Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
morro bay estuary

Preview Sea Level Rise with King Tides in Morro Bay

    The highest tides of the year are on their way. These tides, commonly called King Tides, often encroach on infrastructure along California’s coast. They submerge stairways to the beach, overwhelm boardwalks, surge into storm-drain systems, flood roads, and even crash against the windows of waterfront buildings. Read on to see what causes these tides, how they affect Morro Bay, why they matter, and what you can do to help. (Read all the way through to find info on our Morro Bay King Tides Photo Contest.) What causes King Tides These exceptionally high tides occur each winter when: Earth …

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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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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: Monarchs are back!

    As the month of November rolls around, the eucalyptus groves in Morro Bay State Park fill with bright orange monarch butterflies. After soaring the windstreams of the world for over 1,000 miles, these butterflies escape the cold temperatures of the Rockies and migrate to the warmer climates of our central California coast. A migration across generations One monarch butterfly alone cannot make this journey. It can take up to five generations of monarchs migrating southwest before they reach our coast. Depending on the time of year, the lifespan of a monarch butterfly varies. During the spring and summer, …

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What to do in Morro Bay

Looking inland from the top of Black Hill in spring.

  Wildflowers are blooming, birds are singing, and the afternoon winds have been picking up speed. It’s definitely spring in Morro Bay! Every year during the spring and summer visitors stop by the Estuary Program office asking for the best spots to enjoy our beautiful estuary and things to do that will help them learn more about the area. We’re sharing some of our favorite what-to-do tips with you, too. Go birding Bring your scope or binoculars and visit one of the area’s numerous birding spots. Sweet Springs Morro Coast Audubon’s expanded Sweet Springs preserve in Los Osos is a …

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Photo Friday: Changing Light Around Morro Bay

Sweet Springs, looking out at Morro Rock during the day.

  We’re well into autumn, and the days are growing shorter. In Morro Bay, the sun will set at 6:30 p.m. this evening, a full 52 minutes earlier than it did at this year’s summer solstice. While many of us will miss those long summer and early-autumn days, there are many things to look forward to as the days grow shorter. One of them is the way the light changes around our bay. The golden gloaming comes sooner, and the colorful sunsets, too. Below, you will find three pairs of photographs taken at different locations in the bay. For each …

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Be Sea-Otter Aware in Morro Bay

  Sea Otter Awareness Week is drawing to a close, but—lucky for residents and visitors—sea otters live in Morro Bay year-round. This story could have been different; sea otters were once hunted almost to extinction for their thick pelts. (They have about one-million hairs per square inch, which helps keep them warm in our cold waters.) They were so scarce that they were thought to be extinct along the California Coast. However, one small group of otters survived along the coast of Big Sur; this group was first sighted in the 1930s. The otters that you see in Morro Bay …

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Coastal Cleanup Day 2017

Here is a picture of the whole wonderful cleanup crew for 2017.

  Today was the 31st Coastal Cleanup Day. This international event is the largest annual volunteer event in California, and the Estuary Program is always happy to work with volunteers to pick up trash on the Morro Bay sandspit. This morning’s group of volunteers gathered early at Morro Bay Landing to hear from Sylvia, a California State Parks representative, about how snowy plovers use the sandspit and what we can do to help protect them. These small shorebirds are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and as a bird of special concern for the State of California. Morro Bay’s sandspit …

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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: Swell Shark

Swell shark closeup by Josh More, via Flickr.

    Movies like Jaws and Sharknado can make sharks seem like mindless killing machines—even the dramatic music typically used to accompany footage of sharks has been shown to affect our perception of them. Despite their deadly pop culture image, the more scientists study sharks, the more they find that humans are not their intended prey. While species like great whites might “sample bite” humans, they rarely pursue people after that first bite. In fact, many shark attacks seem to be a case of mistaken identity, where the shark takes a surfer, paddler, or swimmer for a sea lion or …

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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: California Two Spot Octopus

  The octopus is a creature that captures our imaginations. It has been doing so for thousands of years across many different cultures. Octopi were a common motif on pottery in ancient Greece and beyond. Octopi also made appearances in other historical art pieces, such as this woodcut from 18th Century Japan. More recently, the octopus made an animated splash in the film Finding Dory, where seven-tentacled Hank becomes quite the hero. Hank is based on the mimic octopus, which can change its shape and behavior to mimic other marine animals in order to avoid predators. (No wonder these creatures have …

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Plant a Tree for the Estuary

A shady view from Sweet Springs Nature Preserve.

  The City of Morro Bay’s commitment to planting new trees and caring for our existing trees shows. This June will mark 24 years since Morro Bay was designated as an official Tree City. This is great news for residents and visitors, because trees provide a huge variety of benefits beyond their natural beauty. Trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, helping to improve air quality. Trees provide habitat for local animals—including many of the bird species that call Morro Bay home year-round, and those that migrate through on the Pacific Flyway. Perhaps the most obvious benefit of trees is their …

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