Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
estuary

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 …

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

Be a Citizen Scientist

    If you are curious about the natural world, scientists need your help! Citizen science projects harness the power of interested people to gather data for use in important research. Many of these projects ask people to observe and document the plants, animals, or natural phenomena around them with a camera or smart phone, whenever they wish. Others require more specific training, or ask for in-person participation. 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 …

Continue Reading

Appreciating Wetlands Worldwide and at Home

Estuary, fen, mire, morass, quagmire, slough—a person could get bogged down in all the words for wetlands! These fertile places where land and water meet are as rich in language as they are in life. Wetlands are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world; according to the USEPA, they’re comparable even to rainforests and coral reefs. Wetlands produce a bounty of plants, microbes, invertebrates, and other small lifeforms, which in turn attract larger wildlife. They provide essential habitat for waterfowl and wading birds, many of which breed, nest, and raise their young in wetlands.   Wetlands also help …

Continue Reading

El Niño, Rain, and the Estuary

An increase in water flowing through local creeks helps fish and other aquatic species. This picture was taken at Pennington Creek in 2011.

  Everyone is talking about El Niño: the rain, the wind, the warmer ocean temperatures, and whether or not it will impact the drought. At the Estuary Program, we are keeping our eyes on this weather phenomenon because it directly affects our local waterways. In this post, we’ll discuss what extra precipitation might mean for the Morro Bay watershed and estuary. How much rain can we expect? According to an article by local meteorologist John Lindsey, the historical average rainfall for our area is about 23.5 inches during the rainy season, but previous strong El Niño events have brought almost …

Continue Reading