Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
Blog Posts

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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May is for Bay: victory garden and composting

May is for the bay! All month we have been looking into ways to be more environmentally friendly, so that our bay stays healthy and beautiful. In these interesting times, many of us have been dedicating more of our time to gardening. I personally am excited to eat my yummy tomatoes! Did you know you can make your own environmentally friendly fertilizer at home by composting kitchen scraps?  Something that can easily be done at home? Yay!   Protect your bay! Compost!  How does composting help the environment?  By composting, you can redirect up to thirty percent of your waste from the landfill, where it would either rot or mummify, back to the earth where it can nourish new life. By diverting your …

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Estuary Program Career Profile: Monitoring Coordinator Makenzie O’Connor

    Towards the latter end of my high school years, I had a very precise vision of where my life was headed. I would finish all of my courses in the top percentile, leading me to my undergraduate studies at UC Santa Cruz, where I would pursue my Bachelor’s degree, and later, my career in Marine Biology. I would be an active member of the farming community and make a life for myself along the Santa Cruz coast. As far as I was concerned, there was no other option. Life, on the other hand, had different things in store …

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Hike from Home: Shark Inlet Hike

The trail to Shark Inlet is a hidden gem, known among the locals for its accessibility to the dunes. It is a short family friendly stroll that has lots of beautiful vegetation along the way. Here is what you have to look forward to once this time passes and we’re all able to get back out on the trail.   This trail is short, but lovely! Here is a map of the trail.  Finding the trail head  Pretend you are heading from San Luis Obispo toward Montana de Oro on Los Osos Valley Road, then turn right onto Monarch Lane. You’ll take Monarch Lane until it ends and the trail-head is right there.  This is what the start of the trail looks like. Since this hike starts in …

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April Showers Bring May Flowers

The rain has passed and now we are in an ever-blooming spring. When thinking of spring, most folks think of flowers. And boy, oh boy, do we have loads of wildflowers in SLO County! Even though we  can’t go out and enjoy them as much as we did last spring, we can at least admire some photos from our archives.  Some of the flowers popping up this time of year are native,  while others are nonnative, or even invasive. Get ready folks, put on your flower focus face you are about to feel wildly educated!   First, let’s start with the basics, what is a native plant versus a nonnative or invasive one?  A native plant is one that originates from the area where it is currently growing. For example, if we take our native California poppy and plant it in Florida, …

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