Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
morro bay estuary

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 …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

Photograph Friday: Native Trees Around the Morro Bay Estuary

Red willow grow in and along many of our local creek banks. They help stabilize the creek banks, reducing erosion.

  In the springtime, an abundance of low-growing greenery and brightly-colored blooms draw our eyes downward. We gaze at the ground as we make our way past open spaces in our neighborhoods and along the trails that surround the Morro Bay estuary. We admire the beauty of the wildflower-filled fields and the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds that visit blossom after blossom. The next time you notice a wildflower growing at the base of a tree, admire it fully. Then, look up. Spring’s splendor spans the full height of any Monterey pine or coast live oak. Some of our native trees …

Continue Reading

Get Inspired by History: Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest 2019

A view of Morro Rock over a long stretch of dunes on the sandspit.

Every year, we hold a poetry contest that asks writers to focus on Morro Bay. Our haiku category theme is always the Morro Bay estuary, but our free verse theme changes each year. This year, we are asking writers to focus on local history. Writers could choose to focus on the geological forces that carved the bay, formed the sandspit, and shaped Morro Rock. Maybe the many thousands of years of annual bird migrations will spark their imaginations. Maybe the 10,000 years or more of human habitation along the estuary’s shores and across watershed will call to them. They might …

Continue Reading

The Red-Throated Loon and Pacific Wildlife Care

We found this injured bird, which we later discovered was a red-throated loon, lying injured on the wet sand of Morro Strand Beach.

    Guest post by Charlotte Ross Charlotte Ross is a third-year journalism student at Cal Poly. In addition to her major, she is working toward dual minors, one in Spanish and the other in Biology with a concentration in Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation. Charlotte would like to pursue a career in travel and wildlife reporting so that she can surround herself in nature and see the beauty of the world while writing about it. Outside of work and school, she likes spending time at the beach, hiking, traveling, playing with her dog or chameleon, and watching the sunset in …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading