Nov 27, 2020

With Gratitude for the Morro Bay Estuary



Though much of our world has been turned upside down since the spring, forcing us to find new rhythms and ways to go about our days, the Morro Bay estuary remains unchanged.

The black brant geese began arriving earlier this month, as they are wont to do this time of year. The shorebirds forage on the mudflats and in the pickleweed of the saltmarsh, seemingly without pause. The tides come in and go out every twelve hours.

Watch this timelapse video of the tides coming in and going out of the Morro Bay estuary.

While we have had to adapt quickly to change and new difficulties in our daily lives, the wildlife in the estuary and surrounding lands have adapted to difficult conditions and a state of ongoing change—albeit on a greatly extended time scale.

The roots of the California Live oaks that cover the El Morro Elfin Forest Natural Area reach down into nutrient-poor soil, while their branches push up through strong winds. Despite these harsh conditions, which twist and stunt them, these oaks have persisted for centuries.

Pygmy oaks in the Elfin Forest
California live oaks in the El Moro Elfin Forest grow to a maximum of 20 feet tall, though they are genetically similar to live oaks that grow to 50 feet tall in other environments.

The molluscs, plants, and other wildlife that live and grow in the salt marsh and the mudflats live through daily extremes. Sometimes submerged below cold, salty water, sometimes exposed to the sun and wind, these plants and animals have adapted to live and even thrive on the constant of change.

This photograph, courtesy of Ruth Ann Angus, shows the salt marsh during a King Tide.
This photograph, courtesy of Ruth Ann Angus, shows the salt marsh during a King Tide. King Tides are the highest tides of the year and can give us a glimpse of the everyday high tides that we can expect to see with sea level rise. Wildlife that live in the salt marsh environment have adapted to withstand being submerged by tides this high.
Low Tide at Windy Cove
Low tide at Windy Cove with the mudflats exposed to the elements. Photograph by Ruth Ann Angus.

Today and every day, we are grateful for the Morro Bay estuary’s reminder that life goes on even in the face of change and challenge.

Many, many thanks to the people who contributed to the Beats for the Bay Fundraiser last week! You can still check out the show with Upside Ska and donate today…just visit our Donate page.

Help us protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary!

Thank you for your support!