Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
Morro Bay National Estuary Program

Family-Friendly Hikes Around Los Osos

Looking down the descent from Broderson Peak. Photograph from HikesPeak.com

    The land that surrounds the Morro Bay estuary is contoured by hills and valleys, studded with trees, and etched by creeks that take their time winding down to the salt marsh and entering bay. In short, it is a beautiful place that offers many opportunities to get outside and explore. But, as temperatures dip and the sun starts to set earlier in the day, many of us spend more time inside than out. Studies show that making time to enjoy the natural spaces around us by hiking, walking, or even just visiting with friends in green spaces can …

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The “Smalls”: The Teeniest, Tiniest Sea Slugs In California

Guest post by Robin Agarwal   This is the fourth post in our Sea Slug of the Month series. Find tips for spotting nudibranchs from the comfort of your local dock at the end of this post! So you’ve been tidepooling along your local reefs and you’ve found a few nudibranchs: Opalescents, Sea Lemons, Spanish Shawls, Hopkins’s Rose, Triophas. Maybe you’ve practically tripped over ginormous squishy Sea Hares. Boring, right? What a snooze, all those flamboyant colors, shapes, and bizarre anatomy. After all, those nudibranchs are over an inch long, and therefore way too easy to find.  If this is …

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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 …

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Creeks to Coast Cleanup Success in Morro Bay

    No matter how far inland we live, we’re all connected to the ocean by water. Rain washes downhill and into stormdrains, creeks, and rivers before entering the sea. So, if we’re going to keep plastics, other harmful debris, and pollutants out of the estuary and ocean, we have to start inland. That’s the idea behind the Creeks to Coast cleanup, a set of 49 cleanups organized by local nonprofit ECOSLO. This massive cleanup effort took place last weekend all across San Luis Obispo County on International Coastal Cleanup Day. During the course of three hours,  1,840 volunteers picked …

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Cuesta College dives in to help study eelgrass declines in Morro Bay

    A guest post by Dauphiene Parks During June 2019, a group of fourteen spirited Cuesta College Marine Microbiology students came together under the kind and careful guidance of professors Laurie McConnico and Silvio Favoreto. The mission was to explore the Morro Bay Estuary and examine the local eelgrass population. We quickly learned that 97% of the eelgrass in the Morro Bay Estuary has been lost, and that eelgrass habitats can provide an estimated $87,000 in ecosystem services annually. We were excited to be a part of this class that allowed us to earn college credit and work on a …

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Flaming Eye-Candy in the Tidepools: Spanish Shawl Nudibranchs, by Robin Agarwal

Two spanish shawl nudibranchs eat Eudendrium hydroids

    This is the third post in our Sea Slug of the Month series. Find tips for spotting nudibranchs in the intertidal zone at the end of this post!   Spanish Shawl nudibranchs If you live your life in saturated color, this is the sea slug for you.  One of the great treasures of a few hours’ worth of tidepooling along the California Central Coast during the lowest tides of the season is the possibility of seeing multiple species of nudibranchs. Commonly called sea slugs, a term that includes many other families of molluscan cousins, nudibranchs are shell-less marine …

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Field Updates, August 2019: Creeks, Stream Profile Survey, Upper Watershed Views

Lower Chorro Creek

    As summer winds down here along the Central Coast, schools are back in session and fall is just around the corner. Though this time of year is slower for field work as most of the field team is busy entering data and writing reports on our various projects, we still got to check out a few different places in our beautiful watershed. Creeks Our long-term monitoring program in the creeks continues with our staff and the help of volunteers. To see what we use the data we gather for, or learn more about what we do out at …

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Floodplain Restoration Project Sneak Peek in Photographs

Heavy machinery for regrading.

    Estuary Program staff and many of our partners, including the California Conservation Corps, the Watershed Stewards Program, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, have been hard at work on a large-scale floodplain restoration project in the Morro Bay watershed. This Labor Day, we are sharing a few photographs from the project site to celebrate the efforts of everyone involved in this project. From those with their boots on the ground to those involved in the land purchase, planning, and permitting processes, every single person who has worked on this longterm endeavor has contributed something essential. We …

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Be Sea Otter Savvy 2: Guidelines for Observing Sea Otters Safely

The best sea otter picture is one where the sea otters aren’t looking at the camera because they don’t even know you’re there. The photographer who captured this shot stayed quiet and kept far enough away from the otters so they could carry on resting, as they need to do to stay healthy.

  This is the second post to our blog series, Be Sea Otter Savvy, written by Gena Bentall, sea otter biologist and Program Coordinator for Sea Otter Savvy. Future posts in this series will include tips on how to help sea otters thrive and information about sea otters’ behavior, biology, and their role in the estuary and ocean ecosystems. When humans and sea otters overlap Disturbance to the natural behavioral patterns of sea otters can occur anywhere that human marine recreation activities and sea otter habitat overlap. Locations like harbors and bays, with easy access to the ocean and calm, …

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Twenty-Five Years After the Highway 41 Fire of August 1994

The smoke plume grows as the Highway 41 fire spreads. Photograph by Ruth Ann Angus, August 1994.

  Watching the Highway 41 Fire from the Morro Bay estuary On August 14, 1994, the Highway 41 fire broke out on the Cuesta Grade. Ruth Ann Angus, local photographer, writer, and long-time supporter of the Estuary Program, was out kayaking on the bay with a friend when the Highway 41 blaze began. As Ruth Ann recalls, “We paddled all the way back to Sweet Springs and as we turned around there, I spotted the puff of smoke in the sky. I knew it was bad so we immediately began paddling back to the Marina area….” She took photos on …

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