Oct 04, 2019

Field Updates September, 2019: Stream Profiling and Bay Monitoring


Fall is in full effect here on the Central Coast, and we are enjoying the crisp mornings and clear days that go along with it. Fall is typically the slowest time of year for fieldwork so we are mostly catching up on activities back here at the office and planning upcoming projects, but that’s not to say we haven’t been out in the field this month.

Thank you, cleanup volunteers!

We hope some of you got out this month for Creeks to Coast Cleanup Day, where nearly 2,000 wonderful volunteers picked up about 11,500 pounds of trash from our creeks, parks, open spaces, and coastlines on International Coastal Cleanup Day. Check out our last blog post for photos and information about the 2019 effort.

Here at the Morro Bay Estuary Program, we were leading the cleanup effort along the Embarcadero as well as across the bay on the sandspit. We found many different items including:  cigarette butts, plastic and glass bottles, and construction debris. It was a lot of fun connecting with members of the community who all share the same concerns about trash in our environment.

sandspit cleanup
Volunteers for this year’s Creeks to Coast cleanup helped out on the Morro Bay sandspit.

Don’t worry if you missed this day though, we think every day is a good day for a cleanup, and encourage all of you to get out when you can and pick up a few pieces of trash! A little bit goes a long way.

Stream profiling

Besides that, we were busy continuing our stream profiling project to look at how streams in the watershed are changing over time. Are they getting deeper? Shallower? Are the banks changing shape? All important questions for us to figure out. This information is helpful to determine what the causes of erosion or deposition can be, along with further understanding our local watershed characteristics.

Trying to find the exact location that has been set up previously in years past has led us to hiking through all sorts of creek foliage from grass fields to thick blackberry and poison oak thickets looking for the markers. It might be surprising to hear, but we actually really enjoy this type of work!

Excuse the brushy photos. This is what a cross section survey looks like. It takes two people to conduct. One person looks through our auto level at the other person who is holding a giant ruler called a stadia rod. This allows us to get an elevation of the creek channel. On this particular survey, we could barely see each other through the thicket of poison oak. Luckily, no one got poison oak that survey!

Bay monitoring

September is often one of the best months for paddleboarding and kayaking on the bay. The winds die down and the persistent summer fog burns off, which typically results in fantastic water visibility and glassy paddles. Field staff got out a few times to measure water conditions in the bay and check on eelgrass.

We hope you enjoyed reading about some of our month’s field activities; check back in next month for some more updates!

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