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Morro Bay National Estuary

Field Updates July 2021: Invasive Sea Lavender Monitoring in the Salt Marsh

Salt marsh channels

    Protecting the salt marsh Morro Bay’s salt marsh is a special area. It is here that our creeks deliver freshwater to the bay, and incoming tides push salty waters up through the marsh’s system of channels. This unique habitat supports rich plant and animal diversity, but this is a delicate balance that can be disrupted by nonnative species. European sea lavender (Limonium duriuscilum) is an invasive species of concern here on California’s central coast. It can crowd out native marsh plants such as California sea lavender (Limonium californicum) and endangered salt marsh bird’s beak (Chloropyron maritima) by outcompeting …

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Photograph Friday: Wild Names for Wildlife in Morro Bay

Strawberry anemone, Ken-ichi U. Flickr

Wild names for wildlife A diversity of wildlife populates the Morro Bay estuary and the variety of habitats that surround it, from the low-lying saltmarsh to the rocky tops of the Morros. Each of these species has at least one, typically two, and sometimes a plethora of names. Take the six-legged, many-egged specimen below. Meet the toe-biter (Abedus genus): a bug of many names This is an aquatic bug that lives in the creeks that drain into Morro Bay. It’s a bug with many common names: toe-biter, true bug, giant water bug, and ferocious water bug. Scientifically speaking, it’s a member …

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Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest 2021: Winning Poems

  This week, we are happy to share the winning poems for our 2021 Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest! Many thanks to our winning authors and to everyone who entered this year’s contest. We are grateful to you for sharing your love of words and the Morro Bay estuary. Many thanks to our generous and talented judges, Marnie Parker, Patti Sullivan, and Kevin Patrick Sullivan. Please enjoy. Estuarine 17: Youth Haiku 8-12 First Place By Evelyn Nannie Student at Family Partnership Charter Middle School   Balance Like yen and like yang Where two halves become one whole Our estuary   …

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Field Updates June 2021: Summer Heat and Low Flow Monitoring

Creek with rocks_Morro Bay National Estuary Program

    Things are heating up this summer! According to a local weather station monitored by California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS), the average air temperature increased from about 54°F in April and 57°F in May, to over 62°F during June. In our local creeks, we also have noticed a similar climb in stream temperatures. A water temperature logger on San Luisito Creek recorded a maximum seven-day rolling average of 57.7°F (14.3°C) during May, and a maximum seven-day rolling average of 59.3°F (15.2°C) during the first half of June. For more information on how we track temperature in our local …

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Day in the Life of a Marine Chemistry Research Student: Testing Ocean Chemistry in Morro Bay

This student measures for pH

    Guest post by Natalie Dupree   Dr. Emily Bockmon’s Ocean Chemistry Research Group As an undergraduate chemistry student at Cal Poly, there were numerous research groups to consider joining.  I chose to join Dr. Emily Bockmon’s research group, which is unique because it unites students from many disciplines under one common goal—to better understand the chemistry and impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on our Central Coast. Biologists, marine scientists, and chemists come together to collect data to support the scientific community and the community of Morro Bay to preserve and protect our bay and estuary. This …

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How to Watch Sea Otters in Morro Bay (Without The Sea Otters Watching You!)

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 blog is part of our series, Be Sea Otter Savvy, written by Gena Bentall, Director and Senior Scientist for Sea Otter Savvy.  As COVID-19 travel restrictions begin to ease after more than a year, many people are heading to California’s Central Coast. Morro Bay’s beautiful scenery and wildlife continue to draw visitors and locals to its shores. While we’re there, watching the waves wash over the sand and the sea otters play, we can do our part to help keep this incredible place as gorgeous, healthy, and wild as it is today for years to come. In this …

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Snapshot Cal Coast 2021: Calling All Community Scientists to Document Morro Bay’s Diversity

    Most of California, and the entire California coast, is identified as a Global Biodiversity Hotspot, called the California Floristic Province. Like the other Global Hotspots, this area has a high number of species that are endemic, meaning that they are native to this area and are found nowhere else. Every year, The California Academy of Sciences (CAS) asks people to document this extreme biodiversity through a bioblitz event called Snapshot Cal Coast. During the bioblitz, citizen scientists use iNaturalist to document all of the flora and fauna that they find in a specific coastal location. This year, the sixth …

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Field Updates May 2021: Spring Eelgrass Monitoring

Makenzie, our Monitoring Projects Coordinator, at our site located on the Sandspit. Staff access the site via stand up paddle boards

  A quick introduction… Hi everyone! My name is Bret, and I am the new Monitoring Projects Manager for the Estuary Program. I’m a recent transplant from the Midwest, but the West Coast has been calling to me for quite some time. As I get settled here in Morro Bay, I look forward to learning more about our estuary as well as how to be a steward of our watershed. I arrived in Morro Bay at the beginning of April, just in time for bioassessment (you can read more about bioassessment in our April Field Updates blog post). I really …

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Photograph Friday: Wildlife in the Morro Bay Estuary Watershed

An adult California newt stands on rocks in a stream in the Morro Bay estuary watershed. It is orange with yellow eyes.

  Morro Bay estuary and watershed provide habitat for a wide range of species You never know what amazing wildlife you’ll see in, on, or around the Morro Bay estuary. This area is a biological diversity hot spot, meaning that we have a wide range of species that are native to this area, including some species that are found nowhere else in the world, like the Morro kangaroo rat and the Morro manzanita. Morro Bay Estuary and Watershed Biodiversity Project on iNaturalist To get an idea of the range of species that live in the Morro Bay estuary and surrounding …

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MORRO BAY WATERSHED NATIVE PLANT SERIES: Estuarine and Salt Marsh

    Our final post in the Morro Bay Watershed Native Plant series will explore the estuarine and salt marsh plant communities that make up the unique estuarine environment of Morro Bay. Not sure what a plant community is? Take a look at our introductory post to the Morro Bay Native Plant Series, an exploration of our watershed’s diverse native flora! Relationship between the estuary and salt marsh An estuary is a place where freshwater meets the sea. In Morro Bay, the freshwater creeks and streams from our watershed drain into and mix with the salty seawater of the bay. …

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