Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
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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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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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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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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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iNaturalist: Bringing Technology and Nature Together in Morro Bay

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    In Morro Bay, the natural world surrounds us, no matter where we are. It’s right outside our windows. It lines the paths we walk, bike, and hike. It reminds us just how much life depends on its waters. Nature is why so many of us choose to visit and live in Morro Bay. If you’re the kind of person who loves to be surrounded by nature and who is also interested in science and technology, you might like iNaturalist. It’s a smart phone and tablet app that allows people to upload pictures of the plants and animals they see. …

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