Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
Blog Posts

Field Updates August 2018: Monitoring Eelgrass Restoration Plots in Morro Bay

This eelgrass plot, transplanted in March of 2017, is thriving.

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of hard work in the field. At the Estuary Program, that often means spending time doing research, restoration, and monitoring work out on the water. Read on to see what we’ve been up to during the past month. This past spring, we were busy planting eelgrass. We planted just over 3,000 eelgrass shoots throughout the estuary. We chose transplant sites where naturally occurring eelgrass was found nearby. The five transplant locations in 2018 represented a range of conditions throughout the …

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Opt Outside this Fall with Hikes Around Morro Bay

A view from the Elfin Forest during the summer.

    The land that surrounds the Morro Bay estuary is contoured by hills and valleys, studded with trees, and etched by creeks that take their time winding down to the salt marsh and entering bay. In short, it is a beautiful place that offers many opportunities to get outside and explore. But, as summer winds down, students head back to school, and the sun starts to set earlier in the day, many of us spend more time inside than out. Studies show that making time to enjoy the natural spaces around us by hiking, walking, or even just visiting …

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Photograph Friday: The Little Things

There is a whole world in a few drops of water from the bay. This photograph shows plankton from a water sample under a microscope.

  In her recent blog post, Executive Director Lexie Bell discussed the detail-oriented nature of our work at the Estuary Program. “We deal in parts per million of analytes in water, concentrations of bacteria, and blades of eelgrass,” she said. “But in the end, we want this bay to remain a beautiful place of light and inspiration, a place to connect with the Earth and each other. We are preserving the opportunity for countless future experiences of awe.” Sometimes, it is those details—the curve of a blade of eelgrass, the shape of plankton under a microscope, or the abundance of …

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Upward Bound Students Impress With Estuary Program Projects

Students pose with their finished prototype during the post-presentation reception.

  One of our goals at the Estuary Program is to engage students in learning about the bay, its wildlife, and the challenges that face it. The more they understand and appreciate the estuary, the more likely they are to help keep it healthy and clean. We often go into classrooms, host students in our Nature Center, and take small groups of students on field trips around the bay. This July, we were privileged to work with students in a new capacity, by participating as clients in Cal Poly’s Upward Bound Summer Academy. This program combines classes in math and …

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From the Director’s Desk: Finding Inspiration on Morro Bay

Lexie Bell, Executive Director of the Morro Bay National Estuary Program.

    From the Director’s Desk is a twice-yearly blog series, written by Executive Director Lexie Bell. Lexie plans and directs the program’s work, and collaborates with the Estuary Program’s many partners to expand our collective success in the watershed.  Lexie first began working in Morro Bay as a graduate student at the UC Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. Her graduate work analyzed the economic impact of visitors’ perceptions of environmental quality in Morro Bay. In addition to her Master’s degree, Lexie graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and Biology. …

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Field Updates July 2018: Reports, Mollusks in Eelgrass, and Fish in the Creeks

We commonly spot this nudibranch, Hermissenda crassicornis, in depressions along the mudflat.

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of hard work in the field. At the Estuary Program, that often means spending time doing research and monitoring work out on the water. Read on to see what we’ve been up to during the past month. Data and reporting July was a quiet month for fieldwork. This has given the monitoring staff time to get caught up on data entry and report writing. Keep an eye out for a series of reports related to the health of the estuary …

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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: California Sea Lions in the Estuary

Sea lions took to the new dock right away.

  California sea lions are the largest and fastest marine mammal that live year-round in Morro Bay. They can weigh as much as 860 pounds and swim as fast as 25 miles per hour. They also have between 34 and 38 formidable teeth, including four long canines. They use their teeth to catch their prey, but not to chew it. They swallow their food, mostly fish and squid, whole. Morro Bay’s sea lions have their own dock Sea lions like to rest out of the water on docks or even boats. In a busy harbor like Morro Bay, this habit …

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Shark Week 2018: Help Scientists Track these Essential Predators

  When you think about sharks, what comes to mind? Chances are, you’ll picture a tall, angular fin cutting through the waves and rows upon rows of sharp teeth. You might even picture a shark attack from the movies, with people fleeing up the beach and away from the waterline. It’s less likely that you’ll picture one of the three sharks that thrive in Morro Bay’s protected waters, the swell shark, leopard shark, and horn shark. These diminutive sharks are not the stuff of horror movies, unless you’re a small fish, clam, innkeeper worm, crab, or any of the other mollusks …

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Photograph Friday: Morro Bay Beneath the Surface

  Most of us see only what happens on or above the surface of Morro Bay. We spend time watching the ripples and white caps move across the water, sailboats slip by, and sea otters floating while they rest. We look up at Morro Rock to watch peregrine falcons bring food to their chicks, or to see the fog roll in and encompass it almost entirely.   Not as many of us get to see what happens below the water’s reflective edge. Estuary Program staff are some of the lucky people who get that view. They’ll catch a glimpse of …

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Field Update June 2018: Eelgrass

One new location is across from State Park Marina.

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of field work. At the Estuary Program, that often means spending time doing research and monitoring on the water. Read on to see what we’ve been up to during June 2018.  In 2017, we collaborated with researchers at CalPoly on two small-scale, experimental eelgrass restoration projects. Based on what we learned from that effort, we conducted another round in February and March of 2018. In 2018, we planted eelgrass in five locations—our original location in the forebay near channel marker …

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