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Morro Bay National Estuary

Great Hiking and Walking Trails Around the Morro Bay Estuary

    Open spaces and hiking trails to explore rank high on our list of things we’re grateful for at the Morro Bay National Estuary Program. The land that surrounds the 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 for casual strolls and more strenuous treks. Whether you’re planning a much-needed walk after a festive family dinner, or looking for something fun to do on your day off, we have …

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Morro Baycam: Live Video of Morro Bay Estuary

The Baycam watched on as rain moved over the Morro Bay estuary.

    Have you ever wondered what it’s like in Morro Bay while you’re at work or home? Are the pelicans diving? Are there whitecaps on the waves? Is it a good day for a walk out to Morro Rock? Or is that thick, wet fog rolling in? Whenever curiosity strikes, you can now visit MBNEP.org/baycam to get a live video-stream view of the wind, waves, birds, boats, those beautiful fall sunsets, and even the annual Lighted Boat Parade on that first Saturday in December! Live Video of Morro Bay Check out the live video below, bookmark the Morro Baycam …

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Photograph Friday: Armored Invertebrates in the Morro Bay Estuary

kelp crab on ulva

    When asked to think of an animal, most people picture something they are familiar with like a housecat, bluebird, mountain lion, shark, coyote, gopher, or some other mammal, fish, or bird. All of these species are vertebrates— animals that have a backbone. Though people are most familiar with vertebrates, 97% of animals worldwide are invertebrates, which lack a backbone and spinal column. The invertebrate group comprises an incredibly diverse array of species, including everything from soft-bodied earth worms and venomous scorpions on land to burrowing geoducks and colonial coral beneath the waves. In this post, we’ll share four …

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Field Updates October 2021: First Rain, Groundwater Recharge, and Runoff

A full stream runs after the October 2021s storm.

First rain! The Morro Bay watershed received its first rainfall for the new water year on October 24! A local rain gauge at Canet Road off Highway 1 in the Morro Bay watershed recorded 2.32 inches of rainfall over a three-day period. Local rain gauge network The Estuary Program has a local rain gauge network that compiles rainfall data and tracks hyper-local trends. This network relies on citizen scientists to gather rainfall data from their yards, schools, businesses, offices, or any outside space where a small rain gauge can sit undisturbed and collect the rain. If you’re not already a …

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Contribute to Creepy Crawly Community Science Projects

Here is a funnel web with a spider at its entrance. Picture by Tony Iwane, shared via Flickr under Creative Commons license.

    We’ve curated a list of slightly spooky Community Science Projects from SciStarter that need your helping hand! Why not try one out this Halloween? You can get in the spirit while gathering data to help scientists better understand your neck of the deep, dark woods (or the suburbs, city, coast, or anywhere you live). There’s no experience required, and can even wear your costume while you work. Eight-Eyed Expedition: Collecting Orbweaver Spiders Connected to Waterways for Genetic Sequencing The Evolab at the University of California Berkeley needs community science volunteers to collect and send them Californian long-jawed spiders …

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Bioassessment 2021: the results are in! How healthy are local creeks? Plus a new video!

Click here to watch the new bioassessment video now, or find it at the end of this post.   Annual bioassessment monitoring tells us about creek health Each spring, the Estuary Program heads up a bioassessment monitoring effort in our local creeks. The data helps us understand the health of our creeks and how conditions are changing over time. The effort has two main components. We collect benthic macroinvertebrates, which are bottom-dwelling animals visible to the naked eye that lack a backbone. These include creatures such as stoneflies, dragonflies, and aquatic snails. We also collect habitat measurements such as whether …

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New Undescribed Nudibranchs! Two New-to-Science Sea Slugs Recently Spotted on the California Coast.

Aeolid Nudibranchs_copyright Siena McKim

Guest post by Robin Agarwal California has about 180 known species of sea slugs Most of California’s approximately 180 known species of sea slugs (nudibranchs and related species) were described in scientific literature decades ago. Only a handful of these sea slugs are regularly seen and documented, but have not been formally described. These species remain on scientists’ collective “to-do” list, including: Doto Form A of Goddard (1996) One of the most common Dotos on the Southern and Central California coast, its pinkish cerata are covered with white-tipped tubercles. Its rhinophores have a prominent cup-shaped sheath and are tipped with …

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Updates from the Field, September 2021: Eelgrass wrack

Eelgrass wrack

  What’s that washed up on the beach?  Those who spend time in and around Morro Bay may have seen a recent increase in eelgrass washed up near local coastal access points like Pasadena Point, Tidelands Park, or State Park Marina. This washed-up seagrass is known as wrack, and can often accumulate to form a distinctive “wrack-line” along beaches.   Here at the Estuary Program, we’ve had numerous local reports about the increase in wrack. People are asking whether the eelgrass is dying, and whether they should be alarmed at the amount of wrack washing up. Local meteorologist, John Lindsey recently addressed this increase in an article for the San Luis Obispo Tribune.  Why is there …

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Predicting Rain With Tarantula Math: Where folklore meets meteorology

  New Water Year begins on October 1 Water Year 2022 begins Friday, October 1. A water year is a twelve-month period of time that begins October 1 of one calendar year and ends September 30 of the next. The reason that the water year differs from the calendar year is that, in many places, precipitation that falls as snow during the fall and winter creates a snow pack that doesn’t melt until spring or summer. By setting the start of the water year on October 1, scientists can track precipitation from the time it falls as snow in the …

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Sea Otter Awareness Week Quiz

A discriminating eye can identify photos of sea otters that feature natural, undisturbed behaviors. Photo credit Gena Bentall Taken from shore, from 60 meters away, with 300mm zoom. Naps disturbed = 0.

  You might have admired sea otters near Coleman Beach, Morro Rock, or the South T-pier, but how much do you know about Morro Bay’s furriest residents? Since it’s both Sea Otter Awareness Week and National Estuaries Week, it’s a good time to test your knowledge with this quick quiz. (Scroll to the bottom of the blog post for the answers and more fun sea otter information.) Sea Otter Quiz (Scroll down to find the answers to this quiz and more sea otter facts.) How many hairs do sea otters have per square inch of their bodies? Up to 10,000 …

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