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Morro Bay National Estuary

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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Sea Slug of the Month – Yellow Blobs of Awesomeness, Guest Post by Robin Agarwal

    Yellow Blobs of Awesomeness: Sea Goddesses, Sea Lemons and That One with the Tentacles Guest post by Robin Agarwal   Humans like sea slugs. They’re harmless to humans, but voracious predators if you’re a hydroid or a sponge. They come in a variety of cool shapes and sizes, and have fascinating life histories that allow one to throw around words like ‘nudi’ and ‘hermaphrodite’ with impunity in mixed company. But best of all, nudibranchs appeal mightily to humans’ attraction to pattern and color. We cannot resist taking a closer look at something bright and colorful as we explore …

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Field Updates, June & July 2019: Creeks, Road Restoration, Eelgrass

Shows a volunteer conducting water quality monitoring

  With summer in full swing, field staff at the Morro Bay National Estuary Program have greatly appreciated the long days. As always, we have been busy out in the field, collecting data from the watershed. Here are some of the things we’ve been up to recently. Creeks Our ongoing monitoring effort of the two subwatersheds, Chorro Creek and Los Osos Creek, that drain into Morro Bay allow long term trends to be established and we can see if current conditions vary from historical patterns. Chorro Creek is the main creek in our watershed, draining about 60% of the total …

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Photograph Friday: Slow-Motion Summer Sunset Over Morro Bay

8:30 p.m. sunset sun rays

  This Photograph Friday, we are sharing a summer sunset over Morro Bay in slow motion, with one photograph taken every ten minutes during a single evening in July. For more photographs like this, visit our Morro Baycam. 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 depend on funding from grants and generous donors to continue our work. Support us by purchasing estuary-themed gear from ESTERO. This locally owned and operated company donates 20% of proceeds from its Estuary …

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Meet Sea Otter Savvy

Gena Bentall drives a boat during a sea otter study.

  This is an introductory post to our new blog series, Be Sea Otter Savvy, written by Gena Bentall, a 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. Why should we care about sea otters? Our news is filled with the dire predictions of climate change and daily reminders of national and global discord. Our daily lives focus on the challenges of providing for ourselves and our …

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Sea Slug of the Month – Morro Bay’s ‘Gateway Nudi:’ Opalescent Nudibranch, Guest Post by Robin Agarwal

Three Opalescent Nudibranchs (Hermissenda opalescens). Photograph courtesy of Robin Agarwal via Flickr Creative Commons License

    “Whoaaaa…what is THAT?” “It’s gorgeous, whatever it is.” “It’s moving!” “Dude, check this out!” “So BLUE!” “What IS it?” Music to a science educator’s ears, of course, thanks to the astonishing colors and reasonably viewable size of one of California’s most iconic sea slug species, the Opalescent Nudibranch (Hermissenda opalescens). Found throughout the Central California coast, these brightly-colored carnivores are often the first nudibranchs to astonish and delight the humans venturing into their intertidal world during seasonal low tides. Photograph of Opalescent nudibranch, (Hermissenda opalescens) taken in Monterey, California. Courtesy of Robin Agarwal, under Creative Commons license via …

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