Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
morro bay estuary

First Flush in the Morro Bay Watershed: What goes down the drain?

First Flush Embarcadero

    Each fall, many of us busily prepare for the first big rain of the wet season. Homeowners might clean out gutters and put away patio furniture. Cities often run their street sweepers and vacuum out storm drains to prevent flooding. This past fall, the Estuary Program prepared for what is known as First Flush monitoring. What’s the harm in a little runoff? In the course of daily life, pollutants build up on our streets and sidewalks. Things like oil spills from cars, fertilizer from landscaping, pet waste, and trash can gather. When the first big rain arrives, these …

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Field Updates December 2020: Eelgrass Monitoring and Volunteer Monitoring Update

Monitoring eelgrass at a site near Morro Rock in December 2020.

The Morro Bay National Estuary Program’s fieldwork has been deemed an essential service by the County of San Luis Obispo. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, we are not working with volunteers at this time and our field staff are following updated monitoring protocols. We look forward to working with volunteers and other community members again as soon as it is safe for us to do so. Thank you, readers, for staying engaged and supporting the Estuary Program’s work during this difficult time.  Eelgrass Monitoring Anyone who has spent time on the bay this month may have noticed quite a few …

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Help Scientists See the Future: California King Tides Project 2020 to 2021

This image shows the stairway to the beach at Tidelands Park. An ultra-low tide is pictured on the left and an ultra-high tide on the right.

  What is the California King Tides Project? Scientists need you to be their eyes on the ocean December 13–15, 2020 and—if you live north of Point Conception—January 11 and 12, 2021. On these dates, the California coast will experience King Tides, the highest tides of the year. These extreme tides often encroach on infrastructure, submerging coastal access stairways, swallowing beach-side trails, overwhelming boardwalks, surging into storm-drains, and flooding roads. They can also inundate coastal habitats that aren’t typically submerged, like higher marsh areas or even dune scrub. With the rate of sea level rise increasing worldwide, what we consider …

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Photo Contest: Share the Beauty and Bounty of Morro Bay

    Estuaries worldwide deserve our attention and protection. Every year, Restore America’s Estuaries hosts National Estuaries Week during the third week of September to recognize the many benefits that estuaries provide. These places where freshwater rivers and streams meet the salty sea are biological hot spots, home to a wide range of wildlife including protected species like steelhead trout, Southern sea otters, and tidewater gobies. Estuaries provide a nursery for commercially important fish that mature and then venture out into the ocean. Their marshy extremities filter and absorb stormwater runoff, removing pollutants before the water enters the bay and …

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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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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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Paul Bump on Researching Acorn Worms in Morro Bay: The Unknown Lives of the Small and Squishy

Paul Bump, Guest Author Paul Bump is an explorer of the small and squishy.  He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2016 in marine biology, and the spent two years working as a lab technician at the Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC.   As a fourth year PhD student in the Lowe Lab at the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University in Monterey, California, Paul  studies how an organism can build two wildly different bodies during its life while having access to the same genetic information. Through his research in strange, enigmatic, marine invertebrates, he hopes to …

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Photograph Friday: Appreciating Our Corner of the Earth

    This week marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  In 1970, the first Earth Day drew 20 million people together in support of a more environmentally sustainable future. At the time, that was 10% of the total population of the United States. We can trace the roots of the Morro Bay National Estuary Program back to that day, which set in motion a decade of environmental reforms and grassroots work for a greener future. In 1972, the Clean Water Act established pollution control programs and protections for surface water quality. In 1987, Congress created the National Estuary Program …

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Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest 2020: Adult Winners Announced

  What a long, strange spring it’s been! One of the bright spots for us at the Estuary Program has been reading the entries for this year’s Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest: A National Treasure in Words. We always love reading what you’ve written about the bay, its wildlife, and what this special place means to you. This year, your words and the imagery you conjured took on even more significance as we looked for some extra light and connection to the natural world. Thank you to everyone who entered the contest for sharing your unique perspective and your presence, …

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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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