Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
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Photograph Friday: Fieldwork Before Sunrise

The crew of staff and volunteers harvested eelgrass in their assigned locations as the sun rose over Morro Bay. The crew of staff and volunteers harvested eelgrass in their assigned locations as the sun rose over Morro Bay.

“Time and tide will wait for no man, saith the adage. But all men have to wait for time and tide.” —Charles Dickens, The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit   This saying about the inevitable march of time and the seasons can be traced back to the 1200s, but it felt very relevant at 5:00 this morning when Estuary Program staff and a few stout-hearted and warmly-dressed volunteers ventured out to the beach near Target Rock. There, we began the second round of the small-scale eelgrass transplant project that began back in March. Before setting the date for work to begin, staff had to monitor …

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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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Where is the water? Tracking water in our creeks

While pressure transducers and other automated equipment collect important data, much of our long-term dataset is collected by hand. Volunteers measure water quality each month by going out to creek or bay sites with equipment in hand. They take note of things like water temperature, dissolved oxygen content, and other measures that indicate creek health.

    Measuring the water level in local creeks gives us valuable data. We collect this data with pressure transducers. A pressure transducer is a water-level measuring device that we install by submerging it in the creek. It continuously measures the pressure of the water pushing down on it and converts it into a height measurement. These instruments can collect data for months or even years. Pressure transducers can be used in a wide range of applications, from weather stations, to flood control, to tracking reservoir water levels. We use these devices in our local creek systems to estimate how much …

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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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March Field Updates

A surfboard works as the perfect desk for a day of eelgrass 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. Today, we’re bringing you our first set of monthly field updates to show you what our staff and volunteers are doing on the ground. Monitoring Updates With the help of NOAA/CCC Veterans Corps members, we reinstalled one staff plate (a long ruler that can be used to measure water depth) that was knocked out during winter storms.     We monitored for sediment during the big rain at the beginning of March.   We completed …

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Clean Water, Great Life – Bay Water Quality Update Part I

  The Morro Bay estuary is a special place that is central to many of our lives, providing a beautiful place to live, work, and visit. We play in these waters and enjoy the food they provide. These waters are also home to countless species of plants, fish, and invertebrates. This week, we’ll discuss our findings on bacteria in the bay. Morro Bay – is it safe for swimming? Each month, Estuary Program volunteers monitor bay shoreline sites at popular access points. They test the waters for indicator bacteria like Enterococcus and E. coli. If these indicator bacteria are present, …

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Estuary Program Volunteers of the Year

Charles Payton, Monitoring Volunteer of the Year, monitors water quality at a local creek.

  We have the privilege of working with many volunteers who dedicate their time, exercise their expertise, and focus their energy on helping the Estuary Program. These volunteers fill essential roles. They are members of our governing board, they provide advice through our committees and working groups, they monitor the health of the bay and watershed, they stock our Mutt Mitt dispensers, and they act as docents in our Nature Center, among other roles. Every fall, we hold a volunteer appreciation party to thank everyone for their contributions. We also recognize two volunteers who have gone over and above in …

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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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