Feb 18, 2022

Photograph Friday: Three reasons to love Morro Bay and all our estuaries



Every February we celebrate our love for the Morro Bay National Estuary and share that love through the #IHeartEstuaries and #EstuaryLove campaigns. Today, we hope you will join us in marveling at the myriad contributions that estuaries make to our ecosystems, lives, and livelihoods.

Estuaries protect our communities

Protecting and restoring estuary habitat for fish and other wildlife also protects our coastal communities by making them more resilient in the face of extreme weather. Coastal wetlands like the Morro Bay saltmarsh provide storm protection valued at $23.2 billion per year. As climate change continues to produce increasingly intense storms, this protection will be even more vital.

The Morro Bay estuary’s salt marsh absorbs excess water, reducing the impact of both extra-high tides and floodwaters.

Wildlife thrives in our watershed, creeks, and the bay

Estuaries, the freshwater streams that feed them, and the surrounding land provide essential habitat for a wide range of wildlife.

More than 200 species of birds live in the Morro Bay area for at least part of the year.

Great egrets and snowy egrets gather in the Morro Bay estuary's saltmarsh to feed.
Great egrets and snowy egrets, both year-round residents of Morro Bay, gather in the Morro Bay estuary’s saltmarsh to feed.
Pennington Creek, with healthy bug scores and the potential for trout sightings and a variety of habitat features is always one of our favorite surveys to complete.
Pennington Creek’s clean, cold water allows steelhead trout to thrive. From the upland creeks, steelhead make their way downstream, through the estuary, and out into the open ocean.

Many sensitive and threatened species including the California red-legged frog, the snowy plover, and the peregrine falcon find food and other necessary resources in Morro Bay’s water and on its shores.

Western snowy plover chicks in a nest with egg. Photograph taken in Morro Bay by Erin Feinblatt.

Our watershed (the estuary, the surrounding lands, and the creeks that drain to it) are also home to species that are endemic to this area, meaning that they are found here and nowhere else in the world.

The Morro manzanita is one of the species endemic to the Morro Bay estuary watershed.

Estuaries support fish, fishing, and aquaculture

Morro Bay’s working harbor and active fishing community depends, in part, on the fact that more than two-thirds of commercially valuable fish species spend part of their lives in an estuary. In Morro Bay, these species include sand dabs, rock fish, and halibut, just to name a few.

The Morro Bay estuary also boasts water clean enough for oyster farming. Since oysters are filter feeders, water quality standards for oyster farm sites are very high. Luckily, Morro Bay’s waters are clean enough that you can eat locally grown oysters from both Grassy Bar Oyster Company and Morro Bay Oyster Company right on the waterfront.

Share your love for Morro Bay

This month, we invite you to share what you love about the Morro Bay estuary. When you post, use #iheartestuaries and #EstuaryLove.

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Help us protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary!

Thank you for helping our beautiful, bountiful, biodiverse bay!