Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
morro bay national estuary program

Thankful in Morro Bay, 2018

Drone photograph of the Morro Bay estuary. Courtesy of Nic Stover, StoverPhoto.

  At the Estuary Program, we are grateful to have the opportunity to work collaboratively for the health of the Morro Bay estuary, its watershed, the wildlife that depend on it, and the people who love it. We are thankful for the many citizens, landowners, agencies, and organizations who make this work possible by funding, advising, volunteering, and otherwise participating in projects that benefit the bay. We asked local business owners, volunteers, and artists to share what they are thankful for in and around the Morro Bay estuary. Read on to see the many ways that the bay has touched …

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How much do you know about Morro Bay’s sea otters?

A mother sea otter and her pup float on Morro Bay above a seagrass bed.

  You might have admired sea otters near Coleman Beach, Morro Rock, or the South T-pier, but how much do you know about Morro Bay’s furriest residents? Since it’s Sea Otter Awareness Week, it’s a good time to test your knowledge with this quick quiz. (Scroll to the bottom of the blog post for the answers and more fun sea otter information.) Sea Otter Quiz (Scroll down to find the answers to this quiz and more sea otter facts.) How many hairs do sea otters have per square inch of their bodies? Up to 10,000 Up to 100,000 Up to …

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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: California Sea Lions in the Estuary

Sea lions took to the new dock right away.

  California sea lions are the largest and fastest marine mammal that live year-round in Morro Bay. They can weigh as much as 860 pounds and swim as fast as 25 miles per hour. They also have between 34 and 38 formidable teeth, including four long canines. They use their teeth to catch their prey, but not to chew it. They swallow their food, mostly fish and squid, whole. Morro Bay’s sea lions have their own dock Sea lions like to rest out of the water on docks or even boats. In a busy harbor like Morro Bay, this habit …

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Field Update June 2018: Eelgrass

One new location is across from State Park Marina.

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of field work. At the Estuary Program, that often means spending time doing research and monitoring on the water. Read on to see what we’ve been up to during June 2018.  In 2017, we collaborated with researchers at CalPoly on two small-scale, experimental eelgrass restoration projects. Based on what we learned from that effort, we conducted another round in February and March of 2018. In 2018, we planted eelgrass in five locations—our original location in the forebay near channel marker …

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Independence Day and July 5th Cleanups in Morro Bay

This group of smiling volunteers from Camp Rock participated in the Pick Up the Picnic Campaign last year, and made a big difference for Morro Bay. Thank you!

  July 4 is a time when locals and visitors gather along the Central Coast to celebrate with friends and family. People barbecue in back yards, picnic at parks and beaches, and set up camp near Pismo Beach or Cayucos to watch fireworks displays. What to do in Morro Bay for Independence Day Morro Bay’s Family Fun day always attracts a crowd with a skateboard race, bike parade, live music, magic show, and kids’ carnival. Many people take some time out to enjoy the water by sailboat, motorboat, kayak or paddleboard, too. You can bring your own kayak or paddleboard …

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Native Plant Series #2: Southern Coastal Scrub

    The Southern coastal scrub plant community is one of the most common plant communities found in our watershed. Not sure what a plant community is? Take a look at our introductory post to the Morro Bay Native Plant Series, an exploration of our watershed’s diverse native flora! Climatic conditions, soil type, topography, and other features determine what types of plants will grow in a particular region, and the coastal scrub plant community occurs on relatively dry soils in areas where a Mediterranean climate prevails. The Mediterranean climate exists along the Central Coast of California along with a handful …

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Field Updates February 2018: Eelgrass Transplant Videos

One of our longtime volunteers works on harvesting eelgrass blades near Target Rock. Thanks, Marc!

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of hard work in the field. At the Estuary Program, that often means spending time doing research and monitoring work out on the water. Read on to see the progress that our staff and volunteers have made in our eelgrass work during February of 2018.  Our field highlight for February was preparing for and executing our third, small-scale eelgrass restoration. We completed two in 2017—one in March and one in July. Eelgrass was harvested from the healthy bed at Coleman …

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2017 Accomplishments: Collaborating for a Healthy Pennington Creek

Pennington Creek waterfall closeup

  The cold clear waters of Pennington Creek provide a home to many species, including our iconic steelhead. Pennington Creek is also home to the California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) Escuela Ranch and the Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School. The Estuary Program works with these landowners and other partners to protect and enhance habitat in and around the creek for sensitive species like steelhead. During 2017, we collaborated to put past projects to good use and to complete groundwork for important upcoming projects. Helping the Waters Run Clear At Cal Poly’s Escuela Ranch, the university is training the next …

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What are those snails in Morro Bay? Investigating the bubble snail boom

These are snail larvae in a sample taken from Morro Bay, illuminated in a microscope.

  Guest post by Jennifer Ruesink, a scientist and Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle. Jennifer Ruesink has been a faculty member at the University of Washington, Seattle, since 1999. Her expertise is in the ecology of estuarine ecosystems, especially structure-forming species such as seagrass and oysters. For her sabbatical in 2017-2018, she is visiting as many estuaries as possible along the Northeast Pacific coast, starting in Washington, as far south as Baja California, and finally around to Alaska before coming back down the coast. All these estuaries contain the same species of eelgrass, and many have commercial oyster …

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Field Updates October 2017: Eelgrass Seed Planting

Though all these seeds came from the same eelgrass bed on North Sandspit, there was lots of variation in size and color. You can see the ribs in the goat in some of the seeds.

    Protecting and restoring the bay and estuary takes a lot of boots on the ground…as well as the occasional wet suit. See what our volunteers and field staff have been working on during the past month. Eelgrass The highlight of fieldwork in October was collecting our final blades of flowering eelgrass and planting the seeds. We learned a lot about flowering patterns throughout the bay. The beds varied in the magnitude, stages, and progression of seed development. Some beds had too few shoots to collect from, while others were plentiful in comparison.   Eelgrass seeds are small and …

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