Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
estuary

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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Get Inspired by History: Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest 2019

A view of Morro Rock over a long stretch of dunes on the sandspit.

Every year, we hold a poetry contest that asks writers to focus on Morro Bay. Our haiku category theme is always the Morro Bay estuary, but our free verse theme changes each year. This year, we are asking writers to focus on local history. Writers could choose to focus on the geological forces that carved the bay, formed the sandspit, and shaped Morro Rock. Maybe the many thousands of years of annual bird migrations will spark their imaginations. Maybe the 10,000 years or more of human habitation along the estuary’s shores and across watershed will call to them. They might …

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The business of recycling: How international policy has changed what you can recycle at the curb in California

Plastic waste is compacted and bound together for transport.

  POP QUIZ!   Which of these items are recyclable? Paper coffee cups Styrofoam plates, cups, and bowls Receipts Find the answer at the end of the blog.   Did you struggle a little? If you did, that’s okay! It’s really hard to know what is recyclable, especially if you don’t know where to look. The guidelines change from county to county—even neighboring Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties differ in what they accept—and even more so from state to state. Why recycling guidelines aren’t standardized A lot of this variation is due to the fact that there are …

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Field Updates February 2019: Wet weather, eelgrass restoration, and creek monitoring

A picture from the bridge at our monitoring site on Canet Road, overlooking Chorro Creek. What a difference a week and some good rain storms will do!

    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 during this wet weather. Eelgrass February eelgrass restoration details This past month, we have been busy taking advantage of some of the year’s lowest tides to replant eelgrass throughout the estuary. The weather didn’t want to …

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Photograph Friday: Morro Baycam Captures Rainbow, Moonset, and Noctilucent Cloud

A rainbow arches over Morro Rock on a February morning.

    This Photograph Friday, we bring you some of our favorite photographs from this winter. Our Baycam captured boats and birds passing by, part of the lighted boat parade, a rainbow, and a fascinating weather phenomenon called a noctilucent cloud. (Scroll to the bottom of the post to watch a timelapse video that includes a moonset and the noctilucent cloud!) Boats Sunrise and Sunset Rain Cloud patterns Weather phenomena   Timelapse video Watch the timelapse video below to see the moon set, the sun rise, the afternoon roll by, and a rare noctilucent cloud flash across the sky just …

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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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Field Updates January 2019: Eelgrass, Stormy Monitoring, Wildlife

Once the water levels dropped to safe wading levels, we went out to check on equipment and measure stream flow on Pennington Creek. This is at the site that previously had a fish passage barrier. The barrier was removed over the fall, opening up miles of Pennington Creek for migrating steelhead trout. Partners at other organizations have seen returning adult steelhead in a few other creeks in the county, so we are keeping our eyes open for ones in our watershed as well.

    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. (Don’t miss the pictures of the creeks during our recent stormy weather!) Eelgrass January was a busy month for field staff. We started by completing our eelgrass permanent transect monitoring. We were excited to see a …

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Local painters celebrate the Central Coast and give back to Morro Bay

Bernie Kurtz's painting, Morro Bay Estuary, was inspired by the view of the sun reflecting off the water and backlighting the brush. She painted it at the corner of Main St. and South Bay Boulevard in Morro Bay.

  California’s Central Coast is full of beauty. Splashing and crashing back and forth, waves wear down rock formations along waterlines. Pelicans fly low, their wings still, gliding gracefully in line. Silvery morning light reflects off the back bay, illuminating the undersides of leaves and glowing through fog. The estuary channels snake through the salt marsh, appearing deep brown at low tide and shining white or blue when the water is high. The fiery red tips of pickleweed plants contrast with the cool green that surrounds them. A group of local artists called San Luis Outdoor Painters for the Environment (S.L.O.P.E.) …

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Factors that Affect Eelgrass Growth in Morro Bay #3: Sediment & Light Differences Part 1

The illustration above shows hands holding sand on the left and clay on the right.

  In the first two blog posts of the Factors that Affect Eelgrass Growth in Morro Bay series, we learned that there are many factors that influence eelgrass growth in estuaries. In this two-part post, PhD candidate Erin Aiello explores the importance of light and sediment properties and how they change across the bay. Erin Aiello, Guest Author Erin Aiello is a native of the central coast, having grown up in Cambria. She spent most of her childhood running barefoot through pine forests, which instilled in her an undying love of nature. Erin received her BS and MS degrees in …

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Factors That Affect Eelgrass Growth in Morro Bay #2: Biological Conditions and Human Factors

    There are a variety of physical, biological, and direct human factors that affect eelgrass growth in estuaries. We have partnered with researchers at Cal Poly and Cuesta College to better understand these conditions in Morro Bay. This blog series, Factors that Affect Eelgrass Growth in Morro Bay, highlights our partners’ research. This second post will introduce you to the biological conditions and human factors that can impact eelgrass in our estuary. You can find the first post on physical conditions that affect eelgrass here.   Biological conditions Disturbance caused by crabs Crabs can disturb eelgrass blades by clipping them. However, …

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