Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
creek health

Bioassessment 2020: Highlights from the Season

Giant Water Bugs, also known as “Toe-Biters,” are large invertebrate predators with a powerful bite! Females typically deposit their eggs onto the males’ back, and the male “Toe-Biter” keeps the eggs safe until they hatch.

  As many of our readers and volunteers know, our spring bioassessment season is one of the major monitoring efforts of the year. We use a state-wide protocol that includes detailed habitat measurements and macroinvertebrate collection to assess creek health. Volunteers are an integral part of this effort. Our volunteers come to us from all walks of life, from seniors to college students and everything in between. We kick off the season with an orientation, and then volunteers join us on our surveys. Each season we usually have about 20 volunteers helping us monitor ten sites, collecting over 1,000 data points per site. Spring 2020: a …

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Bioassessment Survey Results 2019: Tracking the Health of Local Creeks

Two volunteers wear waders and dark red plaid shirts. The one on the left holds an algae-covered rock that is about 12 inches long. The volunteer on the right uses a red ruler to measure the width of the rock. The data that they collect will be used to calculate the overall bioassessment survey results for the year.

  What we learn from bioassessment survey results One of the goals of the Estuary Program is to monitor the bay and the lands that surround it to better understand conditions and how they are changing over time. As part of this effort, the Estuary Program conducts spring bioassessment surveys. This data allow us to assess the health of our creeks and determine if they support sensitive aquatic life. What we collect during bioassessment surveys Each spring, staff and volunteers head out to local creeks to collect habitat measurements such as the depth of the water, the size of the …

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Where is the water? Tracking water in our creeks

While pressure transducers and other automated equipment collect important data, much of our long-term dataset is collected by hand. Volunteers measure water quality each month by going out to creek or bay sites with equipment in hand. They take note of things like water temperature, dissolved oxygen content, and other measures that indicate creek health.

    Measuring the water level in local creeks gives us valuable data. We collect this data with pressure transducers. A pressure transducer is a water-level measuring device that we install by submerging it in the creek. It continuously measures the pressure of the water pushing down on it and converts it into a height measurement. These instruments can collect data for months or even years. Pressure transducers can be used in a wide range of applications, from weather stations, to flood control, to tracking reservoir water levels. We use these devices in our local creek systems to estimate how much …

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April Field Updates: Monitoring

At bioassessment training, volunteers learn how to collect data on water quality such as temperature, pH and oxygen levels.

Bioassessment Training We kicked off our spring bioassessment season with our annual training. We had 27 volunteers attend.     Bioassessment Surveys The field season is underway. Four of our eight surveys for the year have been completed with the assistance of 13 dedicated volunteers.                 Subscribe to get the Estuary Program’s blog delivered to your inbox each week!  Donate to help the Estuary Program protect and restore Morro Bay.    

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Clean Water, Great Life: Creek Water Quality Update

  The Morro Bay watershed, the area of land that drains into the estuary, is a special place. Our watershed’s creeks provide valuable habitat to aquatic life, including iconic steelhead. These fish are anadromous, meaning they are born in freshwater, such as our watershed creeks, and then venture out to the ocean. After several years in the ocean, they return to the creeks where they were born to spawn and continue the life cycle.   Here on the Central Coast, we are host to a distinct population of steelhead known as the South Central California Coast Steelhead.   The formerly …

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Monitoring the health of local creeks with bioassessment

Volunteer surveys stream

Each spring, Estuary Program staff and volunteers gear up for Bioassessment, an important monitoring tool that allows us to assess the health of local streams to determine their value as fish habitat. We conduct monitoring at creek sites throughout the Morro Bay watershed, which involves collecting macroinvertebrate or “macro” samples (insects that are visible to the naked eye) and taking measurements of the health of creek habitat. Here’s what a day of monitoring involves. Water quality monitoring Upon arriving at the site, we use water quality meters to collect information such as pH, temperature, turbidity, flow, and oxygen levels. Fish …

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