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
Second Place: Seamus Wolf
Morro Bay Montessori
The kangaroo rat
He is a jumping wonder
He is nocturnal
First Place: Eli Hague
Morro Bay Montessori
Wave hits shore with splash
Sand is thrown into the air
Kid falls and face-plants
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
Ribbons of water
With them, sea otters revealed
Diving down for food
State of the Bay 2020: Free verse
Second Place: Vena Fryer
Teach Elementary School
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
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.
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.
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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Help us protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary!
- Donate to the Estuary Program today and support our work in the field, the lab, and beyond.
The Estuary Program is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. We depend on funding from grants and generous donors to continue our work.
- Support us by purchasing estuary-themed gear from ESTERO. This locally owned and operated company donates 20% of proceeds from its Estuary clothing line and 100% of Estuary decal proceeds to the Estuary Program. Thank you, ESTERO!
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