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Morro Bay National Estuary

Morro Bay Watershed Native Plant Series: Introduction

  Why do native plants thrive in the lands surrounding Morro Bay? The Morro Bay watershed is one of the most botanically diverse regions in California. This diversity can be traced back to the ice ages as California’s coastline receded and advanced over thousands of years, and the tectonic plates settled into their current position. Many communities and species of plants have evolved here as a result of such active geologic change. These plant communities have continued to exist and thrive because San Luis Obispo County still resembles its natural state, despite increasing human habitation and land use development. Because …

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Have a Happy, Bay-Friendly, Halloween 2020!

  It’s October on the Central Coast; the sun is going down earlier and there is a little chill in the air. Halloween is only three weeks away! Very little is business as usual this year, but the changing of the season and having a familiar holiday celebrations to look forward to can help give us a all a sense of normalcy. Halloween itself is a lot of fun; it means candy, costumes, and light-hearted mischief for everyone. While traditional trick-or-treating and group celebrations aren’t an option this year, many people are planning to celebrate at home. Between candy wrappers, …

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Continuous Water Temperature Monitoring in Our Creeks

Closeup of a tidbit

    The Morro Bay National Estuary Program (Estuary Program) monitors the water quality of local creeks using a variety of different indicators, including dissolved oxygen, flow, pH and conductivity (which is a measure of the ability of water to pass an electrical current). Staff and volunteers collect this data on a monthly to bimonthly basis. Continuous data loggers track temperature For other parameters, such as water temperature, the Estuary Program uses continuous data loggers that record water temperature at thirty-minute intervals. This continuous dataset allows us to see the specific time and day when water temperatures begin to rise …

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PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS: SHARE THE BEAUTY AND BOUNTY OF MORRO BAY

sunrise with red canoe in Los Osos

  Our Beauty and Bounty of Morro Bay photo contest celebrates National Estuaries Week and recognizes the many benefits that estuaries provide. These places where freshwater rivers and streams meet the salty sea are home to myriad wildlife. They nurture juvenile fish, including commercial species. They provide us protection against both flood and drought. They also provide us with a chance to recreate and reconnect with nature. They give us beauty and solace, too. We received so many beautiful photographs that showed every angle, mood, and aspect of the bay. It was very difficult to choose between them, but after much …

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Sea Slugs on the Move: Bent on World Domination, or Opportunistic Travel Bums?

Polycera atra (top) and Polycera hedgpethi on Bugula brozoan prey San Luis Obispo County, California

    Sea Slugs on the Move: Bent on World Domination, or Opportunistic Travel Bums? With the passing of the very low, very early morning tides of summer, tidepooling minds must reluctantly turn away from the outer edges of our coastline for a few months, until the autumn minus tides return in mid-October. And what better topic to occupy our Covid/smoke/asteroid/politics stressed minds than possible world domination by sea slugs? I exaggerate, of course. We won’t be marching in lines and waving tiny nudibranch flags any time soon. But there has been a quiet movement of sea slug populations taking …

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International Coastal Cleanup Day Gets Social-Distancing Friendly

This photograph shows a collection of tiny trash pieces. They may be small, but removing them from the environment can have a big positive impact.

  This time of year, we typically find ourselves preparing for Creeks to Coast, the San Luis Obispo County version of the International Coastal Cleanup. We pick up supplies from our friends at ECOSLO, whose staff manage and coordinate the county-wide cleanup effort, get in touch with local boat captains to secure a ride for our volunteers over to the sandspit, and get ready for the big day. The photographs below are from the Creeks to Coast cleanup sites that the Estuary Program hosted last year. This year, the Creeks to Coast cleanup, like many yearly events, is adapting to …

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Photo Contest: Share the Beauty and Bounty of Morro Bay

    Estuaries worldwide deserve our attention and protection. Every year, Restore America’s Estuaries hosts National Estuaries Week during the third week of September to recognize the many benefits that estuaries provide. These places where freshwater rivers and streams meet the salty sea are biological hot spots, home to a wide range of wildlife including protected species like steelhead trout, Southern sea otters, and tidewater gobies. Estuaries provide a nursery for commercially important fish that mature and then venture out into the ocean. Their marshy extremities filter and absorb stormwater runoff, removing pollutants before the water enters the bay and …

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Morro Baycam: Cloud Watching, Spring and Summer 2020

    We like watching the clouds go by over the bay whether we’re on the beach, on a boat, or taking a peek at the Morro Baycam on a break from working at home. Today, we invite you to check out some of our favorite cloudscapes from dawn to sunset and everywhere between. Subscribe to our weekly blog to have posts like this delivered to your inbox each week. Help us protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary! Donate to the Estuary Program today and support our work in the field, the lab, and beyond. The Estuary Program is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. We …

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Bioassessment 2020: Highlights from the Season

Giant Water Bugs, also known as “Toe-Biters,” are large invertebrate predators with a powerful bite! Females typically deposit their eggs onto the males’ back, and the male “Toe-Biter” keeps the eggs safe until they hatch.

  As many of our readers and volunteers know, our spring bioassessment season is one of the major monitoring efforts of the year. We use a state-wide protocol that includes detailed habitat measurements and macroinvertebrate collection to assess creek health. Volunteers are an integral part of this effort. Our volunteers come to us from all walks of life, from seniors to college students and everything in between. We kick off the season with an orientation, and then volunteers join us on our surveys. Each season we usually have about 20 volunteers helping us monitor ten sites, collecting over 1,000 data points per site. Spring 2020: a …

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Catch Up On Morro Bay Estuary Wildlife Blog Series

    Most of us are spending more of our free time time at home, taking socially-distanced walks along the bay or finding refuge on less-traveled trails. Whether you’re taking time to notice all the details of the green spaces you already knew well or branching out to new near-home destinations, you may be seeing some wildlife you don’t yet know. To help you identify and get to know a little bit about some of our native species, we’re sharing a few of our favorite series with you this week. Learn Native Plants by Habitat Type This series introduces you …

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