Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
estuary program

Field Updates October 2018: bioassessment scouting, Pismo Preserve, sharing data, and getting ready for rain

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and wildlife requires a lot of hard work in the field. At the Estuary Program, that often entails doing research, restoration, and monitoring work out on the estuary and along the creeks that feed into it. Read on to see what we’ve been up to during the past month. Scouting a new bioassessment site on Camp SLO Monitoring Coordinators Tim and Karissa ventured out to upper Chorro Creek, on Camp SLO property, to scout out new locations for conducting bioassessment surveys. This site would help …

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2018 Volunteers of the Year

    The Morro Bay National Estuary Program, like many nonprofits, relies on volunteers who generously donate their time and expertise. Volunteers make up our governing board and committees, reach out to students at events and in classrooms, collect and analyze water samples, transplant eelgrass, and keep our Mutts for the Bay dog waste bag dispensers stocked and ready. Estuary Program volunteerism by the numbers During the past year: Volunteers spent 156 hours working to restore eelgrass to Morro Bay and another 27 hours on other restoration work in the watershed. 55 people volunteered through our Monitoring Program, spending 805 …

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FIELD UPDATES SEPTEMBER 2018: Fish Surveys, Fish Habitat, and Sharing What We’ve Learned

We observed this juvenile steelhead trout during a fish survey on Chorro Creek.

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and wildlife requires a lot of hard work in the field. At the Estuary Program, that often entails doing research, restoration, and monitoring work out on the estuary and along the creeks that feed into it. Read on to see what we’ve been up to during the past month. Fish surveys Our field highlight for September was heading out with Stillwater Sciences and volunteers to complete fish surveys in Chorro Creek. We conducted fish sampling, a process of catching, identifying, measuring, and releasing fish, that …

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Native Plant Series #5: Riparian

    This series of native plant blog posts has explored the different plants found throughout the Morro Bay watershed. A watershed is an area where freshwater creeks and streams flow from higher ground down towards the ocean. Riparian zone plants reach deep when streams run dry In the Morro Bay Watershed, some creeks and streams flow year round, and some don’t. Even though they’re not full of water, dry creek beds are still bordered by vegetation. This is due to the presence of groundwater, which is water that exists beneath Earth’s surface in soil pore spaces (the space between …

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Photograph Friday: The Little Things

There is a whole world in a few drops of water from the bay. This photograph shows plankton from a water sample under a microscope.

  In her recent blog post, Executive Director Lexie Bell discussed the detail-oriented nature of our work at the Estuary Program. “We deal in parts per million of analytes in water, concentrations of bacteria, and blades of eelgrass,” she said. “But in the end, we want this bay to remain a beautiful place of light and inspiration, a place to connect with the Earth and each other. We are preserving the opportunity for countless future experiences of awe.” Sometimes, it is those details—the curve of a blade of eelgrass, the shape of plankton under a microscope, or the abundance of …

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From the Director’s Desk: Finding Inspiration on Morro Bay

Lexie Bell, Executive Director of the Morro Bay National Estuary Program.

    From the Director’s Desk is a twice-yearly blog series, written by Executive Director Lexie Bell. Lexie plans and directs the program’s work, and collaborates with the Estuary Program’s many partners to expand our collective success in the watershed.  Lexie first began working in Morro Bay as a graduate student at the UC Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. Her graduate work analyzed the economic impact of visitors’ perceptions of environmental quality in Morro Bay. In addition to her Master’s degree, Lexie graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and Biology. …

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Shark Week 2018: Help Scientists Track these Essential Predators

  When you think about sharks, what comes to mind? Chances are, you’ll picture a tall, angular fin cutting through the waves and rows upon rows of sharp teeth. You might even picture a shark attack from the movies, with people fleeing up the beach and away from the waterline. It’s less likely that you’ll picture one of the three sharks that thrive in Morro Bay’s protected waters, the swell shark, leopard shark, and horn shark. These diminutive sharks are not the stuff of horror movies, unless you’re a small fish, clam, innkeeper worm, crab, or any of the other mollusks …

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Field Updates April and May 2018: Bioassessment Monitoring and New Team Members

Monitoring team works in the middle of the creek.

    Bioassessment Monitoring Each spring, the Estuary Program conducts bioassessment monitoring throughout the Morro Bay Watershed. Bioassessment monitoring is an important tool that allows us to assess the health of local streams to determine their value as fish habitat. This monitoring involves collecting macroinvertebrates, insects visible to the naked eye, and taking measurements of things like water depth and canopy cover that tell us about the health of the creek. Check out this blog post to learn more about what bioassessment monitoring tells us about the health of our local creeks. Our bioassessment season kicked off on Saturday, April …

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The Morro Bay Watershed Native Plant Series

    The Morro Bay watershed is one of the most botanically diverse regions in California. This diversity can be traced back to the ice ages as California’s coastline receded and advanced over thousands of years, and the tectonic plates settled into their current position. Many communities and species of plants have evolved here as a result of such active geologic change. These plant communities have continued to exist and thrive because San Luis Obispo County still resembles its natural state, despite increasing human habitation and land use development. Because the natural areas of Morro Bay have been so well …

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Field Updates January 2018

    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 what our staff and volunteers have been up to during the first month of 2018! Eelgrass Monitoring We started the new year by monitoring the eelgrass we transplanted in March and July of 2017.  With the help of Cal Poly, including graduate student Erin Aiello, we have been monitoring these plots regularly …

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