Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
los osos

Photograph Friday: Elfin Forest

    The El Moro Elfin Forest is full of surprises. Although it lies just on the edge of a neighborhood, near a school, and close to busy South Bay Boulevard, it feels a world apart. The winding boardwalk path brings you to lookout points high above the estuary and salt marsh and then pulls you deep under the cover of pygmy live oaks in Rose’s Grove. And, though the preserve covers only 90 acres, it boasts eight distinct habitat types. (You can read about some of these distinct plant communities in our Native Plant blog series.) Each season brings new …

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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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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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Opt Outside this Fall with Hikes Around Morro Bay

A view from the Elfin Forest during the summer.

    The land that surrounds the Morro Bay estuary is contoured by hills and valleys, studded with trees, and etched by creeks that take their time winding down to the salt marsh and entering bay. In short, it is a beautiful place that offers many opportunities to get outside and explore. But, as summer winds down, students head back to school, and the sun starts to set earlier in the day, many of us spend more time inside than out. Studies show that making time to enjoy the natural spaces around us by hiking, walking, or even just visiting …

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Field Updates March 2018: Eelgrass Transplanting and Sediment Sampling

No, that’s not a grass skirt. That is 25 eelgrass rhizomes tied onto rebar, ready to be planted.

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 the progress that our staff and volunteers have made in our eelgrass work during March of 2018.  Eelgrass In the last few months, you might have seen our staff and volunteers in waders at Coleman Beach or trudging through the mud in the back bay during the last few months. They have been busy …

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Photograph Friday: Spring Rain in Morro Bay

At the Estuary Program office, we are always excited to see the rain come down. When enough rain falls, creeks flow at adequate levels, giving fish and other aquatic wildlife a better chance to survive and thrive. On the other hand, rain can wash trash, sediment, and other substances into storm drains, creeks, and out into the bay. It’s important to make sure that we dispose of trash, pet waste, debris, and chemicals properly. so that they can’t catch a ride into our waterways. Today, we are sharing some of our favorite pictures of the most recent storm. If you …

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Morro Bay’s Black Brant: Monitoring the Status of a Bay Icon

This image from 1999 shows a large flock of Black Brant overhead. Brant are no longer coming to Morro Bay in these numbers.

    Guest post by John Roser John’s field biology work began about 35 years ago. Early field work was with California Condors and Bald Eagles. Eventually he detoured into an enjoyable 25-year career in outdoor science education. Over 20 years ago John began a voluntary study of Morro Bay’s wintering Brant Population. His interest in Brant has led him to volunteer with Brant biologists from Baja to Humboldt Bay and as far as Brant breeding colonies in arctic Alaska. In the mid 1990s I often heard the opinion that one of Morro Bay’s icons, Black Brant geese, were in …

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Explore Morro Bay on National Take a Hike Day

Sweet Springs is a great spot for nature-lovers of all ages. Here, a child admires the view from the new bird blind in the East Sweet Springs expansion.

  A great way to experience the beauty and biological diversity of the Morro Bay estuary is by putting on your boots and heading out on one of our many local trails. In honor of National Take a Hike Day, we’re bringing you suggestions for three local favorites in the watershed. Happy hiking! Montaña de Oro to the Morro Bay Sandspit Choose-your-length beach and dune hike There is nowhere in Morro Bay that sparks the imagination more than the sandspit. Physically, it divides the Morro Bay estuary from larger Estero Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Depending on who you talk with, the …

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2017 Estuary Program Volunteers of the Year

Mike Lindley, Monitoring Volunteer of the Year, doing one of the thin

  Each fall, we gather together with volunteers from different areas of our program to thank them for their hard work. This year, we gathered at the Old School House in the Los Osos Community Park. We shared pizza, cookies, stories, and heaps of gratitude for the hundreds of hours and immeasurable love of the bay that our volunteers give us each year. We were very grateful to local business for donating goodies for our free Volunteer Appreciation Raffle. Donors included Ascendo Coffee, ESTERO, Growing Grounds Downtown, Kayak Horizons, and Sunshine Health Food Store. Our volunteers are a very important …

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Celebrating the Complexity of the Morro Bay Estuary

The back bay is totally inundated at this high king tide.

  National Estuaries Week runs through September 23 and celebrates the benefit we reap from our thriving coastal ecosystems. This has us thinking about how complex and special estuary ecosystems and the wildlife that thrives here are. Estuaries are places of transition. The salty tides wash in and out over the mud flats, inundating the marsh and mixing with the freshwater influx from upland streams. The plants and animals that live in the estuary and the habitats that border its edges have special adaptations to survive these changes. The time-lapse video above shows a complete twelve-hour tidal cycle in Morro Bay. (Video …

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