Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
morro bay

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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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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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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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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Opportunities at the Morro Bay National Estuary Program’s Nature Center

  The Estuary Nature Center invites visitors to experience the beauty of the estuary and learn about protecting its sensitive habitats and wildlife. At the Nature Center, you can view aquariums of steelhead trout and eelgrass, and learn about the threats they face. You’ll see 3-D images of the estuary, learn about the watershed that supplies it with freshwater, and much more. Visitors can also enjoy the spectacular view and take advantage of the center’s binoculars to do some wildlife watching. To enhance visitors’ Nature Center experience, the Estuary Program is excited to continue our Nature Center Docent Program, which …

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Monitoring the health of local creeks with bioassessment

Volunteer surveys stream

Each spring, Estuary Program staff and volunteers gear up for Bioassessment, an important monitoring tool that allows us to assess the health of local streams to determine their value as fish habitat. We conduct monitoring at creek sites throughout the Morro Bay watershed, which involves collecting macroinvertebrate or “macro” samples (insects that are visible to the naked eye) and taking measurements of the health of creek habitat. Here’s what a day of monitoring involves. Water quality monitoring Upon arriving at the site, we use water quality meters to collect information such as pH, temperature, turbidity, flow, and oxygen levels. Fish …

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Gardening in a Morro Bay-Friendly Way

  Gardening—whether you’re filling a large yard or tending a few potted plants outside your window—is a great hobby. It allows you to get your hands dirty and to reconnect with nature. It beautifies our neighborhoods and can provide valuable habitat to native birds, butterflies, insects, and other species. However, it’s important to remember that the choices we make in our gardens have a big impact on the watershed. Some products that are used to keep plants looking lush (like pesticides and fertilizers) can be harmful to the natural environment. Some plants need a lot of water, reducing the amount of …

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