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

International Coastal Cleanup Day Gets Social-Distancing Friendly

This photograph shows a collection of tiny trash pieces. They may be small, but removing them from the environment can have a big positive impact.

  This time of year, we typically find ourselves preparing for Creeks to Coast, the San Luis Obispo County version of the International Coastal Cleanup. We pick up supplies from our friends at ECOSLO, whose staff manage and coordinate the county-wide cleanup effort, get in touch with local boat captains to secure a ride for our volunteers over to the sandspit, and get ready for the big day. The photographs below are from the Creeks to Coast cleanup sites that the Estuary Program hosted last year. This year, the Creeks to Coast cleanup, like many yearly events, is adapting to …

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Morro Baycam: Cloud Watching, Spring and Summer 2020

    We like watching the clouds go by over the bay whether we’re on the beach, on a boat, or taking a peek at the Morro Baycam on a break from working at home. Today, we invite you to check out some of our favorite cloudscapes from dawn to sunset and everywhere between. Subscribe to our weekly blog to have posts like this delivered to your inbox each week. Help us protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary! Donate to the Estuary Program today and support our work in the field, the lab, and beyond. The Estuary Program is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. We …

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Bioassessment 2020: Highlights from the Season

Giant Water Bugs, also known as “Toe-Biters,” are large invertebrate predators with a powerful bite! Females typically deposit their eggs onto the males’ back, and the male “Toe-Biter” keeps the eggs safe until they hatch.

  As many of our readers and volunteers know, our spring bioassessment season is one of the major monitoring efforts of the year. We use a state-wide protocol that includes detailed habitat measurements and macroinvertebrate collection to assess creek health. Volunteers are an integral part of this effort. Our volunteers come to us from all walks of life, from seniors to college students and everything in between. We kick off the season with an orientation, and then volunteers join us on our surveys. Each season we usually have about 20 volunteers helping us monitor ten sites, collecting over 1,000 data points per site. Spring 2020: a …

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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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Be Sea Otter Savvy: A New Perspective on Sea Otter Photography

You can make a difference by following ethical wildlife photography practices and scrutinizing wildlife photos carefully for signs of disturbance. Photo by Gena Bentall.

    This post is part of our blog series, Be Sea Otter Savvy, written by Gena Bentall, Director and Senior Scientist at Sea Otter Savvy. Posts in this series include tips on how to help sea otters thrive through ethical stewardship, as well as information about sea otters’ behavior, biology, and their role in the estuary and ocean ecosystems.  A New Perspective on Sea Otter Photography You will soon be wondering what has directed my attention so intensively on photographers. In the past the field of wildlife photography was more of a specialist field—you had to have an expensive …

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A Day in the Life of a Field Tech: Eelgrass Monitoring, by Blake Toney

A staff member stands in waders in a puddle on the mudflat.

In today’s post, Blake Toney, former Morro Bay National Estuary Program Field Tech, reflects on an early morning spent monitoring eelgrass during a very low tide in Morro Bay.  5:40 a.m. I arrive at today’s site a few minutes before my coworkers to get my bearings. The sun will not rise for another hour, but already the dark sky has begun to take on a hint of blue so faint it becomes harder to see when I concentrate on it. The moon provides some light, enough for me to trek out across the mud after struggling to fit into my …

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Director’s Desk: We Are Still Here, Monitoring, Restoring, Educating

Monitoring Coordinator, Makenzie, sports a mask during fieldwork.

    We are in a time of colliding arcs of history, immersed in the uncertainty and heightened emotions of change. The backdrop of this moment, like all moments, is our Earth. The place that holds and nurtures us. In the Morro Bay watershed, we are exceedingly lucky to be able to enjoy the beauty and peace of our estuary. The fluidity of the bay—the changing of the tides, the movement of the birds, the ever shifting fog line—brings both comfort and a mirror to the constant change around us. Although each of us may not be able to get …

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Hike from Home: Shark Inlet Hike

The trail to Shark Inlet is a hidden gem, known among the locals for its accessibility to the dunes. It is a short family friendly stroll that has lots of beautiful vegetation along the way. Here is what you have to look forward to once this time passes and we’re all able to get back out on the trail.   This trail is short, but lovely! Here is a map of the trail.  Finding the trail head  Pretend you are heading from San Luis Obispo toward Montana de Oro on Los Osos Valley Road, then turn right onto Monarch Lane. You’ll take Monarch Lane until it ends and the trail-head is right there.  This is what the start of the trail looks like. Since this hike starts in …

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Field Updates March 2020: Rain, Storm Flow, Eelgrass Restoration

Storm clouds over the Morro Bay estuary

The Rain Returns March brought more rain after a dry February, with the San Luis Obispo CIMIS rain gauge receiving 5.75″ of precipitation. This helped increase the flow of creeks throughout our watershed and brings our total up to 12.36″ of rain since the start of the water year in October, 2019. Check out this link to learn more about water years, and to read some highlight about the 2019 water year. Surface flow and storm flow Around Morro Bay, different creeks maintain varying levels of surface water flow. This means that some creeks have no visible surface water flow, …

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Join the Morro Bay Rain Gauge Network to Track Local Precipitation

In light of the recent rainstorms we’ve had locally, we invite you to participate in tracking precipitation at your home, work, or school through our Morro Bay Rain Gauge Network. This is an easy way to help gather important data from home, and a great project for families or classes to take on together. Keep reading for background information about why scientists track precipitation, how stormwater affects the Morro Bay watershed, and how you can join the Morro Bay Rain Gauge Network. How scientists track precipitation A water year is a twelve-month period of time that begins October 1 of …

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