Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
morro bay

Sea Star Wasting Disease Monitoring Update

    Last year, we wrote a post about the Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, a disease that was causing mass mortality of sea stars along the Pacific Coast from Baja California to the Gulf of Alaska. The syndrome is a general description of symptoms found in affected sea stars. Typically, lesions appear on the surface of the stars followed by decay surrounding the lesions, leading to fragmentation of the sea star’s body and eventual death. According to biological oceanographer and microbial ecologist Ian Hewson from Cornell University, this disease is by far the largest marine disease event ever seen. Hewson’s …

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Field Updates April and May 2018: Bioassessment Monitoring and New Team Members

Monitoring team works in the middle of the creek.

    Bioassessment Monitoring Each spring, the Estuary Program conducts bioassessment monitoring throughout the Morro Bay Watershed. Bioassessment monitoring is an important tool that allows us to assess the health of local streams to determine their value as fish habitat. This monitoring involves collecting macroinvertebrates, insects visible to the naked eye, and taking measurements of things like water depth and canopy cover that tell us about the health of the creek. Check out this blog post to learn more about what bioassessment monitoring tells us about the health of our local creeks. Our bioassessment season kicked off on Saturday, April …

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Photograph Friday: Predators and Prey Around Morro Bay

A coyote stands, alert, in a field at El Chorro Regional Park.

    The Morro Bay estuary and watershed are home to many species of plants and animals. The ability of this small geographic area to support such biodiversity is part of what makes it special. The animals around Morro Bay form complex food webs in which some species are both predator and prey. The following images give a glimpse into these relationships.         If you have taken photographs that illustrate predator and prey relationships in or around the Morro Bay estuary, we’d love to see them! Post them to our Facebook page, tag us on Instagram, or email …

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Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest Winners 2018 Announced

Beach evening primrose

  We look forward to April every year. The wildflowers are blooming, the bay view is ever-changing between thick fog, sunshine, and wave-whipping wind. April is also when we recognize Earth Day and celebrate National Poetry Month. At the Estuary Program, we like to bring all of these spring happenings together with a poetry contest that asks people to capture the essence of the Morro Bay estuary in haiku and free verse poems. The poems are judged anonymously and receive points for form, creativity, imagery, and adherence to theme. This year, the 5th anniversary of the contest, a record 101 poets from …

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From Seas to Trees, Plastic Pollution Takes a Toll

  When you look at this picture, what do you see?  You might note Morro Rock, the waves washing along the shore, bits of brown kelp, green algae, a shell, and other organic beach debris. How about this picture? At first glance, this second picture might look just like the first, but it isn’t quite. That green blob that looks like it might be algae is actually a tennis ball buried in the sand. And, some of that stringy organic-looking beach debris is actually fishing line, tossed and tangled with strands of plant debris. It is easy to look at …

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Citizen Scientists Make a Difference for Morro Bay

We used the Trash Tracker for the first time at our inaugural Pickup and Paddle event in 2017. We're excited to continue using it this year!

  While not everyone can be a marine biologist, a meteorologist, or a conservation ecologist, almost anyone can help contribute to the wealth of knowledge that these experts draw from in their work. 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 and bay health. In honor of National Citizen Science Day tomorrow, we’re sharing a few ways that you can help move science forward at home and beyond. Marine debris projects Clean Swell This simple app created …

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Field Updates March 2018: Eelgrass Transplanting and Sediment Sampling

No, that’s not a grass skirt. That is 25 eelgrass rhizomes tied onto rebar, ready to be planted.

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 March of 2018.  Eelgrass In the last few months, you might have seen our staff and volunteers in waders at Coleman Beach or trudging through the mud in the back bay during the last few months. They have been busy …

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Photograph Friday: Spring Rain in Morro Bay

At the Estuary Program office, we are always excited to see the rain come down. When enough rain falls, creeks flow at adequate levels, giving fish and other aquatic wildlife a better chance to survive and thrive. On the other hand, rain can wash trash, sediment, and other substances into storm drains, creeks, and out into the bay. It’s important to make sure that we dispose of trash, pet waste, debris, and chemicals properly. so that they can’t catch a ride into our waterways. Today, we are sharing some of our favorite pictures of the most recent storm. If you …

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Finding A New Perspective: Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest 2018

This is the first picture the Morro Bay Cam captured.

  You’ve likely stood near Coleman beach and watched the waves roll in through the mouth of Morro Bay’s harbor, or visited Sweet Springs and looked out over the back bay to see the mud flats at low tide. But, have you ever stood perfectly still—as still as a great egret stalking its prey or a live oak on the edge the boardwalk at the Elfin Forest—to watch the tide roll all the way in and all the way out? It’s a phenomenon that happens twice each day along Morro Bay’s shores, but we don’t have time to observe it …

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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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