Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
climate change

20 ways you can be more environmentally friendly during the roaring eco-20s.  

As the month of New Year’s resolutions approaches the finish line, you might want to add more to your list! Here are twenty ways you can be more environmentally friendly during the roaring eco-20s.   1. I scream, you scream, we all scream for sunscreen! (Especially when we forget to put it on and find ourselves covered in sunburn.)  Do you know what type of sunscreen you use? There are two types of sunscreen, chemical and mineral sunscreen. Chemical sunscreen is now known to contribute to coral reef bleaching and potentially harming other wildlife through water contamination.  How do you know you have a chemical sunscreen? Look for these active ingredients listed on the bottle: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. If you have any of these in your sunscreen, that means it’s a chemical …

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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: Balls of Spines (AKA Sea Urchins)

  Is it a ball? Is it a Pokémon? Nope, it’s a sea urchin! Sea urchins, even though common, are really cool! In Morro Bay, there are mainly two species, purple sea urchin and red sea urchin. The biggest difference between the two is their size and color. Red sea urchins can reach up to five inches in diameter whereas purple sea urchins reach only two inches in diameter. The most common species is the pacific purple sea urchin, also known as Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Sea urchins use their spikes and poison as a defense mechanism. The poison is located at …

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Help Scientists See the Future: California King Tides Project 2020

windy cove king tide 2019

  What is the California King Tides Project? Scientists need you to be their eyes on the ocean between January 10–12 and February 8–9, 2020. On these dates, the California coast will experience the highest tides of the year, commonly called King Tides. These extreme tides often encroach on infrastructure, submerging coastal access stairways, swallowing beach-side trails, overwhelming boardwalks, surging into storm-drains, and flooding roads. They can also inundate coastal habitats that aren’t typically submerged, like higher marsh areas or even dune scrub. With the rate of sea level rise increasing worldwide, what we consider ultra-high tides today may be …

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Director’s Desk: #IHeartEstuaries 2019 in Morro Bay

Locals and visitors alike enjoy walking along the estuary at sunset.

    This week we are celebrating #IHeartEstuaries to highlight the value that estuaries play in our lives. How do you value our very own estuary, Morro Bay? Maybe you cherish early morning bird walks along the shore, evening paddles as the tide shifts underneath your oar, or the satisfaction of landing a fish off the T-pier. These personal moments are precious and palpable and drive much of our local community’s support for a clean and healthy bay. We also think beyond our watershed here at the Estuary Program—how important is our bay to our whole community? To our state …

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State of the Bay 2017: Eelgrass, Sedimentation, and Climate Change

  Our State of the Bay 2017 report contains data that the Estuary Program and our partners have collected over the years. We release this report every three years to answer common questions about the health of Morro Bay and its watershed. Last week’s blog post discussed the condition of water quality in the bay and creeks. This week, we address eelgrass, sedimentation, and climate change. Eelgrass: Tracking Current Conditions Eelgrass is a blooming underwater grass that puts down roots in sandy soils. Its long blades form an underwater forest, offering wildlife a place to rest, find food, and spawn. …

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Help Scientists See the Future in King Tides

The boat ramp was also inundated by the high water.

  At the Estuary Program office, tides rule much of our work. We plan our eelgrass monitoring surveys around them. We schedule our dawn patrol and bay bacteria volunteer sessions based on them. We watch as boats, birds, and marine mammals move with the pull of the high and low tides outside our office windows. King Tides are the highest tides of the year, and they demand extra attention. Before the boardwalk trail was built at the State Park marina, King Tides regularly inundated the dirt trail along the salt marsh’s edge. They raise docks to their uppermost limits and …

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How could climate change affect Morro Bay?

  The Estuary Program recently developed a climate vulnerability assessment for our estuary, which analyzes the likelihood and severity of climate change effects and presents an adaptation action plan to address them. When considering the possible impacts from climate change, we consulted climate change models, historic data, and local experts to prioritize the possible impacts and our adaptation strategies. This blog post summarizes some of the conclusions from the effort. Temperature rise According to EPA analysis, average global temperatures are expected to increase by between 2°F and 11.5°F by the year 2100, depending on future carbon emissions levels. The impacts …

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Birds and Morro Bay

  At least one billion birds migrate along the Pacific Flyway each year. (One billion birds!) Most of these birds migrate at night. They take off near sunset, moving together in groups that can be seen as large colorful swirls on Doppler radar. In the winter, thousands of these migrating birds make a much-needed stopover in Morro Bay, foraging for food and resting on and near its clean waters in order to conserve energy for the continuation of their journeys. The Estuary Program recently talked with Dave Tyra, President of the Morro Coast Audubon Society (MCAS) about Morro Bay’s birds. …

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