Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
estuary program

Creeks to Coast Cleanup Success in Morro Bay

    No matter how far inland we live, we’re all connected to the ocean by water. Rain washes downhill and into stormdrains, creeks, and rivers before entering the sea. So, if we’re going to keep plastics, other harmful debris, and pollutants out of the estuary and ocean, we have to start inland. That’s the idea behind the Creeks to Coast cleanup, a set of 49 cleanups organized by local nonprofit ECOSLO. This massive cleanup effort took place last weekend all across San Luis Obispo County on International Coastal Cleanup Day. During the course of three hours,  1,840 volunteers picked …

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Cuesta College dives in to help study eelgrass declines in Morro Bay

    A guest post by Dauphiene Parks During June 2019, a group of fourteen spirited Cuesta College Marine Microbiology students came together under the kind and careful guidance of professors Laurie McConnico and Silvio Favoreto. The mission was to explore the Morro Bay Estuary and examine the local eelgrass population. We quickly learned that 97% of the eelgrass in the Morro Bay Estuary has been lost, and that eelgrass habitats can provide an estimated $87,000 in ecosystem services annually. We were excited to be a part of this class that allowed us to earn college credit and work on a …

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Floodplain Restoration Project Sneak Peek in Photographs

Heavy machinery for regrading.

    Estuary Program staff and many of our partners, including the California Conservation Corps, the Watershed Stewards Program, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, have been hard at work on a large-scale floodplain restoration project in the Morro Bay watershed. This Labor Day, we are sharing a few photographs from the project site to celebrate the efforts of everyone involved in this project. From those with their boots on the ground to those involved in the land purchase, planning, and permitting processes, every single person who has worked on this longterm endeavor has contributed something essential. We …

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Twenty-Five Years After the Highway 41 Fire of August 1994

The smoke plume grows as the Highway 41 fire spreads. Photograph by Ruth Ann Angus, August 1994.

  Watching the Highway 41 Fire from the Morro Bay estuary On August 14, 1994, the Highway 41 fire broke out on the Cuesta Grade. Ruth Ann Angus, local photographer, writer, and long-time supporter of the Estuary Program, was out kayaking on the bay with a friend when the Highway 41 blaze began. As Ruth Ann recalls, “We paddled all the way back to Sweet Springs and as we turned around there, I spotted the puff of smoke in the sky. I knew it was bad so we immediately began paddling back to the Marina area….” She took photos on …

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The truth about sunscreen: its effects on us and the environment

Summer is coming in hot! Iced tea, pool days, and movie nights are fast approaching. With all the excitement that comes with summer, you might not be thinking about the invention that allows our skin to survive the brutal rays of the sun—sunscreen. Whether you are a fan of old-school white goop or spray-on, most sunscreens are made out of the same basic ingredients. The main difference lies in how the active ingredients work to keep you from burning. There are two types of sunscreen, chemical sunscreen and mineral sunscreen, which is also known as physical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreen vs. …

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Document Morro Bay’s Biodiversity During Snapshot Cal Coast

    Most of California, and the entire California coast, is identified as a Global Biodiversity Hotspot, called the California Floristic Province. Like the other Global Hotspots, this area has a high number of species that are endemic, meaning that they are native to this area and are found nowhere else. Every year, The California Academy of Sciences (CAS) asks people to document this extreme biodiversity through a bioblitz event called Snapshot Cal Coast. During the bioblitz, citizen scientists use iNaturalist to document all of the flora and fauna that they find in a specific coastal location. This year, Snapshot Cal Coast …

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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: Mystery Species Revealed

Mystery species number 1

  In last week’s post, we shared photographs of four species native to San Luis Obispo County and asked you to identify them. Today’s post reveals all four mystery species and shares information about each one. Wildlife Spotlight: Mystery species #1 Common salp (Salpa fusiformis) These ethereal-looking creatures are sometimes mistaken for jellyfish, but they are much more complex. In fact, they are more closely related to humans than they are to jellies. This is because, as larvae, salps have a simple backbone called a notochord, which is composed of a tissue similar to cartilage. Though the notochord all but …

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Get Ready for Clean Boating on Morro Bay

  With the spring winds whipping along the Embarcadero and whitecaps on the bay, summer might seem far away. But, in just a couple of months, school will let out and prime boating season will begin. Helping boaters keep our bay clean This fall, the Morro Bay Harbor Department distributed kits that included spill prevention, containment, and response materials to all 27 boat-docking stations along Morro Bay’s shoreline. These kits make it easier for boaters to avoid spilling oil and other hazardous materials into the estuary. They also provide instructions, personal protection equipment, and cleanup materials that enable boaters and …

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The Red-Throated Loon and Pacific Wildlife Care

We found this injured bird, which we later discovered was a red-throated loon, lying injured on the wet sand of Morro Strand Beach.

    Guest post by Charlotte Ross Charlotte Ross is a third-year journalism student at Cal Poly. In addition to her major, she is working toward dual minors, one in Spanish and the other in Biology with a concentration in Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation. Charlotte would like to pursue a career in travel and wildlife reporting so that she can surround herself in nature and see the beauty of the world while writing about it. Outside of work and school, she likes spending time at the beach, hiking, traveling, playing with her dog or chameleon, and watching the sunset in …

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Chorro Creek: home to steelhead and voracious non-native pikeminnow

Sacramento pikeminnow are a non-native voracious predator found in Chorro Creek. This pikeminnow is an adult that is about 20 inches long.

  Guest post by Ken Jarrett, Fisheries Biologist Ken Jarrett’s interest in fisheries biology began at an early age while fishing in the Sierras, the Central Valley, and in San Francisco Bay. He began his career in Alaska and has slowly worked his way south to California’s Central Coast. Although Ken works with many fish species, steelhead have captured his heart. He is currently working in several Central Coast watersheds including the Salinas River, Santa Rosa Creek, San Luis Obispo Creek, and Chorro Creek. In his spare time, you can find Ken playing with his two daughters or fishing for …

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