Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
morro bay

2018 Volunteers of the Year

    The Morro Bay National Estuary Program, like many nonprofits, relies on volunteers who generously donate their time and expertise. Volunteers make up our governing board and committees, reach out to students at events and in classrooms, collect and analyze water samples, transplant eelgrass, and keep our Mutts for the Bay dog waste bag dispensers stocked and ready. Estuary Program volunteerism by the numbers During the past year: Volunteers spent 156 hours working to restore eelgrass to Morro Bay and another 27 hours on other restoration work in the watershed. 55 people volunteered through our Monitoring Program, spending 805 …

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FIELD UPDATES SEPTEMBER 2018: Fish Surveys, Fish Habitat, and Sharing What We’ve Learned

We observed this juvenile steelhead trout during a fish survey on Chorro Creek.

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and wildlife requires a lot of hard work in the field. At the Estuary Program, that often entails doing research, restoration, and monitoring work out on the estuary and along the creeks that feed into it. Read on to see what we’ve been up to during the past month. Fish surveys Our field highlight for September was heading out with Stillwater Sciences and volunteers to complete fish surveys in Chorro Creek. We conducted fish sampling, a process of catching, identifying, measuring, and releasing fish, that …

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Rain Comes to Morro Bay at the Start of a New Water Year

First rain of the water year Rain returned to the Central Coast this week, bringing precipitation totals between one third of an inch and six tenths of an inch within the Morro Bay estuary watershed. This storm came after a six-month break in significant precipitation and just after the October 1 start of the new, 2019 water year. A water year is a twelve-month period of time that begins October 1 of one calendar year and ends September 30 of the next. The reason that the water year differs from the calendar year is that, in many places, precipitation that falls …

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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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Coastal Cleanup Day Volunteers

A fun family competition lead to this group of dedicated volunteers picking up 664 cigarette butts. Wow!

    Thousands of volunteers participated in local Coastal Cleanup Day events Coastal Cleanup Day calls family and friends together to tend to the health of California’s coast by picking up trash and recycling. For the past fourteen years, local nonprofit ECOSLO has organized the cleanup efforts countywide. This year, 1,312 volunteers picked up 5,688 pounds of trash and recycling from 36 cleanup sites. Ten of those sites were located inland. This might seem odd, but trash left on the ground storm drains that are miles from the beach run into creeks that empty directly into bays or the open …

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Native Plant Series #5: Riparian

    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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Field Updates August 2018: Monitoring Eelgrass Restoration Plots in Morro Bay

This eelgrass plot, transplanted in March of 2017, is thriving.

    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, restoration, and monitoring work out on the water. Read on to see what we’ve been up to during the past month. This past spring, we were busy planting eelgrass. We planted just over 3,000 eelgrass shoots throughout the estuary. We chose transplant sites where naturally occurring eelgrass was found nearby. The five transplant locations in 2018 represented a range of conditions throughout the …

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Opt Outside this Fall with Hikes Around Morro Bay

A view from the Elfin Forest during the summer.

    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 summer winds down, students head back to school, 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 …

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Photograph Friday: The Little Things

There is a whole world in a few drops of water from the bay. This photograph shows plankton from a water sample under a microscope.

  In her recent blog post, Executive Director Lexie Bell discussed the detail-oriented nature of our work at the Estuary Program. “We deal in parts per million of analytes in water, concentrations of bacteria, and blades of eelgrass,” she said. “But in the end, we want this bay to remain a beautiful place of light and inspiration, a place to connect with the Earth and each other. We are preserving the opportunity for countless future experiences of awe.” Sometimes, it is those details—the curve of a blade of eelgrass, the shape of plankton under a microscope, or the abundance of …

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Upward Bound Students Impress With Estuary Program Projects

Students pose with their finished prototype during the post-presentation reception.

  One of our goals at the Estuary Program is to engage students in learning about the bay, its wildlife, and the challenges that face it. The more they understand and appreciate the estuary, the more likely they are to help keep it healthy and clean. We often go into classrooms, host students in our Nature Center, and take small groups of students on field trips around the bay. This July, we were privileged to work with students in a new capacity, by participating as clients in Cal Poly’s Upward Bound Summer Academy. This program combines classes in math and …

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