Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
estuary

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 …

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How could climate change affect Morro Bay?

100-year flood map

  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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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Symbolic Fencing Helps Morro Bay’s Snowy Plovers

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  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 …

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Be a Citizen Scientist

This years King Tides combined with the higher sea levels experienced during El Nino covered the stairs at Tidelands park.

    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 …

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Appreciating Wetlands Worldwide and at Home

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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 …

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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 …

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Looking Back Over 2015

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  2015 was a big year for the Morro Bay National Estuary Program. In the following post, Adrienne Harris, current Executive Director, and Joel Neel, Bay Foundation Board President, look back over the year.    A Message from the President and Executive Director In our community, we have a long history of working to protect Morro Bay, our estuary. This effort has taken many forms over the decades, but all with the same goal, to protect the special nature of this place. Morro Bay was designated as a State Estuary in 1994, and the Morro Bay National Estuary Program was …

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Great Family-Friendly Hikes Around the Estuary

The boardwalk path through the elfin forest winds through eight different habitat types, and offers beautiful views of the estuary.

  It can be hard to find family-friendly hikes, but we’re lucky to have quite a few to choose from around Morro Bay. Here are a few that allow you to enjoy views of the estuary with your holiday guests! Marina Peninsula Trail This accessible boardwalk trail is only .5 miles long, and it begins close to the parking lot at the Morro Bay State Park Marina. It winds through a variety of habitats, and offers views of the Morros, the salt marsh, the mud flats, the sandspit, the estuary, and Morro Rock. Your view will be different depending on …

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