Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
estuary

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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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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November Field Updates, 2016

Karissa with fins

Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and wildlife 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 November.   Eelgrass Monitoring November was a busy month of eelgrass fieldwork for the monitoring staff. We continued monitoring the eelgrass restoration bed near Coleman beach and also took advantage of the great negative tides to conduct bed condition monitoring. These negative tides are great for fieldwork because of how much of the intertidal zone (the area that is exposed at a …

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Giving Thanks at the Morro Bay National Estuary Program

    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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Bay-Friendly Halloween 2016

  Halloween is a lot of fun; it means candy, costumes, and light-hearted mischief for everyone. But—between candy wrappers, disposable decorations, and party supplies—it can also create waste. You can make it a bay-friendly day by following the tips below. Have your candy, and keep the bay clean, too. Food wrappers and containers are consistently one of the most common forms of trash picked up during International Coastal Cleanup Day. (This year, according to the Ocean Conservancy, volunteers snagged 888,589 food wrappers alone.) If light-weight candy wrappers escape from eager trick-or-treaters’ hands, they can easily land on the street, make their way …

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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

  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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