Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
MBNEP

PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS: SHARE THE BEAUTY AND BOUNTY OF MORRO BAY

sunrise with red canoe in Los Osos

  Our Beauty and Bounty of Morro Bay photo contest celebrates National Estuaries Week and recognizes the many benefits that estuaries provide. These places where freshwater rivers and streams meet the salty sea are home to myriad wildlife. They nurture juvenile fish, including commercial species. They provide us protection against both flood and drought. They also provide us with a chance to recreate and reconnect with nature. They give us beauty and solace, too. We received so many beautiful photographs that showed every angle, mood, and aspect of the bay. It was very difficult to choose between them, but after much …

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Sea Slugs on the Move: Bent on World Domination, or Opportunistic Travel Bums?

Polycera atra (top) and Polycera hedgpethi on Bugula brozoan prey San Luis Obispo County, California

    Sea Slugs on the Move: Bent on World Domination, or Opportunistic Travel Bums? With the passing of the very low, very early morning tides of summer, tidepooling minds must reluctantly turn away from the outer edges of our coastline for a few months, until the autumn minus tides return in mid-October. And what better topic to occupy our Covid/smoke/asteroid/politics stressed minds than possible world domination by sea slugs? I exaggerate, of course. We won’t be marching in lines and waving tiny nudibranch flags any time soon. But there has been a quiet movement of sea slug populations taking …

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International Coastal Cleanup Day Gets Social-Distancing Friendly

This photograph shows a collection of tiny trash pieces. They may be small, but removing them from the environment can have a big positive impact.

  This time of year, we typically find ourselves preparing for Creeks to Coast, the San Luis Obispo County version of the International Coastal Cleanup. We pick up supplies from our friends at ECOSLO, whose staff manage and coordinate the county-wide cleanup effort, get in touch with local boat captains to secure a ride for our volunteers over to the sandspit, and get ready for the big day. The photographs below are from the Creeks to Coast cleanup sites that the Estuary Program hosted last year. This year, the Creeks to Coast cleanup, like many yearly events, is adapting to …

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Bioassessment 2020: Highlights from the Season

Giant Water Bugs, also known as “Toe-Biters,” are large invertebrate predators with a powerful bite! Females typically deposit their eggs onto the males’ back, and the male “Toe-Biter” keeps the eggs safe until they hatch.

  As many of our readers and volunteers know, our spring bioassessment season is one of the major monitoring efforts of the year. We use a state-wide protocol that includes detailed habitat measurements and macroinvertebrate collection to assess creek health. Volunteers are an integral part of this effort. Our volunteers come to us from all walks of life, from seniors to college students and everything in between. We kick off the season with an orientation, and then volunteers join us on our surveys. Each season we usually have about 20 volunteers helping us monitor ten sites, collecting over 1,000 data points per site. Spring 2020: a …

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Catch Up On Morro Bay Estuary Wildlife Blog Series

    Most of us are spending more of our free time time at home, taking socially-distanced walks along the bay or finding refuge on less-traveled trails. Whether you’re taking time to notice all the details of the green spaces you already knew well or branching out to new near-home destinations, you may be seeing some wildlife you don’t yet know. To help you identify and get to know a little bit about some of our native species, we’re sharing a few of our favorite series with you this week. Learn Native Plants by Habitat Type This series introduces you …

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Be Sea Otter Savvy: A New Perspective on Sea Otter Photography

You can make a difference by following ethical wildlife photography practices and scrutinizing wildlife photos carefully for signs of disturbance. Photo by Gena Bentall.

    This post is part of our blog series, Be Sea Otter Savvy, written by Gena Bentall, Director and Senior Scientist at Sea Otter Savvy. Posts in this series include tips on how to help sea otters thrive through ethical stewardship, as well as information about sea otters’ behavior, biology, and their role in the estuary and ocean ecosystems.  A New Perspective on Sea Otter Photography You will soon be wondering what has directed my attention so intensively on photographers. In the past the field of wildlife photography was more of a specialist field—you had to have an expensive …

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Investigating the State of Morro Bay Estuary: State of the Bay Report 2020

    Every three years, the Morro Bay National Estuary Program publishes a State of the Bay report that uses data gathered by our staff, volunteers, and partner organizations to examine the health of the Morro Bay estuary and watershed. It provides important information about environmental trends and guides local efforts to protect and restore this special place. This year, we published a digital version of the State of the Bay report with additional multimedia content and information that we couldn’t fit into into the print version of the report. Today, we invite you to investigate the the health of …

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MORRO BAY ESTUARY POETRY CONTEST 2020: STUDENT WINNERS ANNOUNCED

    This year, we asked entrants to our Morro Bay Estuary Poetry contest to pen haiku about any aspect of the Morro Bay estuary that called to them as well as free verse poems about any issue discussed in our 2020 State of the Bay report. Writers from down the road, across the county, in the Central Valley, and even from overseas entered the contest. It was an honor to read each and every entry. We published the winning poems by our adult contestants in April. You can read their poems here. Below, you will find the winning poems …

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A Day in the Life of a Field Tech: Eelgrass Monitoring, by Blake Toney

A staff member stands in waders in a puddle on the mudflat.

In today’s post, Blake Toney, former Morro Bay National Estuary Program Field Tech, reflects on an early morning spent monitoring eelgrass during a very low tide in Morro Bay.  5:40 a.m. I arrive at today’s site a few minutes before my coworkers to get my bearings. The sun will not rise for another hour, but already the dark sky has begun to take on a hint of blue so faint it becomes harder to see when I concentrate on it. The moon provides some light, enough for me to trek out across the mud after struggling to fit into my …

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Director’s Desk: We Are Still Here, Monitoring, Restoring, Educating

Monitoring Coordinator, Makenzie, sports a mask during fieldwork.

    We are in a time of colliding arcs of history, immersed in the uncertainty and heightened emotions of change. The backdrop of this moment, like all moments, is our Earth. The place that holds and nurtures us. In the Morro Bay watershed, we are exceedingly lucky to be able to enjoy the beauty and peace of our estuary. The fluidity of the bay—the changing of the tides, the movement of the birds, the ever shifting fog line—brings both comfort and a mirror to the constant change around us. Although each of us may not be able to get …

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