Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
morro bay

Be a Citizen Scientist

    If you are curious about the natural world, scientists need your help! Citizen science projects harness the power of interested people to gather data for use in important research. Many of these projects ask people to observe and document the plants, animals, or natural phenomena around them with a camera or smart phone, whenever they wish. Others require more specific training, or ask for in-person participation. Our own Monitoring program uses data gathered by citizen scientist volunteers and staff members to keep an eye on long-term trends in water quality, bacteria levels, and other factors that influence stream …

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An Update on Microbeads and Ocean Pollution

  In October 2015, we showed you how plastic microbeads cause problems for the world’s oceans. When we use face wash, toothpaste, and other products that contain microbeads, the tiny plastic particles flow down the drain and can end up in our waterways. Eventually, some of these beads add to the plastic pollution in the five gyres, including the Pacific Garbage Patch. Today, we are revisiting microbeads because a new study published in Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences showed that polystyrene microplastics affect oyster reproduction in a negative way. Oysters, which are filter feeders, can mistake microplastic particles for phytoplankton, consuming the …

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What Estuary Program stories compel you?

  The Estuary Program blog turns one at the end of January! In this first year, we’ve been happy to bring you an in-depth look at our projects, program updates, information about bay-friendly living, stories about people who are making a difference, and ideas for fun activities that you can do around the estuary. If you missed any of our posts, you can catch up by scrolling down our main blog page. If you’re looking for the highlights, here are links to our top five posts of 2015:   1. Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest Winners 2015 Each year, we ask poets …

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El Niño, Rain, and the Estuary

An increase in water flowing through local creeks helps fish and other aquatic species. This picture was taken at Pennington Creek in 2011.

  Everyone is talking about El Niño: the rain, the wind, the warmer ocean temperatures, and whether or not it will impact the drought. At the Estuary Program, we are keeping our eyes on this weather phenomenon because it directly affects our local waterways. In this post, we’ll discuss what extra precipitation might mean for the Morro Bay watershed and estuary. How much rain can we expect? According to an article by local meteorologist John Lindsey, the historical average rainfall for our area is about 23.5 inches during the rainy season, but previous strong El Niño events have brought almost …

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Great Family-Friendly Hikes Around the Estuary

The boardwalk path through the elfin forest winds through eight different habitat types, and offers beautiful views of the estuary.

  It can be hard to find family-friendly hikes, but we’re lucky to have quite a few to choose from around Morro Bay. Here are a few that allow you to enjoy views of the estuary with your holiday guests! Marina Peninsula Trail This accessible boardwalk trail is only .5 miles long, and it begins close to the parking lot at the Morro Bay State Park Marina. It winds through a variety of habitats, and offers views of the Morros, the salt marsh, the mud flats, the sandspit, the estuary, and Morro Rock. Your view will be different depending on …

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What we’re thankful for

  Today and every day, we are thankful for you, our supporters. The Estuary Program was established through a grass roots movement, fueled and funded by passionate people in the local community. Your interest in the estuary, and your desire to protect and restore it, is a big part of what keeps us going. Thank you! Hear about the Estuary Program’s roots from founder Bill Newman. We are also thankful for the estuary itself. As the best-preserved estuary in central and southern California, it’s something to be proud of. It acts as a nursery for many plants and animals, sustains …

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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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Give a Day for the Bay with Eco Rotary

Doreen rakes the path along the water’s edge. Photograph courtesy of Ruth Ann Angus.

  On Saturday, we headed down to Bayshore Bluffs Park to Give a Day for the Bay with our local Eco Rotary. Club members were ready to receive cleanup volunteers with a smile, a delicious spread of brunch items, and a storage shed full of tools for cleaning up the park. How could you resist? Volunteers were happy to get to work. They consulted with Eco Rotary Club members, gathered the tools they needed and were on their way. This Saturday, a dozen volunteers put in about 25 collective hours cleaning up the park, or as Eco Rotary Club President …

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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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