Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
estuary

Clean Water, Great Life – Bay Water Quality Update Part II

Volunteers monitor DO levels in the early morning hours because that is typically when we find the lowest levels of the day.

  The Morro Bay estuary is a special place that is central to many of our lives, providing a beautiful place to live, work, and visit. We play in these waters and enjoy the food they provide. These waters are also home to countless species of plants, fish, and invertebrates. The monitoring efforts of the Estuary Program and its volunteers help to determine if Morro Bay provides clean waters that can support sensitive marine life, as well as activities such as swimming, boating and fishing. Last week, we looked at what the Estuary Program’s monitoring efforts can tell us about …

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Clean Water, Great Life – Bay Water Quality Update Part I

  The Morro Bay estuary is a special place that is central to many of our lives, providing a beautiful place to live, work, and visit. We play in these waters and enjoy the food they provide. These waters are also home to countless species of plants, fish, and invertebrates. This week, we’ll discuss our findings on bacteria in the bay. Morro Bay – is it safe for swimming? Each month, Estuary Program volunteers monitor bay shoreline sites at popular access points. They test the waters for indicator bacteria like Enterococcus and E. coli. If these indicator bacteria are present, …

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What we’re thankful for

  Today and every day, we are thankful for you, our supporters. The Estuary Program was established through a grass roots movement, fueled and funded by passionate people in the local community. Your interest in the estuary, and your desire to protect and restore it, is a big part of what keeps us going. Thank you! Hear about the Estuary Program’s roots from founder Bill Newman. We are also thankful for the estuary itself. As the best-preserved estuary in central and southern California, it’s something to be proud of. It acts as a nursery for many plants and animals, sustains …

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Clean Water, Great Life: Creek Water Quality Update

  The Morro Bay watershed, the area of land that drains into the estuary, is a special place. Our watershed’s creeks provide valuable habitat to aquatic life, including iconic steelhead. These fish are anadromous, meaning they are born in freshwater, such as our watershed creeks, and then venture out to the ocean. After several years in the ocean, they return to the creeks where they were born to spawn and continue the life cycle.   Here on the Central Coast, we are host to a distinct population of steelhead known as the South Central California Coast Steelhead.   The formerly …

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Have a Happy, Bay-Friendly Halloween!

  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. If you’re celebrating, don’t fret; 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 1,140,222 wrappers and containers—wow.) If light-weight candy wrappers escape from eager trick-or-treaters’ hands, they can easily land on …

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Give a Day for the Bay Success by the Numbers

We picked up 18 pounds of trash from the sandspit, which is essential habitat for many birds, including the snowy plover.

  Our Give a Day for the Bay volunteer campaign came to a close this past weekend, and we are very happy with the results! Here is a breakdown by the numbers: 6 partner organizations offered volunteer opportunities to benefit the bay. 10 cleanups happened, with 9 along the water’s edge, and 1 under the water. 192 volunteers gave a total of 572.5 hours to keeping Morro Bay clean and healthy! Thank you partners and volunteers for your hard work! Below, you’ll find pictures of Give a Day for the Bay volunteers in action. Enjoy!   Tsunami Debris Cleanup on the Sandspit at Montana de Oro …

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Microbeads and Ocean Pollution

Microbeads and other microplastics show up on beaches worldwide.

  Your toothpaste might have more in common with the Pacific garbage patch than you ever thought possible. Microbeads—tiny little particles of plastic that have a way of getting into everything—are often found in both places. They’re used in many health and beauty products, including toothpastes and face washes, because they can help scrub surfaces clean. Unfortunately, once you spit out your toothpaste, or rinse off your face, they go right down the drain, and eventually end up in our oceans. Once there, they are extremely difficult to get rid of. Microbeads, along with other small pieces of plastic, compose …

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Give a Day for the Bay with Morro Bay in Bloom

Thomas, a long-term volunteer with Morro Bay in Bloom, surveys the succulent bed at the top of Centennial Parkway’s staircase.

  Every Saturday morning at 9 a.m., Morro Bay in Bloom volunteers spring into action. They meet at different locations each week, and work together to beautify Morro Bay. When they landscape and tidy public spaces, they follow bay-friendly practices like planting drought-tolerant plants, avoiding the use of herbicides, and removing invasives. We are happy that Morro Bay in Bloom has dedicated three of their regularly scheduled cleanups this summer and fall to our Give a Day for the Bay campaign. This past weekend, the “Bloomies” (as they sometimes call themselves) met at the top of the stairway in Centennial …

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Assessing the quality of aquatic habitats with CRAM

A small waterfall with healthy Poison Oak (Toxidendron rydbergii) pictured in the foreground, growing along Chorro Creek. Poison oak is a native plant that some consider beautiful.

  The California Rapid Assessment Method, or CRAM for short, is used to determine ecosystem quality for aquatic habitats. These habitats include wetlands, rivers, estuaries, and lakes. The Morro Bay National Estuary Program has used the CRAM assessment both before and after habitat restoration projects throughout the Morro Bay watershed to monitor habitat improvements over time. This method involves evaluating stretches of streams for their vegetation, stream bed complexity, bank stability, and the health of the surrounding ecosystem. To truly determine how healthy a stretch of stream is, you have to get your feet wet! Estuary Program staff have recently …

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Fire and the Morro Bay National Estuary

A harbor seal rests in the bay, beneath a sky full of smoke. Photograph by Ruth Ann Angus, August, 1994.

  This week’s fire on the Cuesta Grade comes almost exactly 21 years after the devastating Highway 41 fire of August 1994. Ruth Ann Angus, local photographer, writer, and long-time supporter of the Estuary Program, was out kayaking on the bay with a friend when the Highway 41 blaze began. As Ruth Ann recalls, “We paddled all the way back to Sweet Springs and as we turned around there, I spotted the puff of smoke in the sky. I knew it was bad so we immediately began paddling back to the Marina area….” She took photos on the way back …

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