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Morro Bay National Estuary

Field Updates March 2020: Rain, Storm Flow, Eelgrass Restoration

Storm clouds over the Morro Bay estuary

The Rain Returns March brought more rain after a dry February, with the San Luis Obispo CIMIS rain gauge receiving 5.75″ of precipitation. This helped increase the flow of creeks throughout our watershed and brings our total up to 12.36″ of rain since the start of the water year in October, 2019. Check out this link to learn more about water years, and to read some highlight about the 2019 water year. Surface flow and storm flow Around Morro Bay, different creeks maintain varying levels of surface water flow. This means that some creeks have no visible surface water flow, …

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Recycling with flair (aka get ready for crafts)

We hope you are staying healthy and sane during these crazy times! Finding ways to stay entertained seems to be getting harder, especially if you have kids at home. Have you thought about reusing your recyclables or re-purposing plastic trash as a crafty pastime? Odds are you have plastic packaging and other items at home that can’t be recycled. Instead of tossing them in the trash, you can reuse them as craft materials. Beyond keeping trash out of the landfill, you’ll also be cutting down on your carbon footprint by reusing something instead of buying new supplies that have to …

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The recycling world is plastic (malleable) it’s time for an update!

How is California doing with recycling?  If you’re wondering how California is doing with recycling, the short answer is, not very well. Because of California’s location on the West Coast, the state has depended heavily on selling recyclables to China. Since China put the National Sword Policy into action in 2017, the U.S. has been struggling to support the recycling system and keep it from crumbling. For those of you who haven’t read our first blog on the business of recycling, we recommend reading it first, it will blow your recycling mind!   A National Sword Policy Refresher  As a refresher, here is a quick summary of the National Sword policy. The U.S. has been dependent on China buying our …

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Join the Morro Bay Rain Gauge Network to Track Local Precipitation

In light of the recent rainstorms we’ve had locally, we invite you to participate in tracking precipitation at your home, work, or school through our Morro Bay Rain Gauge Network. This is an easy way to help gather important data from home, and a great project for families or classes to take on together. Keep reading for background information about why scientists track precipitation, how stormwater affects the Morro Bay watershed, and how you can join the Morro Bay Rain Gauge Network. How scientists track precipitation A water year is a twelve-month period of time that begins October 1 of …

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Field Updates February 2020: Creek and Eelgrass

Creek Water Quality February was a month marked with warm temperatures and low precipitation here in the Morro Bay watershed. In February 2019, the San Luis Obispo CIMIS rain gauge received 7.48 inches of rain, with 57% of days during the month recording rainfall. Comparatively, this year’s rainfall has been much lower, with a February monthly total of 0.01 inches of rain and only one day with rainfall as of February 28. Low precipitation levels have led to low flows in our creeks, as can be seen in this picture of Dairy Creek, a tributary of Chorro Creek. The amount …

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A National Treasure in Words: Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest 2020

This living flowing land is all there is, forever We are it it sings through us —   — Gary Snyder, By Frazier Creek Falls …, Remember the small secret creases of the earth — the grassy The wooded, and the rocky — that the water had made, finding its way.   — Wendell Berry, Sabbaths   This year, we are holding our annual poetry contest, A National Treasure in Words: the Morro Bay Estuary, in March to match the release of our triennial State of the Bay report. We are asking writers ages eight and up to send us haiku focused …

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Rare Nudibranch! Two Citizen Scientists find Cerberilla pungoarena in the Morro Bay Estuary

Cerberilla pungoarena in Morro Bay. Copyright passiflora4, Laura Schachterle and Thomas Hintz.

    Cerberilla pungoarena (Collier & Farmer, 1964) is one of those rare nudibranchs you may never see: only a few subtidal specimens have been reported since the mid-2000s. But now, fifteen years later and further north than they have ever been seen before, a single specimen of C. pungoarena was spotted and photographed a few months ago in shallow water in the Morro Bay Estuary by two intrepid nudibranch enthusiasts, Laura Schachterle and Thomas Hintz.  Nudibranchs are shell-less marine molluscs commonly called sea slugs. There are over 130 species of nudibranchs found in California, many brightly-colored. “Great find and …

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Field Updates January 2020: Eelgrass Success and Creek Water Quality

This month, our field staff have been busy monitoring eelgrass success in the bay and water quality in the creeks that drain to the Morro Bay estuary. Eelgrass monitoring and restoration success If you spent time out on the bay in January, you might have noticed the really high tides. January 2020 had King Tides, meaning that the high tides were much higher than normal. These extreme high tides are mirrored by extreme low tides. We always take advantage of these extreme low tides to monitor eelgrass, as we have a wider window than normal to conduct our monitoring. Eelgrass …

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Photograph Friday: Why We Heart Estuaries

Brown pelicans are often found fishing in the Morro Bay estuary.

  Every year around Valentine’s Day, the Morro Bay National Estuary Program joins in I Heart Estuaries Week. During this time, we celebrate and raise awareness of the essential contributions that estuaries make to the health of our planet and to our quality of life. In that spirit, this Photograph Friday post illustrates some of the reasons why we should protect, conserve, and restore these special places where saltwater and freshwater mix. Estuaries provide clean water, abundant wildlife, natural beauty, recreation, and historic and cultural assets. In addition to their intrinsic value, these elements also contribute to the local economy …

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20 ways you can be more environmentally friendly during the roaring eco-20s.  

As the month of New Year’s resolutions approaches the finish line, you might want to add more to your list! Here are twenty ways you can be more environmentally friendly during the roaring eco-20s.   1. I scream, you scream, we all scream for sunscreen! (Especially when we forget to put it on and find ourselves covered in sunburn.)  Do you know what type of sunscreen you use? There are two types of sunscreen, chemical and mineral sunscreen. Chemical sunscreen is now known to contribute to coral reef bleaching and potentially harming other wildlife through water contamination.  How do you know you have a chemical sunscreen? Look for these active ingredients listed on the bottle: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. If you have any of these in your sunscreen, that means it’s a chemical …

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