Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
MBNEP

Field Updates March 2020: Rain, Storm Flow, Eelgrass Restoration

Storm clouds over the Morro Bay estuary

The Rain Returns March brought more rain after a dry February, with the San Luis Obispo CIMIS rain gauge receiving 5.75″ of precipitation. This helped increase the flow of creeks throughout our watershed and brings our total up to 12.36″ of rain since the start of the water year in October, 2019. Check out this link to learn more about water years, and to read some highlight about the 2019 water year. Surface flow and storm flow Around Morro Bay, different creeks maintain varying levels of surface water flow. This means that some creeks have no visible surface water flow, …

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Join the Morro Bay Rain Gauge Network to Track Local Precipitation

In light of the recent rainstorms we’ve had locally, we invite you to participate in tracking precipitation at your home, work, or school through our Morro Bay Rain Gauge Network. This is an easy way to help gather important data from home, and a great project for families or classes to take on together. Keep reading for background information about why scientists track precipitation, how stormwater affects the Morro Bay watershed, and how you can join the Morro Bay Rain Gauge Network. How scientists track precipitation A water year is a twelve-month period of time that begins October 1 of …

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Field Updates February 2020: Creek and Eelgrass

Creek Water Quality February was a month marked with warm temperatures and low precipitation here in the Morro Bay watershed. In February 2019, the San Luis Obispo CIMIS rain gauge received 7.48 inches of rain, with 57% of days during the month recording rainfall. Comparatively, this year’s rainfall has been much lower, with a February monthly total of 0.01 inches of rain and only one day with rainfall as of February 28. Low precipitation levels have led to low flows in our creeks, as can be seen in this picture of Dairy Creek, a tributary of Chorro Creek. The amount …

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Rare Nudibranch! Two Citizen Scientists find Cerberilla pungoarena in the Morro Bay Estuary

Cerberilla pungoarena in Morro Bay. Copyright passiflora4, Laura Schachterle and Thomas Hintz.

    Cerberilla pungoarena (Collier & Farmer, 1964) is one of those rare nudibranchs you may never see: only a few subtidal specimens have been reported since the mid-2000s. But now, fifteen years later and further north than they have ever been seen before, a single specimen of C. pungoarena was spotted and photographed a few months ago in shallow water in the Morro Bay Estuary by two intrepid nudibranch enthusiasts, Laura Schachterle and Thomas Hintz.  Nudibranchs are shell-less marine molluscs commonly called sea slugs. There are over 130 species of nudibranchs found in California, many brightly-colored. “Great find and …

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Field Updates January 2020: Eelgrass Success and Creek Water Quality

This month, our field staff have been busy monitoring eelgrass success in the bay and water quality in the creeks that drain to the Morro Bay estuary. Eelgrass monitoring and restoration success If you spent time out on the bay in January, you might have noticed the really high tides. January 2020 had King Tides, meaning that the high tides were much higher than normal. These extreme high tides are mirrored by extreme low tides. We always take advantage of these extreme low tides to monitor eelgrass, as we have a wider window than normal to conduct our monitoring. Eelgrass …

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Field Updates November 2019: Eelgrass, wildlife sightings, weather

    November was a busy month for our field staff. Mapping eelgrass and algae The Estuary Program has been mapping submerged vegetation, such as eelgrass and algae, for more than fifteen years. This is done by having a plane fly over the bay taking a series of images, including a multispectral image. We try to repeat this survey about every other year, with 2019 being an eelgrass flight year. Multispectral imagery Multispectral imagery is produced by sensors that measure the reflected energy within several bands of the electromagnetic signature, usually capturing light not visible to our eyes. You can …

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Exploring Abundance and Balance in the Morro Bay Estuary with Sea Otters, Whale Falls, and Bait Balls

  We are grateful for the many people—volunteers, supporters, partners, lovers of the bay and the wild lands that surround it—who make the health of the Morro Bay estuary a priority. We are grateful for the slopes of the Morros that send freshwater running down the creeks, carrying detritus to feed the bugs, bringing bugs to the fish, and tempering the salty bite of the incoming tide when the waters mix inside the bay. If the video above doesn’t load, click here to watch a timelapse of a twelve-hour tide cycle in Morro Bay. We are grateful for the push …

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Help Scientists Track the Dwindling Population of Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterflies cluster on eucalyptus leaves in Sweet Springs Nature Preserve. Photograph courtesy of Michael "Mike" L. Baird, bairdphotos.com by Flickr Creative Commons license.

  Monarchs come to the Central California Coast when cool weather hits Starting in October, monarch butterflies fill the branches of eucalyptus, Monterey pines, and other trees along California’s Central Coast. They cluster together high above the ground, looking much like bunches of dead leaves unless you use a spotting scope to take a closer look, or catch a flash of their black and orange wings as a butterfly moves away from its cluster to a sunny spot where it will open its wings and take in the sun’s warmth. Monarch butterflies come here to ride out the winter in …

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Field Updates, October 2019: Eelgrass Mapping, Ground-truthing, and Cal Poly Partnerships

Andi, eelgrass technician.

  Eelgrass fieldwork depends on tides Fall is a busy eelgrass season for field staff at the Estuary Program. The exact timing of our field work depends on when the good low-tides occur, which varies slightly from year to year. This year, October had a few days that had tides low enough to expose the eelgrass during daylight hours. This doesn’t always happen—sometimes the low tides we need happen after sundown and before sunrise. We were glad to see good tides in combination with good timing because we have a few different projects going on. Monitoring permanent eelgrass plots First …

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Family-Friendly Hikes Around Los Osos

Looking down the descent from Broderson Peak. Photograph from HikesPeak.com

    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 temperatures dip 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 with friends in green spaces can …

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