Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
morro bay national estuary program

Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: California Sea Lions in the Estuary

Sea lions took to the new dock right away.

  California sea lions are the largest and fastest marine mammal that live year-round in Morro Bay. They can weigh as much as 860 pounds and swim as fast as 25 miles per hour. They also have between 34 and 38 formidable teeth, including four long canines. They use their teeth to catch their prey, but not to chew it. They swallow their food, mostly fish and squid, whole. Morro Bay’s sea lions have their own dock Sea lions like to rest out of the water on docks or even boats. In a busy harbor like Morro Bay, this habit …

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Field Update June 2018: Eelgrass

One new location is across from State Park Marina.

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of field work. At the Estuary Program, that often means spending time doing research and monitoring on the water. Read on to see what we’ve been up to during June 2018.  In 2017, we collaborated with researchers at CalPoly on two small-scale, experimental eelgrass restoration projects. Based on what we learned from that effort, we conducted another round in February and March of 2018. In 2018, we planted eelgrass in five locations—our original location in the forebay near channel marker …

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Independence Day and July 5th Cleanups in Morro Bay

This group of smiling volunteers from Camp Rock participated in the Pick Up the Picnic Campaign last year, and made a big difference for Morro Bay. Thank you!

  July 4 is a time when locals and visitors gather along the Central Coast to celebrate with friends and family. People barbecue in back yards, picnic at parks and beaches, and set up camp near Pismo Beach or Cayucos to watch fireworks displays. What to do in Morro Bay for Independence Day Morro Bay’s Family Fun day always attracts a crowd with a skateboard race, bike parade, live music, magic show, and kids’ carnival. Many people take some time out to enjoy the water by sailboat, motorboat, kayak or paddleboard, too. You can bring your own kayak or paddleboard …

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Native Plant Series #2: Southern Coastal Scrub

    The Southern coastal scrub plant community is one of the most common plant communities found in our watershed. Not sure what a plant community is? Take a look at our introductory post to the Morro Bay Native Plant Series, an exploration of our watershed’s diverse native flora! Climatic conditions, soil type, topography, and other features determine what types of plants will grow in a particular region, and the coastal scrub plant community occurs on relatively dry soils in areas where a Mediterranean climate prevails. The Mediterranean climate exists along the Central Coast of California along with a handful …

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Field Updates February 2018: Eelgrass Transplant Videos

One of our longtime volunteers works on harvesting eelgrass blades near Target Rock. Thanks, Marc!

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of hard work in the field. At the Estuary Program, that often means spending time doing research and monitoring work out on the water. Read on to see the progress that our staff and volunteers have made in our eelgrass work during February of 2018.  Our field highlight for February was preparing for and executing our third, small-scale eelgrass restoration. We completed two in 2017—one in March and one in July. Eelgrass was harvested from the healthy bed at Coleman …

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2017 Accomplishments: Collaborating for a Healthy Pennington Creek

Pennington Creek waterfall closeup

  The cold clear waters of Pennington Creek provide a home to many species, including our iconic steelhead. Pennington Creek is also home to the California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) Escuela Ranch and the Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School. The Estuary Program works with these landowners and other partners to protect and enhance habitat in and around the creek for sensitive species like steelhead. During 2017, we collaborated to put past projects to good use and to complete groundwork for important upcoming projects. Helping the Waters Run Clear At Cal Poly’s Escuela Ranch, the university is training the next …

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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 October 2017: Eelgrass Seed Planting

Though all these seeds came from the same eelgrass bed on North Sandspit, there was lots of variation in size and color. You can see the ribs in the goat in some of the seeds.

    Protecting and restoring the bay and estuary takes a lot of boots on the ground…as well as the occasional wet suit. See what our volunteers and field staff have been working on during the past month. Eelgrass The highlight of fieldwork in October was collecting our final blades of flowering eelgrass and planting the seeds. We learned a lot about flowering patterns throughout the bay. The beds varied in the magnitude, stages, and progression of seed development. Some beds had too few shoots to collect from, while others were plentiful in comparison.   Eelgrass seeds are small and …

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Join the Morro Bay Rain Gauge Network

In the photograph above, sediment erodes from a dirt road during a rainstorm. This sediment can enter streams and end up in the bay.

    Rain is in the forecast, which makes it a perfect time to debut our Rain Gauge Network. This new webpage will display rainfall data from the area surrounding Morro Bay and beyond. Now, we need you to join the network and help us gather that data. Why track rainfall? All precipitation that falls within the Morro Bay watershed can eventually make its way into the estuary through creeks and storm drains. This video shows runoff from roofs, streets, parking lots, etc. entering Morro Bay through a storm drain near the Estuary Program office. Runoff can contain sediment, bacteria, …

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2017 Estuary Program Volunteers of the Year

Mike Lindley, Monitoring Volunteer of the Year, doing one of the thin

  Each fall, we gather together with volunteers from different areas of our program to thank them for their hard work. This year, we gathered at the Old School House in the Los Osos Community Park. We shared pizza, cookies, stories, and heaps of gratitude for the hundreds of hours and immeasurable love of the bay that our volunteers give us each year. We were very grateful to local business for donating goodies for our free Volunteer Appreciation Raffle. Donors included Ascendo Coffee, ESTERO, Growing Grounds Downtown, Kayak Horizons, and Sunshine Health Food Store. Our volunteers are a very important …

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