Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
estuary

Where is the water? Tracking water in our creeks

While pressure transducers and other automated equipment collect important data, much of our long-term dataset is collected by hand. Volunteers measure water quality each month by going out to creek or bay sites with equipment in hand. They take note of things like water temperature, dissolved oxygen content, and other measures that indicate creek health.

    Measuring the water level in local creeks gives us valuable data. We collect this data with pressure transducers. A pressure transducer is a water-level measuring device that we install by submerging it in the creek. It continuously measures the pressure of the water pushing down on it and converts it into a height measurement. These instruments can collect data for months or even years. Pressure transducers can be used in a wide range of applications, from weather stations, to flood control, to tracking reservoir water levels. We use these devices in our local creek systems to estimate how much …

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September Field Updates

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  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 September. Eelgrass September kicked off our busy fall season of eelgrass monitoring. We started the monitoring of eelgrass restoration beds planted in 2012–2014 for the presence and condition of eelgrass. To conduct this monitoring, our staff heads out on paddleboards with handheld GPS units and snorkel gear to find each restoration bed in search of eelgrass. Information gathered from this monitoring …

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Exploring the History of Morro Bay

The San Salvador docks in Morro Bay. Photograph by U.S. Coastguard Station Morro Bay.

    History Alive On September 29, 2016, a replica of explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo’s ship, the San Salvador, docked in Morro Bay. Cabrillo made several voyages by sea during the 1500s. His most famous journey to find the Northwest Passage led him along the California coast. In 1542, he landed his ship, the San Salvador, in what is now San Diego Harbor and claimed the land for the King of Spain. He then continued his expedition north along the coast and past Estero Bay. Cabrillo is credited with naming Morro Rock “El Moro” after the style of hat worn …

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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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What Are Our Bugs Telling Us? Our Data is Here!

The Tricorythodes pictured here was collected from our local creeks. This small mayfly is popular with fish, but they swarm upon hatching, making conditions difficult for fly fishing.

  Our Monitoring Program and its dedicated corps of volunteers use various scientific methods to track the health of our waters. One tool in our arsenal is bioassessment monitoring, a detailed effort where we gather habitat data and collect macroinvertebrates or “macros,” bugs visible to the naked eye. Our 2016 Bioassessment Effort In April and May of this year, over 20 volunteers joined our staff in collecting habitat data and macro samples from eight sites on local creeks. Collectively, these volunteers put in over 100 hours of time to collect this data. At each site, they recorded over a thousand …

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August Field Updates

They got a calm, glassy morning for 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. Read on to see what our staff and volunteers have been up to during the month of August. Monitoring Staff Updates August was a quiet month for field work. Our monitoring staff spent time entering data and planning for upcoming eelgrass monitoring projects, but still got out into the field a few times. Our Field Technician, Evan, put on his snorkel gear and helped CalPoly professor Jenn Yost collect more eelgrass samples for genetic analysis.    We collected water …

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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: California Sea Hare

Estuary Program staff found this sea hare in an eelgrass bed near Coleman beach.

    Look deep into the eyes of this California Sea Hare (Aplysia californica), as it moves along the bottom of Morro Bay. Can’t find them? There is one eye located right beneath each rhinophore, or tentacle, at the front of the sea hare’s head. While you can look into the sea hare’s eyes (now that you’ve found them), the sea hare can’t return your gaze. Their vision is different from ours—they don’t see objects, but they can sense light and shadow. This allows them to avoid predators and to avoid coming out of the water during the daylight hours, …

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Good, Clean, Boating Fun on the Morro Bay Estuary

Harbor Patrol Supervisor Becka Kelly and supplies

    There’s still time to enjoy Morro Bay from your boat this summer. While you’re taking in the sights and sounds amongst the gentle waves of the estuary or Estero Bay beyond, you can help protect our waters. Here’s how. 1. Make sure what goes in the head stays in the holding tank: Check your Y-valve for leaks You’d rather focus on the wind and the waves, but sometimes nature calls.  When you flush the head on your boat, untreated sewage moves into your holding tank. Your Y-valve is the only thing standing between that sewage and the bay waters that …

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Textures of Morro Bay Photo Contest 2016 Winners

Bee Boxes in the Rows by Katrina Kramer

  Our Textures of Morro Bay Photo Contest asked photographers to capture the unique and varied textures of the estuary and watershed. We were pleased to receive submissions from locals and visitors, from casual and serious photographers, and from camera-phone devotees and those who only use SLRs. The images themselves were stunning. They included more textures than we had imagined, along with a variety of Morro Bay’s moods in different locations around the bay and the surrounding watershed. The judges deliberated over anonymous submissions, weighing each photograph’s use of the theme, each photograph’s composition, and the artistic impact of the photograph …

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July Field Updates

group shot 2 - Tenney Rizzo

  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 July.   Eelgrass Surveys We had an exciting month of eelgrass surveys in July. Our monitoring staff helped CalPoly Professor Jenn Yost collect eelgrass samples for genetic analysis. Thanks to Tenney Rizzo from Cal Poly for some great group shots!   Fish seining at Windy Cove We also got to help CalPoly graduate student Erin Aiello seine for fish at Windy …

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