Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
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Photograph Friday: Wild Names for Wildlife in Morro Bay

Strawberry anemone, Ken-ichi U. Flickr

Wild names for wildlife A diversity of wildlife populates the Morro Bay estuary and the variety of habitats that surround it, from the low-lying saltmarsh to the rocky tops of the Morros. Each of these species has at least one, typically two, and sometimes a plethora of names. Take the six-legged, many-egged specimen below. Meet the toe-biter (Abedus genus): a bug of many names This is an aquatic bug that lives in the creeks that drain into Morro Bay. It’s a bug with many common names: toe-biter, true bug, giant water bug, and ferocious water bug. Scientifically speaking, it’s a member …

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Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest 2021: Winning Poems

  This week, we are happy to share the winning poems for our 2021 Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest! Many thanks to our winning authors and to everyone who entered this year’s contest. We are grateful to you for sharing your love of words and the Morro Bay estuary. Many thanks to our generous and talented judges, Marnie Parker, Patti Sullivan, and Kevin Patrick Sullivan. Please enjoy. Estuarine 17: Youth Haiku 8-12 First Place By Evelyn Nannie Student at Family Partnership Charter Middle School   Balance Like yen and like yang Where two halves become one whole Our estuary   …

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Field Updates June 2021: Summer Heat and Low Flow Monitoring

Creek with rocks_Morro Bay National Estuary Program

    Things are heating up this summer! According to a local weather station monitored by California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS), the average air temperature increased from about 54°F in April and 57°F in May, to over 62°F during June. In our local creeks, we also have noticed a similar climb in stream temperatures. A water temperature logger on San Luisito Creek recorded a maximum seven-day rolling average of 57.7°F (14.3°C) during May, and a maximum seven-day rolling average of 59.3°F (15.2°C) during the first half of June. For more information on how we track temperature in our local …

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Day in the Life of a Marine Chemistry Research Student: Testing Ocean Chemistry in Morro Bay

This student measures for pH

    Guest post by Natalie Dupree   Dr. Emily Bockmon’s Ocean Chemistry Research Group As an undergraduate chemistry student at Cal Poly, there were numerous research groups to consider joining.  I chose to join Dr. Emily Bockmon’s research group, which is unique because it unites students from many disciplines under one common goal—to better understand the chemistry and impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on our Central Coast. Biologists, marine scientists, and chemists come together to collect data to support the scientific community and the community of Morro Bay to preserve and protect our bay and estuary. This …

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How to Watch Sea Otters in Morro Bay (Without The Sea Otters Watching You!)

The best sea otter picture is one where the sea otters aren’t looking at the camera because they don’t even know you’re there. The photographer who captured this shot stayed quiet and kept far enough away from the otters so they could carry on resting, as they need to do to stay healthy.

  This blog is part of our series, Be Sea Otter Savvy, written by Gena Bentall, Director and Senior Scientist for Sea Otter Savvy.  As COVID-19 travel restrictions begin to ease after more than a year, many people are heading to California’s Central Coast. Morro Bay’s beautiful scenery and wildlife continue to draw visitors and locals to its shores. While we’re there, watching the waves wash over the sand and the sea otters play, we can do our part to help keep this incredible place as gorgeous, healthy, and wild as it is today for years to come. In this …

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Snapshot Cal Coast 2021: Calling All Community Scientists to Document Morro Bay’s Diversity

    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, the sixth …

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Field Updates May 2021: Spring Eelgrass Monitoring

Makenzie, our Monitoring Projects Coordinator, at our site located on the Sandspit. Staff access the site via stand up paddle boards

  A quick introduction… Hi everyone! My name is Bret, and I am the new Monitoring Projects Manager for the Estuary Program. I’m a recent transplant from the Midwest, but the West Coast has been calling to me for quite some time. As I get settled here in Morro Bay, I look forward to learning more about our estuary as well as how to be a steward of our watershed. I arrived in Morro Bay at the beginning of April, just in time for bioassessment (you can read more about bioassessment in our April Field Updates blog post). I really …

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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: Striped Shore Crab (Pachygrapsus crassipes)

a striped shore crab peeks out from under a rock.

Striped shore crab identification and habitat What striped shore crabs look like The striped shore crab is a type of crustacean, about one to two inches (or 3 to 5 centimeters) wide.  Their carapace (i.e. hard, upper shell) is a very dark purple, red, or even green, and lined with bright yellow-green stripes. Though this color combination makes striped shore crabs eye catching when you see them out in the open, it helps them disappear into dark, rocky crevices where they hide amongst sea lettuce, rock weed, and bits of kelp. Its pincers, also known as chelae, are often a …

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Field Updates April 2021: Bioassessment Highlights and Volunteer Support

Staff member holds a rock during bioassessment

    What is bioassessment? For those of you unfamiliar with this effort, our annual spring bioassessment is our largest survey effort of the year. This survey effort focuses on the biological assessment of ten local creeks within the Morro Bay watershed, using an evaluation protocol created by the Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP) and the State of California. Bioassessment surveys utilize a number of different criteria to assess creek health, with the primary focus being the assessment of benthic macroinvertebrates (BMIs). BMIs can be used as a proxy to determine stream health, since the abundance or absence of …

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MORRO BAY WATERSHED NATIVE PLANT SERIES: Riparian Plant Communities

    This series of native plant blog posts has explored the different plants found throughout the Morro Bay watershed. A watershed is an area where freshwater creeks and streams flow from higher ground down towards the ocean. Riparian zone plants reach deep when streams run dry In the Morro Bay Watershed, some creeks and streams flow year round, and some don’t. Even though they’re not full of water, dry creek beds are still bordered by vegetation. This is due to the presence of groundwater, which is water that exists beneath Earth’s surface in soil pore spaces (the space between …

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