Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
Blog Posts

Cuesta College dives in to help study eelgrass declines in Morro Bay

    A guest post by Dauphiene Parks During June 2019, a group of fourteen spirited Cuesta College Marine Microbiology students came together under the kind and careful guidance of professors Laurie McConnico and Silvio Favoreto. The mission was to explore the Morro Bay Estuary and examine the local eelgrass population. We quickly learned that 97% of the eelgrass in the Morro Bay Estuary has been lost, and that eelgrass habitats can provide an estimated $87,000 in ecosystem services annually. We were excited to be a part of this class that allowed us to earn college credit and work on a …

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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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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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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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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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Photograph Friday: Red, White, and Blue

As 4th of July comes and goes let us take a moment to be thankful for our country. Maybe, go on a hike, take a trail that you haven’t done before. Enjoy the lush black sage found on Black Hill and the white wings of an egret as it soars above the bay. Take a kayak out to enjoy the crisp, cool, calm water of the bay. Red, White, and Blue of the Bay  In today’s post, we are celebrating independence day with nature’s own red, white and blue! Red This is an Indian paintbrush (Castilleja affinis) and even though …

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Mutts for Clean Water 2019 Photo Contest: A Dog’s Tale

The Estuary Program invites subject area experts to share their knowledge on topics important to the health of the Morro Bay estuary and watershed. Please enjoy the following guest blog post by Callie. Callie is a Boston terrier mix who is a self-taught expert in Scatology. She established her authority on the subject before her second birthday with the best-seller, To Poo is Canine, to Pick Up Divine. When Callie isn’t investigating droppings from other dogs and local wildlife, she enjoys long walks, playing fetch, holding two toys at once, and silently approving when her people pick up after her …

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