Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
estuary

Help Put Morro Bay on the Bioblitz map: Snapshot Cal Coast 2018

Paula and Tom enter observations into iNaturalist during the Snapshot Cal Coast 2018 effort.

What is Snapshot Cal Coast bioblitz? During a bioblitz, citizen scientists document all living things in a certain area, during a specific period of time. Estuary Program staff and volunteers participate in an annual bioblitz called Snapshot Cal Coast, which is hosted by the California Academy of Sciences. This large-scale effort aims to document plants and animals all along the California coast, during a particular week in June. Participants are asked to complete their bioblitzes in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and to focus on intertidal zones (those areas that may be submerged during high tide and exposed during low tides). Help …

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Sea Star Wasting Disease Monitoring Update

    Last year, we wrote a post about the Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, a disease that was causing mass mortality of sea stars along the Pacific Coast from Baja California to the Gulf of Alaska. The syndrome is a general description of symptoms found in affected sea stars. Typically, lesions appear on the surface of the stars followed by decay surrounding the lesions, leading to fragmentation of the sea star’s body and eventual death. According to biological oceanographer and microbial ecologist Ian Hewson from Cornell University, this disease is by far the largest marine disease event ever seen. Hewson’s …

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Photograph Friday: Predators and Prey Around Morro Bay

A coyote stands, alert, in a field at El Chorro Regional Park.

    The Morro Bay estuary and watershed are home to many species of plants and animals. The ability of this small geographic area to support such biodiversity is part of what makes it special. The animals around Morro Bay form complex food webs in which some species are both predator and prey. The following images give a glimpse into these relationships.         If you have taken photographs that illustrate predator and prey relationships in or around the Morro Bay estuary, we’d love to see them! Post them to our Facebook page, tag us on Instagram, or email …

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Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest Winners 2018 Announced

Beach evening primrose

  We look forward to April every year. The wildflowers are blooming, the bay view is ever-changing between thick fog, sunshine, and wave-whipping wind. April is also when we recognize Earth Day and celebrate National Poetry Month. At the Estuary Program, we like to bring all of these spring happenings together with a poetry contest that asks people to capture the essence of the Morro Bay estuary in haiku and free verse poems. The poems are judged anonymously and receive points for form, creativity, imagery, and adherence to theme. This year, the 5th anniversary of the contest, a record 101 poets from …

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From Seas to Trees, Plastic Pollution Takes a Toll

  When you look at this picture, what do you see?  You might note Morro Rock, the waves washing along the shore, bits of brown kelp, green algae, a shell, and other organic beach debris. How about this picture? At first glance, this second picture might look just like the first, but it isn’t quite. That green blob that looks like it might be algae is actually a tennis ball buried in the sand. And, some of that stringy organic-looking beach debris is actually fishing line, tossed and tangled with strands of plant debris. It is easy to look at …

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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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Citizen Scientists Make a Difference for Morro Bay

We used the Trash Tracker for the first time at our inaugural Pickup and Paddle event in 2017. We're excited to continue using it this year!

  While not everyone can be a marine biologist, a meteorologist, or a conservation ecologist, almost anyone can help contribute to the wealth of knowledge that these experts draw from in their work. Our own Monitoring program uses data gathered by citizen scientist volunteers and staff members to keep an eye on long-term trends in water quality, bacteria levels, and other factors that influence stream and bay health. In honor of National Citizen Science Day tomorrow, we’re sharing a few ways that you can help move science forward at home and beyond. Marine debris projects Clean Swell This simple app created …

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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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Photograph Friday: Spring Rain in Morro Bay

At the Estuary Program office, we are always excited to see the rain come down. When enough rain falls, creeks flow at adequate levels, giving fish and other aquatic wildlife a better chance to survive and thrive. On the other hand, rain can wash trash, sediment, and other substances into storm drains, creeks, and out into the bay. It’s important to make sure that we dispose of trash, pet waste, debris, and chemicals properly. so that they can’t catch a ride into our waterways. Today, we are sharing some of our favorite pictures of the most recent storm. If you …

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Native Plant Series #1: Pioneer Sand Dunes and Foredunes

This is our first exploration of a specific plant community found within the Morro Bay watershed. Today, we will learn about the pioneer dunes and foredunes communities located on the Morro Bay Sandspit. This area is probably the harshest environment for plants found in the Morro Bay watershed. Because of its direct exposure to the Pacific Ocean, the Sandspit is a very windy place: the constant salty, sandy wind coming off the ocean keeps plants at a low, small stature. Since sand does not hold water very well, these plants experience moisture conditions similar to a desert. Because of these …

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