Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
Guest post

Meet the SLO Steelhead Initiative Watershed Stewards Program Corps Members

Installation of erosion control fabric to stabilize the left bank of a restoration project in the Santa Rosa Creek Watershed.

Our names are Ryan Blaich and Natt McDonough, and we served as Watershed Stewards Program (WSP) Corps Members under the San Luis Obispo Steelhead Initiative from September 2020 through August 2021. The Watershed Stewards Program is a special program offered through a partnership between the California Conservation Corps and AmeriCorps. WSP Corps Members, like us, work to enhance the health of local watersheds throughout California for the conservation and preservation of anadromous fish species, like steelhead trout and salmon. Life cycle of anadromous fish Anadromous fish are those that hatch and spend their juvenile years in freshwater streams and rivers. …

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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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Cleaning Up Trash On Morro Bay’s Beaches: A Volunteer’s Story

Bar cans crushed and shoved between rocks in the rip rap.

Guest Post by Lily Newton Keeping local beaches clean and beautiful When I first moved to the Central Coast area a little over two years ago, one of the first things that struck me was how scenic and clean the local beaches were. Looking back now, the Texas Gulf Coast beaches that I had grown up visiting were a far cry from pristine, often cluttered with plastic waste and suffering from many other signs of damage from frequent use. Now that I call Los Osos and Morro Bay home, keeping this area as scenic and beautiful as it was when …

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San Luis Obispo County’s Stealth Trees—Our Native Conifers

Monterey Pine

Guest post by Chris Hamma, biography below. San Luis Obispo County’s Stealth Trees—Our Native Conifers Overview of the trees of San Luis Obispo County In many ways, San Luis Obispo County is a throwback to “Old California,” with its beautiful landscapes of oak woodlands, chaparral, and grassland. If asked to describe the county’s flora, many of us might not think to mention… conifer forests? Though our county’s coast ranges are home to a variety of native coniferous trees, for the most part, they’re overshadowed by our more prolific native species. Our iconic oaks—coast live oak, valley oak, blue oak—virtually define …

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Tarantula Math: Where folklore meets meteorology

    Written by Makenzie O’Connor, Morro Bay National Estuary Program Monitoring Coordinator. Tarantula Math: Where folklore meets meteorology As someone relatively new to the Central Coast, I was entirely perplexed and intrigued by the concept of what our Monitoring Program Manager, Karissa Willits, calls: “Tarantula Math.” The phrase itself was exciting—partially because I never anticipated that “tarantula” and “math” would be in the same sentence, and partially because I couldn’t help but envision these furry, intelligent arachnids solving complex calculus equations. For those unfamiliar with “tarantula math,” this is the assumption that rain should follow tarantula sightings within three …

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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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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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A Sea Slug by Any Other Name, Guest Post by Robin Agarwal

Acanthodoris lutea nudibranch smells like citrus or cedar

This is the fifth post in our Sea Slug of the Month series by guest author, Robin Agarwal. A Sea Slug by Any Other Name: One Grossly Derivative Title Covering Three Random Thoughts About Scented Sea Slugs, Hopkins’s Rose, and the Ongoing Bother About Names “that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet” —Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare Although she was not particularly noted for her tidepool explorations, Juliet may have been surprised to discover that three of the nudibranchs (shell-less marine molluscs) living along the Central California Coast actually emit scents …

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Be Sea Otter Savvy 3: More Than Just a Pretty Face

Adult sea otter eats a purple urchin.

This is the third post to 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 and information about sea otters’ behavior, biology, and their role in the estuary and ocean ecosystems. When I was a little girl holding my mom’s hand on the shore in Pacific Grove in 1970, looking out at two sea otters rising and falling on a gentle swell, I knew them only from their faces in books. I knew nothing of the heroic …

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The “Smalls”: The Teeniest, Tiniest Sea Slugs In California

Guest post by Robin Agarwal   This is the fourth post in our Sea Slug of the Month series. Find tips for spotting nudibranchs from the comfort of your local dock at the end of this post! So you’ve been tidepooling along your local reefs and you’ve found a few nudibranchs: Opalescents, Sea Lemons, Spanish Shawls, Hopkins’s Rose, Triophas. Maybe you’ve practically tripped over ginormous squishy Sea Hares. Boring, right? What a snooze, all those flamboyant colors, shapes, and bizarre anatomy. After all, those nudibranchs are over an inch long, and therefore way too easy to find.  If this is …

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