Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.

Field Updates December 2018: Eelgrass, Wildlife Sightings, Creeks, and Rainfall Totals

Field Updates December 2018: Eelgrass, Wildlife Sightings, Creeks, and Rainfall Totals

Watershed Stewards Program members Melia and Doug work on counting the number of eelgrass shoots within a 0.5m by 0.5m area.

Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and wildlife requires a lot of hard work in the field. At the Estuary Program, that often entails doing research, restoration, and monitoring work out on the estuary and along the creeks that feed into it. Read on to see what we’ve been up to during the past month. 

Eelgrass monitoring

Each fall, we monitor eelgrass on our permanent transects. These transects are sample areas across the bay where eelgrass has grown historically. We chose the specific locations of the transects to represent different zones in the bay and capture the differences between these zones. They range from Coleman Beach, near the mouth of the bay, south to Pasadena Point, near the back of the bay.

This December, we got out to 5 out of 6 of them (it was too windy on the winter solstice for us to make it all the way back to Pasadena Point!).

If you have been out kayaking or paddleboarding on the bay recently, you might have seen some new patches of eelgrass appearing.

Eelgrass transect monitoring. These patches are near the transect at State Park Marina.  Most of these patches are around one-meter byone-meter in size, and were not here when we surveyed this area last year.

These patches are near the transect at State Park Marina. Most of these patches are around one-meter by one-meter in size, and were not here when we surveyed this area last year.

The eelgrass shoot density of the transect at Coleman Beach is about the same as it has been the past three years. Eelgrass in the forebay has remained fairly stable throughout the decline, but we did see lower densities here in some years.

Eelgrass transect monitoring. Watershed Stewards Program members Melia and Doug work on counting the number of eelgrass shoots within a 0.5m by 0.5m area.

Watershed Stewards Program members Melia and Doug work on counting the number of eelgrass shoots within a one-half-meter by one-half-meter area.

We will report more once we complete all of the surveys. To see results from past years and, look at the 2017 Eelgrass Report.

Wildlife sightings on the bay

Here is a list of species we spotted in December while out in the bay.

Here are some photos of animals we saw while monitoring eelgrass transects. Based on the photo in the top right, we are wondering if the yellow egg mass is that of the bivalve California lyonsia.

Here are some photos of animals we saw. Based on the photo in the bottom left, we are wondering if the yellow egg mass we observed is that of the bivalve California lyonsia.

Creek Monitoring

We worked on getting our sediment sampler ready for the upcoming winter. This involved doing a test deployment during one of the early December rain events. This year, we will be focusing our sediment monitoring efforts to our station on Chorro Creek at Canet Road.

We will not be deploying our samplers for the rain coming our way this weekend, but we will be watching the rainfall totals and seeing how the creeks respond. Check out this blog post to see some of the resources we use to track the weather here on the central coast.

Rainfall totals

The San Luis Obispo County gauge on Canet Road recorded 1.22” of rain for the month of December, bringing the total up to 3.77” for the current water year.

Upcoming Event: Art Show

  • Flowing Estuary to Living Sea paintings by SLOPE
  • February 1 through March 31, 2019 at the Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History
  • Opening reception on Saturday, February 2, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

Come see paintings of our beautiful coastline from Ragged Point to Oso Flaco by the talented and environmentally-conscious artists of SLOPE. A number of paintings will focus on Morro Bay and the surrounding watershed.

A portion of the proceeds for this show will benefit the Central Coast State Parks Association and the Morro Bay National Estuary Program. We hope to see you there!


Help protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary

Thank you for your support!