. We want to fill you in on the process here. Eelgrass (Zostera marina) plays a number of important roles in the function and health of the Morro Bay ecosystem.   Its long blades form an underwater forest, which provides a diverse crowd of creatures a place to rest, find food, and spawn. These are some of the creatures that we found during the replanting effort: The …

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State of the Bay 2017: Eelgrass, Sedimentation, and Climate Change

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  Our State of the Bay 2017 report contains data that the Estuary Program and our partners have collected over the years. We release this report every three years to answer common questions about the health of Morro Bay and its watershed. Last week’s blog post discussed the condition of water quality in the bay and creeks. This week, we address eelgrass, sedimentation, and climate change. Eelgrass: Tracking Current Conditions Eelgrass is a blooming underwater grass that puts down roots in sandy soils. Its long blades form an underwater forest, offering wildlife a place to rest, find food, and spawn. …

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Countdown to State of the Bay 2017

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Every three years, the Estuary Program releases a State of the Bay report. This science-based assessment of the health of Morro Bay estuary and watershed presents data collected over the years. Through interesting articles, graphs, and illustrations, this publication shares what the data means for water quality, sedimentation, bird populations, eelgrass beds, and many other important aspects of a healthy bay. We are happy to announce that the 2017 State of the Bay report is here. Read it online, or pick up a copy in our Estuary Nature Center or office. One of the best parts of our State 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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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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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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