Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
morro bay estuary

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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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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Help Scientists See the Future: California King Tides Project 2020

windy cove king tide 2019

  What is the California King Tides Project? Scientists need you to be their eyes on the ocean between January 10–12 and February 8–9, 2020. On these dates, the California coast will experience the highest tides of the year, commonly called King Tides. 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 ultra-high tides today may be …

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Your Top Blog Posts of 2019

  During 2019, you tuned in to the Estuary Program blog to follow field work projects, to learn about local wildlife, to track the health of the bay, and to see how you can help the estuary and watershed. Today, we’re sharing the posts readers visited most often this year across these four categories. If you haven’t read them yet, now’s a great time to catch up! Top Field Work Post Field Updates February 2019: Wet weather, Eelgrass Restoration, and Creek Monitoring This post shares rainfall totals, details the process of sediment sampling and analysis that we use, and explains …

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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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Meet Sea Otter Savvy

Gena Bentall drives a boat during a sea otter study.

  This is an introductory post to our new blog series, Be Sea Otter Savvy, written by Gena Bentall, a sea otter biologist and Program Coordinator for Sea Otter Savvy. Future posts in this series will include tips on how to help sea otters thrive and information about sea otters’ behavior, biology, and their role in the estuary and ocean ecosystems. Why should we care about sea otters? Our news is filled with the dire predictions of climate change and daily reminders of national and global discord. Our daily lives focus on the challenges of providing for ourselves and our …

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Document Morro Bay’s Biodiversity During Snapshot Cal Coast

    Most of California, and the entire California coast, is identified as a Global Biodiversity Hotspot, called the California Floristic Province. Like the other Global Hotspots, this area has a high number of species that are endemic, meaning that they are native to this area and are found nowhere else. Every year, The California Academy of Sciences (CAS) asks people to document this extreme biodiversity through a bioblitz event called Snapshot Cal Coast. During the bioblitz, citizen scientists use iNaturalist to document all of the flora and fauna that they find in a specific coastal location. This year, Snapshot Cal Coast …

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