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

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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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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Poison Oak: Nature’s Immune Response

    Guest post by Anders Johnson, Communications & Outreach Intern for Clean Boating. Anders grew up in Morro Bay and is an avid surfer and kayak fisherman. After receiving his B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Ecology, he traveled abroad and worked on small farms. He has since returned to Morro Bay and is working on his M.S. in Resilient and Sustainable Communities. At the Estuary Program, Anders talks with boaters in the bay about the resources available to them to help keep our waters clean.   A quick hike beyond the concrete in Morro Bay will reveal …

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Field Updates July 2017

George and Estuary Program volunteer, Nick, finish planting eelgrass shoots within a one-meter squared plot.

    Estuary Program staff and volunteers were hard at work in the field this past month. Fieldwork in July focused on preparing for a second round of eelgrass restoration. As you may recall, we collaborated with CalPoly on a similar effort in March, 2017. This effort was conducted earlier in the year than in past efforts in hopes that the eelgrass would become established before large macroalgae blooms, which typically occur during the summer here in Morro Bay. After four months, we were seeing growth and expansion of eelgrass at our forebay plot (or, eelgrass had expanded outside of …

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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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