Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
field work

Field updates April & May 2019: Monitoring Eelgrass and Creek Health

Two members from the Watershed Stewards Program lay out eelgrass blades on a white board for counting and photographing.

    Fieldwork season is in full swing now for us here at the Morro Bay National Estuary Program, and we have been busy hiking around the creeks and estuary to continue monitoring our local watershed. In April and May, we monitored eelgrass and conducted bioassessment monitoring to help us see how healthy our creeks are. Eelgrass monitoring Eelgrass monitoring continues as usual when the tides are low enough to let us collect data. This past month, there was a good window spanning multiple days where we were able to monitor for a couple hours each day to check on …

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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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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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Field Updates August 2018: Monitoring Eelgrass Restoration Plots in Morro Bay

This eelgrass plot, transplanted in March of 2017, is thriving.

    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, restoration, and monitoring work out on the water. Read on to see what we’ve been up to during the past month. This past spring, we were busy planting eelgrass. We planted just over 3,000 eelgrass shoots throughout the estuary. We chose transplant sites where naturally occurring eelgrass was found nearby. The five transplant locations in 2018 represented a range of conditions throughout the …

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Photograph Friday: Morro Bay Beneath the Surface

  Most of us see only what happens on or above the surface of Morro Bay. We spend time watching the ripples and white caps move across the water, sailboats slip by, and sea otters floating while they rest. We look up at Morro Rock to watch peregrine falcons bring food to their chicks, or to see the fog roll in and encompass it almost entirely.   Not as many of us get to see what happens below the water’s reflective edge. Estuary Program staff are some of the lucky people who get that view. They’ll catch a glimpse of …

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2017 Accomplishments: Eelgrass Restoration Update

Tim, a Watershed Stewards Program member, plants seeds.

  If you have been following along with our blog, you know that eelgrass has drastically declined in Morro Bay since 2007, and that we’ve been working hard to address this issue. Our staff members have been collaborating with agencies, researchers, and volunteers to conduct extensive monitoring and research efforts that will help us better understand eelgrass growth and the conditions that might be impacting it. Read on to learn about our eelgrass restoration work and other eelgrass efforts that we took on in 2017.   Experimental eelgrass transplants and transplant monitoring In 2017, we put the knowledge we have …

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Field Updates December 2017

We also spotted this crab in the eelgrass.

  Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of hard work in the field. Read on to see what our staff and volunteers have been up to during the month of December. We’re looking forward to another productive year of field work in 2018! Permanent Transects In 2005, with help from the Battelle Marine Sciences staff, we established four permanent transects for annual eelgrass monitoring in Morro Bay. These transects were chosen to represent different zones of the bay and capture differences between these zones. We added an additional …

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Field Updates September 2017: Pikeminnow and Eelgrass

Collected seeds are held in mesh bags in the estuary until they mature. Mature seeds will have a hard, longitudinally ribbed coat and can vary in color, including olive, dark brown and black.

    Protecting and restoring the bay and estuary takes a lot of boots on the ground. See what our volunteers and field staff have been working on during the past month. Pikeminnow Management Chorro Creek used to be home to a healthy population of steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), however their numbers have declined. While there are multiple factors that contribute to this, a fish called the Sacramento pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus grandis) put pressure on steelhead. Pikeminnow eat juvenile steelhead and compete with steelhead for food and habitat. While native to other parts of California, pikeminnow are not native to the Morro …

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Photograph Friday: Fieldwork Before Sunrise

The crew of staff and volunteers harvested eelgrass in their assigned locations as the sun rose over Morro Bay. The crew of staff and volunteers harvested eelgrass in their assigned locations as the sun rose over Morro Bay.

“Time and tide will wait for no man, saith the adage. But all men have to wait for time and tide.” —Charles Dickens, The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit   This saying about the inevitable march of time and the seasons can be traced back to the 1200s, but it felt very relevant at 5:00 this morning when Estuary Program staff and a few stout-hearted and warmly-dressed volunteers ventured out to the beach near Target Rock. There, we began the second round of the small-scale eelgrass transplant project that began back in March. Before setting the date for work to begin, staff had to monitor …

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Field Updates June 2017

This dragonfly landed on a tree leaf, allowing us to see its intricate wing detail up close.

See what our volunteers and staff have been working on in the bay and watershed during the past month. Bioassessment The 2017 Bioassessment field season extended from April all the way into June. In June, we completed the final two surveys and then shipped off our bugs to the lab! We expect to have the bug scores sometime in the fall. One of our last surveys was on Upper Chorro Creek. The riparian corridor was teeming with dragonflies. Dragonflies are in the Order Odonata, which vary greatly in their tolerance level. Though the presence of these primitive creatures doesn’t necessarily …

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