Jul 10, 2020




This year, we asked entrants to our Morro Bay Estuary Poetry contest to pen haiku about any aspect of the Morro Bay estuary that called to them as well as free verse poems about any issue discussed in our 2020 State of the Bay report. Writers from down the road, across the county, in the Central Valley, and even from overseas entered the contest. It was an honor to read each and every entry.

We published the winning poems by our adult contestants in April. You can read their poems here. Below, you will find the winning poems written by student entrants. The are beautiful tributes to the bay, its wildlife, and the work we can all do to protect Morro Bay and other fragile, natural places.

Each poem category includes a first and second place winner for two age groups, ages 8 through 12 and 13 through 17. Please join us in congratulating the Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest 2020 student winners and enjoy their poems!

Estuarine 17: Haiku focused on the Morro Bay estuary

Ages 8-12

Second Place: Seamus Wolf

Morro Bay Montessori

Seamus Wolf looks at the camera. he has brown hair, wears a grey shirt with green diagonal stripes at the shoulders, and stands in front of yellow flowers, green foliage, and a brown fence.
Seamus Wolf, Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest winner, 2020


The kangaroo rat

He is a jumping wonder

He is nocturnal


First Place: Eli Hague

Morro Bay Montessori

Eli Hague, poetry contest winner leaps to catch a frisbee near the ocean.
Eli Hague, Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest winner, 2020


Wave hits shore with splash

Sand is thrown into the air

Kid falls and face-plants


Ages 13-17

Second Place: Rylee Blackham

Morro Bay High School


A maze of plant life

Plentiful with animals

Hidden by the fog


First Place: Anahi Peralta Cordova

Los Osos Middle School

Anahi Peralta Cordova stands inn front of a tree by the ocean. She wears a black zip-up sweatshirt. She is looking at the camera.
Anahi Peralta Cordova, Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest Winner, 2020.


Ribbons of water

With them, sea otters revealed

Diving down for food


State of the Bay 2020: Free verse

Ages 8-12

Second Place: Vena Fryer

Teach Elementary School

Vena Fryer, Poetry Contest Winner, 2020 looks at the camera.
Vena Fryer, Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest Winner, 2020


The Snowy Plover

Ode to the Snowy Plover, like a cotton ball on legs

Feathers white they bring delight

To the sandy dunes and waves

Eggs hidden deep within the sand

Your subtle patterns are quite grand

Skittering about throughout the land

Hide from Corvids and birds you must

Keeping eggs safe within the dust

Keep away from being trod upon,

You do throughout the dusk and dawn

The paths I’ll stick

Through the sandspit

The ocean breeze a-blowin’

Ode to the Snowy Plover, always kept a goin’

Watch Vena Fryer read her poem!


First Place: Madeline Spencer

Manchester GATE Elementary

Madeline Spencer, Poetry Contest Winner, 2020, beach
Madeline Spencer, Poetry Contest Winner, 2020


All that Flows From the Estuary

Visiting Morro Bay you might think of the ocean

with its cool waves lapping at your legs.

The weather with the warm sun,

the fresh air.

And animals!

Like the long-legged plovers standing on the beach looking

for spiny mole crabs in the sand;

The furry sea otter floating on its back then diving

to come up with a mussel, clam or a prickly purple sea urchin;

Mothers otters carrying pups on their chests then tying them to long strands of kelp to

keep them safe

as the tides flow in and out—

In and out.

Or south of Morro rock, below

the Museum of Natural History, striped shore crabs

 hide under rocks. The blue-

band hermit crabs tucked up in their shells.

Sometimes you might even find a Lewis Moon Snail searching for its prey.

But so much of this life depends

on clean waters from the estuary where the bay begins.

This bay offers the gifts,

but the estuary asks us to give something in return.

It asks us not to pollute,

 not to add extra nitrates from treated wastewater, animal waste, and over-fertilizing lawns.

The nitrates drive away

sensitive macroinvertebrates, cause creeks,

rivers, ponds, all the water

that comes into the bay to become choked by algae

that dies, decomposes and depletes oxygen levels

disrupting a food chain that flows from the estuary

Past the Rock, and out

Into the ocean.

Madeline Spencer, Poetry Contest Winner, 2020, Morro Bay Boardwalk
Madeline Spencer, Poetry Contest Winner, 2020, poses at the Marina Peninsula Trail Boardwalk during a visit to Morro Bay.


Ages 13-17

Second Place: Emily Niebuhr

San Luis Obispo High School


Quiddity of the Bay

Sapphire seas and cobalt skies,

Emerald eelgrass spreading tendrils into each crashing wave

Breathing life into the seabirds and ocean creatures

Sandy hands knowing what they have to save.

The years sprint by with sorrowful cries

Skies reflecting the empty waters below

Our bay a microcosm of greater splendor,

Only with air and light can verdant sea grass grow.

Ecru, taupe, and fawn bits tumble from the rivers each day

Promising to fill the bay, helped along by mankind’s mistakes.

The plover’s, brant’s, and trout’s homes lost

A cost paid by innocents as the collective heart of those who care breaks.

Every sunrise ignites the waves, each swell fading into ripples as it crosses the bay

Fresh water poured from rivers surrounding

Melding worlds of salt and fresh creatures,

Crafting a home to showcase nature astounding.

Our job it is, to protect this place

Not allowing life’s race to overshadow the ocean and its stars

Each glimmering scintilla glowing on the harbor below

And lighting up the need to maintain the bay and repair its scars.


First Place: Krupa Patel

Los Osos Middle School


Swimming Through Thoughts

As the sand tickles my toes and the waves splash onto my feet,

I begin to drown in thoughts that may not have been mine.

Birds fly over my head, together or apart, endangered or protected

Ranging from house finches to rufous hummingbirds.

In the water that covers my feet, many animals roam

A place where fish eat each other, a place where seals cry

A community comes together, to improve the life in the estuary

To help the fish and plants in this place survive.

Where salt and freshwater mix this unique place

Where creatures of all types of water meet in this one precious place.

Water suddenly washes over me, bringing me back to reality,

Bringing me back from my ocean of thoughts.

I get up and look around, see the birds and fish that flew and swam in my thoughts.

I keep walking through the beach

As the sand tickles my toes and the waves splash onto my feet.


We hold the Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest every spring. Keep an eye on our website for details! For more information on this year’s poetry contest and our wonderful judges, Kevin Patrick Sullivan, Marine Parker, and Karen Kirby, please visit our Poetry Contest 2020 page.


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