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Morro Bay National Estuary

Be Sea Otter Savvy: A New Perspective on Sea Otter Photography

You can make a difference by following ethical wildlife photography practices and scrutinizing wildlife photos carefully for signs of disturbance. Photo by Gena Bentall.

    This post is part of our blog series, Be Sea Otter Savvy, written by Gena Bentall, Director and Senior Scientist at Sea Otter Savvy. Posts in this series include tips on how to help sea otters thrive through ethical stewardship, as well as information about sea otters’ behavior, biology, and their role in the estuary and ocean ecosystems.  A New Perspective on Sea Otter Photography You will soon be wondering what has directed my attention so intensively on photographers. In the past the field of wildlife photography was more of a specialist field—you had to have an expensive …

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Investigating the State of Morro Bay Estuary: State of the Bay Report 2020

    Every three years, the Morro Bay National Estuary Program publishes a State of the Bay report that uses data gathered by our staff, volunteers, and partner organizations to examine the health of the Morro Bay estuary and watershed. It provides important information about environmental trends and guides local efforts to protect and restore this special place. This year, we published a digital version of the State of the Bay report with additional multimedia content and information that we couldn’t fit into into the print version of the report. Today, we invite you to investigate the the health of …

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Bioassessment Survey Results 2019: Tracking the Health of Local Creeks

Two volunteers wear waders and dark red plaid shirts. The one on the left holds an algae-covered rock that is about 12 inches long. The volunteer on the right uses a red ruler to measure the width of the rock. The data that they collect will be used to calculate the overall bioassessment survey results for the year.

  What we learn from bioassessment survey results One of the goals of the Estuary Program is to monitor the bay and the lands that surround it to better understand conditions and how they are changing over time. As part of this effort, the Estuary Program conducts spring bioassessment surveys. This data allow us to assess the health of our creeks and determine if they support sensitive aquatic life. What we collect during bioassessment surveys Each spring, staff and volunteers head out to local creeks to collect habitat measurements such as the depth of the water, the size of the …

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MORRO BAY ESTUARY POETRY CONTEST 2020: STUDENT WINNERS ANNOUNCED

    This year, we asked entrants to our Morro Bay Estuary Poetry contest to pen haiku about any aspect of the Morro Bay estuary that called to them as well as free verse poems about any issue discussed in our 2020 State of the Bay report. Writers from down the road, across the county, in the Central Valley, and even from overseas entered the contest. It was an honor to read each and every entry. We published the winning poems by our adult contestants in April. You can read their poems here. Below, you will find the winning poems …

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Help Keep Litter Out of Our Bay

A blue glove lies on rock at beach

  Litter includes COVID-19 personal protective equipment We’ve been hearing from many community members who are concerned about increasing amounts of litter along local beaches, at parks, and spilling out of trashcans all around the bay. A lot of the items people report finding are plastic food containers. This makes sense in a way, since most restaurants are currently operating on a takeout-only basis and/or using disposable containers to keep things as germ free as possible. There are simply more of these containers around than there were a few months ago. We’ve also started to see personal protective equipment including …

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A Day in the Life of a Field Tech: Eelgrass Monitoring, by Blake Toney

A staff member stands in waders in a puddle on the mudflat.

In today’s post, Blake Toney, former Morro Bay National Estuary Program Field Tech, reflects on an early morning spent monitoring eelgrass during a very low tide in Morro Bay.  5:40 a.m. I arrive at today’s site a few minutes before my coworkers to get my bearings. The sun will not rise for another hour, but already the dark sky has begun to take on a hint of blue so faint it becomes harder to see when I concentrate on it. The moon provides some light, enough for me to trek out across the mud after struggling to fit into my …

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The Perfect Social Distancing Activity: Early Morning Tidepooling for Nudibranchs in San Luis Obispo County

A Limacia cockerelli nudibranch from the front. It is white with orange-tipped cerata.

    Now through October is the peak of the nudibranch-viewing season. Wait, what? You didn’t know there was a season for looking at nudibranchs? Well, there is, at least for some of the flashiest species found in the tidepools of the Central Coast. Scuba divers have a bit more time and options, but for those of us who look for nudibranchs with our heads above water, the early morning hours of late summer offer us some of the best opportunities to see these colorful marine gastropods in the intertidal. In previous blogs for the Estuary Program, I’ve gone into …

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Director’s Desk: We Are Still Here, Monitoring, Restoring, Educating

Monitoring Coordinator, Makenzie, sports a mask during fieldwork.

    We are in a time of colliding arcs of history, immersed in the uncertainty and heightened emotions of change. The backdrop of this moment, like all moments, is our Earth. The place that holds and nurtures us. In the Morro Bay watershed, we are exceedingly lucky to be able to enjoy the beauty and peace of our estuary. The fluidity of the bay—the changing of the tides, the movement of the birds, the ever shifting fog line—brings both comfort and a mirror to the constant change around us. Although each of us may not be able to get …

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Paul Bump on Researching Acorn Worms in Morro Bay: The Unknown Lives of the Small and Squishy

Paul Bump, Guest Author Paul Bump is an explorer of the small and squishy.  He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2016 in marine biology, and the spent two years working as a lab technician at the Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC.   As a fourth year PhD student in the Lowe Lab at the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University in Monterey, California, Paul  studies how an organism can build two wildly different bodies during its life while having access to the same genetic information. Through his research in strange, enigmatic, marine invertebrates, he hopes to …

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Morro Bay Eelgrass Restoration Update: May 2020

    Eelgrass in Morro Bay grows at a range of intertidal and subtidal depths throughout the estuary. Intertidal areas are exposed at high tide, while subtidal locations are always under water. Over the last few years, the Estuary Program has focused on transplanting eelgrass at intertidal locations. Focusing on shallower intertidal locations has been ideal for getting access to the mudflats on foot, and has allowed us to maximize our volunteer support. (Thank you, volunteers!) This spring, we are excited to have additional funding to expand our planting efforts to subtidal locations, too, as many intertidal areas off the …

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