Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
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Field Updates October 2021: First Rain, Groundwater Recharge, and Runoff

A full stream runs after the October 2021s storm.

First rain! The Morro Bay watershed received its first rainfall for the new water year on October 24! A local rain gauge at Canet Road off Highway 1 in the Morro Bay watershed recorded 2.32 inches of rainfall over a three-day period. Local rain gauge network The Estuary Program has a local rain gauge network that compiles rainfall data and tracks hyper-local trends. This network relies on citizen scientists to gather rainfall data from their yards, schools, businesses, offices, or any outside space where a small rain gauge can sit undisturbed and collect the rain. If you’re not already a …

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Sea Otter Awareness Week Quiz

A discriminating eye can identify photos of sea otters that feature natural, undisturbed behaviors. Photo credit Gena Bentall Taken from shore, from 60 meters away, with 300mm zoom. Naps disturbed = 0.

  You might have admired sea otters near Coleman Beach, Morro Rock, or the South T-pier, but how much do you know about Morro Bay’s furriest residents? Since it’s both Sea Otter Awareness Week and National Estuaries Week, it’s a good time to test your knowledge with this quick quiz. (Scroll to the bottom of the blog post for the answers and more fun sea otter information.) Sea Otter Quiz (Scroll down to find the answers to this quiz and more sea otter facts.) How many hairs do sea otters have per square inch of their bodies? Up to 10,000 …

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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: Pyrosoma atlanticum

Copyright Morro Bay National Estuary Program. A child looks at a something they've never seen before on the beach. It is a Pyrosoma atlanticum.

When you visit a beach on California’s Central Coast, you can expect to find certain kinds of organic debris washed ashore. Long, ropy, stalks of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) amass in muted green piles at the high tide line. Knotted lengths of driftwood, smoothed by the rough waves, stud the sand. Bone-white sand dollars adorn wavy lines of seafoam, looking like treasure to beach-going kids. You’ll find the occasional moon jelly of by-the-wind sailor, which are stranding more often this summer due to the prevailing winds and ocean currents. And, on rare occasion, you’ll happen upon something you’ve never seen before. …

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Photograph Friday: drought and big storms around the Morro Bay estuary

In the heavy rains of March 2018, the willows and other plants in the restored flood plain at Twin Bridges along with the wide expanse of salt marsh at the waters edge gave the rushing runoff a place to slow down and sink in. Without these natural spaces, flood waters continue on toward the bay in full force and the possibility of increased erosion and damage to infrastructure rises.

    Today, we’re sharing photos that depict drought and large storms, two extremes that are expected to occur more frequently on California’s central coast due to climate change. Historic drought The 2021 water year, which began on October 1, 2020, has been historically dry. The California Department of Water Resources expressed concern about the dry winter conditions back in January 2021. In his Weather Watch column, John Lindsey tackled the future of drought across the state in June 2021, and the Central Coast’s quick dive from a state of Severe Drought to Extreme Drought in July 2021. Big storms …

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MORRO BAY WATERSHED NATIVE PLANT SERIES: Coast Live Oak Woodlands

  Coast Live Oak Woodlands Are Unique Oak woodlands are so characteristic and unique to our state that many think the plant community should be declared California’s state vegetation type. 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! The term “woodland” is used instead of “forest” because the canopies in a woodland rarely overlap, allowing for more space and sunlight between trees. Woodlands also typically occur on drier soils and at lower elevations than forests. Where to find oak …

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The recycling world is plastic (malleable) it’s time for an update!

How is California doing with recycling?  If you’re wondering how California is doing with recycling, the short answer is, not very well. Because of California’s location on the West Coast, the state has depended heavily on selling recyclables to China. Since China put the National Sword Policy into action in 2017, the U.S. has been struggling to support the recycling system and keep it from crumbling. For those of you who haven’t read our first blog on the business of recycling, we recommend reading it first, it will blow your recycling mind!   A National Sword Policy Refresher  As a refresher, here is a quick summary of the National Sword policy. The U.S. has been dependent on China buying our …

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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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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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Native Plant Series #4: Coast Live Oak Woodlands

    Oak woodlands are so characteristic and unique to our state that many think the plant community should be declared California’s state vegetation type. 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! The term “woodland” is used instead of “forest” because the canopies in a woodland rarely overlap, allowing for more space and sunlight between trees. Woodlands also typically occur on drier soils and at lower elevations than forests. While oak woodlands occur in other states, most of …

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Field Updates March 2018: Eelgrass Transplanting and Sediment Sampling

No, that’s not a grass skirt. That is 25 eelgrass rhizomes tied onto rebar, ready to be planted.

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 the progress that our staff and volunteers have made in our eelgrass work during March of 2018.  Eelgrass In the last few months, you might have seen our staff and volunteers in waders at Coleman Beach or trudging through the mud in the back bay during the last few months. They have been busy …

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