Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
morro bay

Photo Friday: Focus on Water

Water levels in the salt marsh depend on the tides. Here, California horn snails are visible in a pool left behind as the tide went out.

  This is the time of year that we start hoping to see more rain falling along the Central Coast. Rain feeds the creeks that flow into the Morro Bay estuary. Having enough fresh water in those creeks helps fish, other animals, and aquatic plants to grow and thrive. (See this article from local meteorologist John Lindsey for more information on how the drought affects Morro Bay.) Today, we’re paying a photo tribute to water as it moves from creeks, through the salt marsh, and out into the bay.   Creeks     Tidal Channels and Salt Marsh     …

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California’s Plastic Bag Ban and Morro Bay

Voters approved California Proposition 67 this week, upholding the plastic bag ban that the state senate originally passed in September of 2014. The newly approved law goes into effect right away, requiring stores across the state to charge a minimum of 10 cents for a reusable or paper bag. Here is some information about how the law may affect Morro Bay, the people who live near it, and the wildlife that depend on it. Does the law affect San Luis Obispo County’s bag ban? Because San Luis Obispo County’s bag ban went into effect before January 1, 2015, it will …

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October Field Updates, 2016

Here, Shane places the quadrat at meter 75 of our 150-meter transect.

Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of hard work in the field. Read on to see what our staff and volunteers have been up to during the month of October.   Fish trawl study We started off the month by helping Cal Poly Professor and California Sea Grant Extension Specialist Dr. Jennifer O’Leary conduct fish trawls in Morro Bay. In 2007, seven different sites around Morro Bay were trawled to catalog what species were present. Now, after the decline of eelgrass beds in the bay, the same sites are being trawled again …

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2016 Volunteers of the Year

Karen stands at Windy Cove.

    Our volunteers are very special people, with a wide range of interests and talents. They paddle out in the wee hours of the morning to measure dissolved oxygen content in the bay, take plankton samples from local piers, get muddy monitoring water quality in local creeks, provide indispensable advice through our boards and committees, welcome visitors in to our Nature Center, and much more. We are thankful for them all throughout the year, and we have the opportunity to thank them in person each fall, at our Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. This year, we gathered at the Old School House …

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Bay-Friendly Halloween 2016

  Halloween is a lot of fun; it means candy, costumes, and light-hearted mischief for everyone. But—between candy wrappers, disposable decorations, and party supplies—it can also create waste. You can make it a bay-friendly day by following the tips below. Have your candy, and keep the bay clean, too. Food wrappers and containers are consistently one of the most common forms of trash picked up during International Coastal Cleanup Day. (This year, according to the Ocean Conservancy, volunteers snagged 888,589 food wrappers alone.) If light-weight candy wrappers escape from eager trick-or-treaters’ hands, they can easily land on the street, make their way …

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September Field Updates

  Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of hard work in the field. Read on to see what our staff and volunteers have been up to during the month of September. Eelgrass September kicked off our busy fall season of eelgrass monitoring. We started the monitoring of eelgrass restoration beds planted in 2012–2014 for the presence and condition of eelgrass. To conduct this monitoring, our staff heads out on paddleboards with handheld GPS units and snorkel gear to find each restoration bed in search of eelgrass. Information gathered from this monitoring …

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Exploring the History of Morro Bay

    History Alive On September 29, 2016, a replica of explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo’s ship, the San Salvador, docked in Morro Bay. Cabrillo made several voyages by sea during the 1500s. His most famous journey to find the Northwest Passage led him along the California coast. In 1542, he landed his ship, the San Salvador, in what is now San Diego Harbor and claimed the land for the King of Spain. He then continued his expedition north along the coast and past Estero Bay. Cabrillo is credited with naming Morro Rock “El Moro” after the style of hat worn …

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Coastal Cleanup Day on the Morro Bay Sandspit

The whole crew celebrates their work and Coastal Cleanup Day.

  A wonderful group of volunteers came together to clean up the Morro Bay sandspit for International Coastal Cleanup Day. We gathered early on the Embarcadero to hear about the snowy plovers that depend on the sandspit dunes habitat to safely nest and hatch their chicks. We learned to stay outside of the yellow fencing on the sandspit in order to protect them.   Then, we hitched a ride with Thomas, Captain of the Lost Isle Tiki Boat, through the fog and out to the sandspit. (Thank you, Thomas!) We put on gloves, grabbed our recycling and trash bags, pocketed our pencils, and held tight …

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What Are Our Bugs Telling Us? Our Data is Here!

The Tricorythodes pictured here was collected from our local creeks. This small mayfly is popular with fish, but they swarm upon hatching, making conditions difficult for fly fishing.

  Our Monitoring Program and its dedicated corps of volunteers use various scientific methods to track the health of our waters. One tool in our arsenal is bioassessment monitoring, a detailed effort where we gather habitat data and collect macroinvertebrates or “macros,” bugs visible to the naked eye. Our 2016 Bioassessment Effort In April and May of this year, over 20 volunteers joined our staff in collecting habitat data and macro samples from eight sites on local creeks. Collectively, these volunteers put in over 100 hours of time to collect this data. At each site, they recorded over a thousand …

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August Field Updates

They got a calm, glassy morning for monitoring. 

Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of hard work in the field. Read on to see what our staff and volunteers have been up to during the month of August. Monitoring Staff Updates August was a quiet month for field work. Our monitoring staff spent time entering data and planning for upcoming eelgrass monitoring projects, but still got out into the field a few times. Our Field Technician, Evan, put on his snorkel gear and helped CalPoly professor Jenn Yost collect more eelgrass samples for genetic analysis.    We collected water …

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