Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
estuary

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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Factors That Affect Eelgrass Growth in Morro Bay #1: Physical Conditions

    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 first post will introduce you to the physical conditions that can impact eelgrass in our estuary. Physical conditions that affect eelgrass growth Turbidity Eelgrass needs sufficient light to grow. Turbidity (a measurement of the cloudiness of water) can reduce the amount of light that is able …

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Field Updates November 2018: Eelgrass Monitoring and Rainfall Totals

    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. Eelgrass Monitoring In November, we went out and checked on all of our 2018 eelgrass restoration plots, as well as some planted in 2017. While we were out monitoring, we noticed lots of new patches of …

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Thankful in Morro Bay, 2018

Drone photograph of the Morro Bay estuary. Courtesy of Nic Stover, StoverPhoto.

  At the Estuary Program, we are grateful to have the opportunity to work collaboratively for the health of the Morro Bay estuary, its watershed, the wildlife that depend on it, and the people who love it. We are thankful for the many citizens, landowners, agencies, and organizations who make this work possible by funding, advising, volunteering, and otherwise participating in projects that benefit the bay. We asked local business owners, volunteers, and artists to share what they are thankful for in and around the Morro Bay estuary. Read on to see the many ways that the bay has touched …

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Photograph Friday: Baycam Favorites from Summer and Fall 2018

Sunsets over the bay can be bring both bright light and an abundance of long shadows.

  The Estuary Program’s Morro Bay webcam, or Baycam as we call it, has what some might consider the perfect job. No matter the day or the hour, it watches life unfold on the bay, without any particular goal in mind.  It observes the scene as clouds move, fog rolls in and out, the moon and sun chase each other across the sky, and boats bob and dance as the tides change. It sees every single sunrise and sunset, capturing photographs along the way. In today’s Photograph Friday post, we’ll share some of our favorite Baycam pictures from this summer …

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Native Plant Series #6: Estuarine and Salt Marsh

    Our final post in this series will explore the estuarine and salt marsh plant communities that make up the unique estuarine environment of Morro Bay. Not sure what a plant community is? Take a look at our introductory post to the Morro Bay Native Plant Series, an exploration of our watershed’s diverse native flora! An estuary is a place where freshwater meets the sea. In Morro Bay, the freshwater creeks and streams from our watershed drain into and mix with the salty seawater of the bay. The mixing of freshwater and seawater creates a unique and productive environment …

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