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Morro Bay National Estuary

Photograph Friday: Appreciating Our Corner of the Earth

    This week marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  In 1970, the first Earth Day drew 20 million people together in support of a more environmentally sustainable future. At the time, that was 10% of the total population of the United States. We can trace the roots of the Morro Bay National Estuary Program back to that day, which set in motion a decade of environmental reforms and grassroots work for a greener future. In 1972, the Clean Water Act established pollution control programs and protections for surface water quality. In 1987, Congress created the National Estuary Program …

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Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest 2020: Adult Winners Announced

  What a long, strange spring it’s been! One of the bright spots for us at the Estuary Program has been reading the entries for this year’s Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest: A National Treasure in Words. We always love reading what you’ve written about the bay, its wildlife, and what this special place means to you. This year, your words and the imagery you conjured took on even more significance as we looked for some extra light and connection to the natural world. Thank you to everyone who entered the contest for sharing your unique perspective and your presence, …

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Hike from Home: Tour the Portola Point Trail with Us

This too shall pass, but until then, here is a reminder of the beauty that Morro Bay has to offer. History of Portolá Point trail Portolá Point offers one of the best viewpoints in Morro Bay, allowing you to see a scenic panorama that includes the Morro Bay estuary, the sandspit, and distant Morro Rock. The name of the trail comes from Gaspar de Portolá, who was in charge of the Portolá expedition from 1769-1770. This was an expedition of land and sea. The goal was to travel from San Diego to Monterey Bay, but they somehow passed it and …

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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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