Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
eelgrass

Happy New Year: Your Top Blog Posts of 2021

Nick, our new Monitoring Coordinator, carefully sifts through eelgrass wrack and green algae to count eelgrass shoots at State Park Marina.

  Happy new year, blog readers! We hope that 2022 is off to a wonderful start for you. Today, we’re sharing some of our most popular posts from 2021. If you haven’t read them yet, now’s a great time to catch up! Top Field Work Post Field Updates September 2021: Eelgrass Wrack For more recent eelgrass information, visit our eelgrass archives. Top Wildlife Posts New Undescribed Nudibranchs! Two New-to-Science Sea Slugs Recently Spotted on the California Coast. Top Naturalist Knowledge Posts Morro Bay Native Plant Series, posts 1 through 6 This series of posts covers six habitats that you can …

Continue Reading

From the Director’s Desk: Stepping Down and Gratitude for Our Community

    Written by Lexie Bell, Executive Director of the Morro Bay National Estuary Program. On December 28, I will step down as Executive Director of the Morro Bay National Estuary Program after twelve years at the organization and six years in this role. I will be taking an administrative position at Cuesta College and look forward to continuing to engage in the stewardship of our watershed as a supporting community member.   Over the past decade, the Estuary Program has worked together as a community to achieve lasting conservation results. We have protected 2,300 acres and restored more than …

Continue Reading

2021 Morro Bay National Estuary Program Volunteer Recognition

Volunteer appreciation hike 2021

Thank you volunteers! As the end of the calendar year sneaks up on us, our staff here at the Estuary Program want to take a moment to reflect on those who make an impact on our work and within our local community. While the past year has been a tumultuous one, our volunteers have been able to continue their monthly monitoring, amidst changes to local COVID-19 guidelines, our policies and our protocols. During 2021, our volunteer monitoring program contributed over 230 hours to water quality monitoring and bacteria sampling in the estuary and in our local creeks. We are incredibly …

Continue Reading

EELGRASS HABITAT REBOUNDING IN MORRO BAY ESTUARY

Eelgrass monitoring_landscape_with person_Morro Bay National Estuary Program

    146 acres of eelgrass and growing! We are excited to announce that eelgrass habitat in Morro Bay has expanded dramatically. In 2017, there were only thirteen acres of eelgrass left in the bay. However, our most-recent map, created with aerial images taken in 2020, shows 146 acres of eelgrass habitat. If you have been out on the water lately or taken a bayside walk, you’ve likely seen the increased amount of eelgrass wrack along the shoreline of the estuary. This is because many areas where eelgrass had died off previously now support healthy eelgrass meadows. Eelgrass habitat recovery …

Continue Reading

Field Updates November 2021: Eelgrass Monitoring Behind the Scenes

Morro Rock and a dense eelgrass bed at sunset

    Eelgrass Monitoring Season  Our annual fall eelgrass monitoring process is underway, contributing new data to our efforts to track the health of this valuable natural resource. During the low tide window in early November, the Estuary Program teamed up with several members of the Watershed Stewards Program to visit specific sites in eelgrass beds across the bay and measure the density of eelgrass shoots. By visiting the same sites each year, we can see how the eelgrass beds change over time. Data collected by the Estuary Program in previous years documented a steady decline in eelgrass from 2007 to 2017 as well as a small resurgence that began in 2019. Based on our observations so far, it appears that eelgrass continues to reclaim lost acreage, …

Continue Reading

Updates from the Field, September 2021: Eelgrass wrack

Eelgrass wrack

  What’s that washed up on the beach?  Those who spend time in and around Morro Bay may have seen a recent increase in eelgrass washed up near local coastal access points like Pasadena Point, Tidelands Park, or State Park Marina. This washed-up seagrass is known as wrack, and can often accumulate to form a distinctive “wrack-line” along beaches.   Here at the Estuary Program, we’ve had numerous local reports about the increase in wrack. People are asking whether the eelgrass is dying, and whether they should be alarmed at the amount of wrack washing up. Local meteorologist, John Lindsey recently addressed this increase in an article for the San Luis Obispo Tribune.  Why is there …

Continue Reading

Field Updates May 2021: Spring Eelgrass Monitoring

Makenzie, our Monitoring Projects Coordinator, at our site located on the Sandspit. Staff access the site via stand up paddle boards

  A quick introduction… Hi everyone! My name is Bret, and I am the new Monitoring Projects Manager for the Estuary Program. I’m a recent transplant from the Midwest, but the West Coast has been calling to me for quite some time. As I get settled here in Morro Bay, I look forward to learning more about our estuary as well as how to be a steward of our watershed. I arrived in Morro Bay at the beginning of April, just in time for bioassessment (you can read more about bioassessment in our April Field Updates blog post). I really …

Continue Reading

Field Updates March 2021: Volunteer Monitoring Program Updates and Bioassessment Site Scouting

Monitoring staff conducts bioassessment site scouting in the Morro Bay watershed

  Read each month’s Field Updates post to see what our Monitoring Team have been up to.  Updates on the Volunteer Monitoring Program As of March 2nd 2021, San Luis Obispo County moved from the purple or “Widespread” tier back into the red tier. The Morro Bay National Estuary Program’s current COVID-19 Safety Policy allows for volunteer monitoring when the San Luis Obispo County risk level is at or below the red tier designation, as outlined by COVID19.ca.gov. As such, the Estuary Program has slowly begun inviting back volunteers in a limited capacity. We have coupled this change with additional …

Continue Reading

Updates from the Field: Monitoring Eelgrass Expansion

Makenzie, Monitoring Coordinator, takes data while monitoring eelgrass in Morro Bay.

    The Morro Bay National Estuary Program’s fieldwork has been deemed an essential service by the County of San Luis Obispo. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, we are not working with volunteers at this time and our field staff are following updated monitoring protocols. We look forward to working with volunteers and other community members again as soon as it is safe for us to do so. Thank you, readers, for staying engaged and supporting the Estuary Program’s work on monitoring eelgrass expansion and other projects during this difficult time.  Green, green, everywhere! If you’ve been out on the …

Continue Reading

Field Updates January 2021: Wildlife, Rainfall, and Flow Monitoring

A San Diego Dorid in eelgrass.

    The Morro Bay National Estuary Program’s fieldwork has been deemed an essential service by the County of San Luis Obispo. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, we are not working with volunteers at this time and our field staff are following updated monitoring protocols. We look forward to working with volunteers and other community members again as soon as it is safe for us to do so. Thank you, readers, for staying engaged and supporting the Estuary Program’s work during this difficult time.  What’s Living in the Eelgrass? Estuary Program staff have continued to monitor eelgrass into January 2021, …

Continue Reading