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

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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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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Understanding Eelgrass Decline and Evaluating Restoration Activities

Restoration Projects Manager, Jen Nix (on right) readies materials for our eelgrass seed dispersal project.

  Morro Bay’s eelgrass beds are a critical resource. They provide food and shelter to many plants and animals, including juvenile rockfish, steelhead trout, various shorebirds and waterfowl, and the southern sea otter. Eelgrass also helps to improve water quality. It increases water clarity, produces oxygen, sequesters carbon, and absorbs excess nutrients. Studies have shown that eelgrass is also capable of removing toxic contaminants from marine sediments. Unfortunately, eelgrass beds are diminishing worldwide. Nearly ¼ million acres of eelgrass have been lost globally over the last 30 years. This rate is comparable to losses reported for mangroves, coral reefs, and …

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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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Saturday Scientists at the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History

Even the docents get involved. Christine Lanier (left) and Cheryl Powers (right) look at flowers under a dissecting scope during the “Mayflowers” Saturday Scientists program, which is typically held near Mother’s Day each year. Photograph courtesy of the Morro Bay Natural History Museum.

  Have you ever seen a toe-biter or a mayfly magnified to 30 times its normal size? Have you examined the root of an onion so closely that you could observe cells dividing in its root cap? Have you gotten a bee’s view of pollen on a flower stamen? If so, odds are that you’ve been to a Saturday Scientists program at the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History. Saturday Scientists has been an institution at the museum for the past four years. These engaging two-hour-long programs draw in curious locals and visitors alike to examine specimens from the natural …

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Make a Day for the Bay Profile: Wendy Disch

  This summer and fall, the Morro Bay National Estuary Program is asking everyone who enjoys the estuary to Give a Day for the Bay to help keep it clean and healthy for all of us. We’ve worked with our partners to put together a variety of volunteer service activities for you to participate in. We also encourage you to Make a Day for the Bay by creating your own bay-friendly service activity at home. In order to inspire you, we’ve invited Wendy Disch, owner of éphé mer handmade beach apparel on the Embarcadero, to tell how she takes care …

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Preserving Today’s Morro Bay for the Future

City of Morro Bay Mayor, Jamie Irons (in blue shirt on left), poses with members of the Historical Society of Morro Bay and the Morro Bay 50th Celebration Committee at the time capsule site. A plaque commemorating the event will be installed on the large rock that sits over the capsule.

  In July of 2014, Morro Bay celebrated 50 years as an incorporated city and 150 years as a town. Residents enjoyed a full year of fun-filled events to commemorate this special anniversary. Many of these events focused on the natural beauty of Morro Bay. Participants took a New Year’s Day hike that started at Morro Rock, set out on two wheels for an eco-friendly Historical Bike Tour, planted trees at the Monarch Mixer, participated in a volunteer cleanup, and more. When the celebration came to a close last Friday, July 17, it made its own mark on history: the …

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Give a Day for the Bay

    Anyone who has visited the Morro Bay National Estuary knows that it’s a special place. It offers beautiful views, a wide range of recreational opportunities, delicious seafood, and critical habitat for diverse plant and wildlife species—many of which can’t be found anywhere else. In order to give back, we’re asking everyone who loves the estuary—locals and visitors alike, to Give a Day for the Bay. That is, to donate time to help keep Morro Bay clean and healthy for all of us. How to get involved Give a Day for the Bay is a volunteer campaign that stretches …

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Keeping it Clean – Our New Video “Clean Water, Great Life”

Morro Bay is a unique place that is dear to many of our hearts. We value it for different reasons—fun on the water, delicious seafood, our livelihood, or even its restful views. All of this is made possible by clean water. The work of the Estuary Program is to protect this special place for many generations to come. As part of this effort, the Estuary Program conducts monitoring activities throughout the bay and watershed to track long-term trends in water quality. One parameter we track regularly is the level of bacteria in the bay. Volunteers venture to eight sites each …

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Poetry Contest Winners Celebrate the Morro Bay Estuary

  We’ve always said that the Morro Bay Estuary is an inspiring place, but now we have proof. During the three-week submission period for our poetry contest, local poets wrote and entered 94 poems that focused on the estuary. That’s at least 94 moments of inspiration that were powerful enough to make someone sit down, grab a pen, and start writing. That is impressive. Poets wrote on rainy nights while walking by the water. They wrote from school-desks in 7th grade classrooms. They wrote about what the estuary had given them—a sense of safety, or a sense of adventure, or …

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