Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
MBNEP

2017 Accomplishments: Community Projects Funded

Western snowy plover. Photograph by Pacific Southwest Region Fish and Wildlife Service, via Flickr.

    Our 2017 Accomplishments blog series highlights some of the Estuary Program’s work during the past calendar year. Community Projects for 2017 Twice per year, the Estuary Program reviews proposals for community projects that benefit the Morro Bay estuary and watershed. Each successful application must address at least one of the goals of our management plan. Past community projects have addressed a wide range of issues, including bay-friendly and fire-safe gardening, rainwater harvesting, and estuarine-science education. All incoming applications must first pass a staff review before moving on to our advisory work groups, committees, and the Bay Foundation Board …

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Field Updates December 2017

We also spotted this crab in the eelgrass.

  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 December. We’re looking forward to another productive year of field work in 2018! Permanent Transects In 2005, with help from the Battelle Marine Sciences staff, we established four permanent transects for annual eelgrass monitoring in Morro Bay. These transects were chosen to represent different zones of the bay and capture differences between these zones. We added an additional …

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What are those snails in Morro Bay? Investigating the bubble snail boom

These are snail larvae in a sample taken from Morro Bay, illuminated in a microscope.

  Guest post by Jennifer Ruesink, a scientist and Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle. Jennifer Ruesink has been a faculty member at the University of Washington, Seattle, since 1999. Her expertise is in the ecology of estuarine ecosystems, especially structure-forming species such as seagrass and oysters. For her sabbatical in 2017-2018, she is visiting as many estuaries as possible along the Northeast Pacific coast, starting in Washington, as far south as Baja California, and finally around to Alaska before coming back down the coast. All these estuaries contain the same species of eelgrass, and many have commercial oyster …

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Field Updates November 2017

Our Field Technician, Kelley, and two CalPoly student volunteers work on measuring blade length and taking photos.

    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 November. For some people, the big November negative tides provide a great opportunity for going tide pooling or to surf a low tide break. For the Estuary Program, these low tides are the start of our busy fall and winter eelgrass monitoring season. Eelgrass Bed Condition Monitoring This is our third year of conducting an eelgrass survey …

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King Tides and Morro Bay: A Glimpse into the Future

King Tides high and low comparison at the Tidelands staircase in Morro Bay.

    Have you ever wondered what sea level rise might look like in the future? The naturally occurring King Tides, the highest tides of the year, could provide some insight into that question. They occur annually during the winter when the earth, moon, and sun are all aligned and the earth is closest to the sun. (The astronomical term that describes when the earth is closest to the sun is the “perihelion.”) King Tides push coastal boundaries by engulfing the bottoms of stairwells and raising the water level up to the very tops of piers. King Tides in Morro …

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Photo Friday: Changing Light Around Morro Bay

Sweet Springs, looking out at Morro Rock during the day.

  We’re well into autumn, and the days are growing shorter. In Morro Bay, the sun will set at 6:30 p.m. this evening, a full 52 minutes earlier than it did at this year’s summer solstice. While many of us will miss those long summer and early-autumn days, there are many things to look forward to as the days grow shorter. One of them is the way the light changes around our bay. The golden gloaming comes sooner, and the colorful sunsets, too. Below, you will find three pairs of photographs taken at different locations in the bay. For each …

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Celebrating the Complexity of the Morro Bay Estuary

The back bay is totally inundated at this high king tide.

  National Estuaries Week runs through September 23 and celebrates the benefit we reap from our thriving coastal ecosystems. This has us thinking about how complex and special estuary ecosystems and the wildlife that thrives here are. Estuaries are places of transition. The salty tides wash in and out over the mud flats, inundating the marsh and mixing with the freshwater influx from upland streams. The plants and animals that live in the estuary and the habitats that border its edges have special adaptations to survive these changes. The time-lapse video above shows a complete twelve-hour tidal cycle in Morro Bay. (Video …

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Coastal Cleanup Day 2017

Here is a picture of the whole wonderful cleanup crew for 2017.

  Today was the 31st Coastal Cleanup Day. This international event is the largest annual volunteer event in California, and the Estuary Program is always happy to work with volunteers to pick up trash on the Morro Bay sandspit. This morning’s group of volunteers gathered early at Morro Bay Landing to hear from Sylvia, a California State Parks representative, about how snowy plovers use the sandspit and what we can do to help protect them. These small shorebirds are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and as a bird of special concern for the State of California. Morro Bay’s sandspit …

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Photograph Friday: Fieldwork Before Sunrise

The crew of staff and volunteers harvested eelgrass in their assigned locations as the sun rose over Morro Bay. The crew of staff and volunteers harvested eelgrass in their assigned locations as the sun rose over Morro Bay.

“Time and tide will wait for no man, saith the adage. But all men have to wait for time and tide.” —Charles Dickens, The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit   This saying about the inevitable march of time and the seasons can be traced back to the 1200s, but it felt very relevant at 5:00 this morning when Estuary Program staff and a few stout-hearted and warmly-dressed volunteers ventured out to the beach near Target Rock. There, we began the second round of the small-scale eelgrass transplant project that began back in March. Before setting the date for work to begin, staff had to monitor …

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Photo Friday: Nature Photography Day in Morro Bay

The Morro Bay watershed is a wonderful place to stop, smell, and photograph wildflowers.

    June 15 is Nature Photography Day, which encourages people to get outside and explore the natural world with their cameras in hand. The Morro Bay estuary and the lands that surround it inspire many photographers and other artists to practice their craft. In honor of Nature Photography Day and the beauty of Morro Bay, we’re sharing some of our recent photos from around the bay and watershed. Western fence lizards, also called blue bellied lizards, are very common in California. One reason to take note of them is that they have a protein in their blood that kills the bacteria that …

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