Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
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Twenty-Five Years After the Highway 41 Fire of August 1994

The smoke plume grows as the Highway 41 fire spreads. Photograph by Ruth Ann Angus, August 1994.

  Watching the Highway 41 Fire from the Morro Bay estuary On August 14, 1994, the Highway 41 fire broke out on the Cuesta Grade. Ruth Ann Angus, local photographer, writer, and long-time supporter of the Estuary Program, was out kayaking on the bay with a friend when the Highway 41 blaze began. As Ruth Ann recalls, “We paddled all the way back to Sweet Springs and as we turned around there, I spotted the puff of smoke in the sky. I knew it was bad so we immediately began paddling back to the Marina area….” She took photos on …

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Field Updates, June & July 2019: Creeks, Road Restoration, Eelgrass

Shows a volunteer conducting water quality monitoring

  With summer in full swing, field staff at the Morro Bay National Estuary Program have greatly appreciated the long days. As always, we have been busy out in the field, collecting data from the watershed. Here are some of the things we’ve been up to recently. Creeks Our ongoing monitoring effort of the two subwatersheds, Chorro Creek and Los Osos Creek, that drain into Morro Bay allow long term trends to be established and we can see if current conditions vary from historical patterns. Chorro Creek is the main creek in our watershed, draining about 60% of the total …

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Photograph Friday: Slow-Motion Summer Sunset Over Morro Bay

8:30 p.m. sunset sun rays

  This Photograph Friday, we are sharing a summer sunset over Morro Bay in slow motion, with one photograph taken every ten minutes during a single evening in July. For more photographs like this, visit our Morro Baycam. 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 depend on funding from grants and generous donors to continue our work. Support us by purchasing estuary-themed gear from ESTERO. This locally owned and operated company donates 20% of proceeds from its Estuary …

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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 …

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Photograph Friday: Red, White, and Blue

As 4th of July comes and goes let us take a moment to be thankful for our country. Maybe, go on a hike, take a trail that you haven’t done before. Enjoy the lush black sage found on Black Hill and the white wings of an egret as it soars above the bay. Take a kayak out to enjoy the crisp, cool, calm water of the bay. Red, White, and Blue of the Bay  In today’s post, we are celebrating independence day with nature’s own red, white and blue! Red This is an Indian paintbrush (Castilleja affinis) and even though …

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The truth about sunscreen: its effects on us and the environment

Summer is coming in hot! Iced tea, pool days, and movie nights are fast approaching. With all the excitement that comes with summer, you might not be thinking about the invention that allows our skin to survive the brutal rays of the sun—sunscreen. Whether you are a fan of old-school white goop or spray-on, most sunscreens are made out of the same basic ingredients. The main difference lies in how the active ingredients work to keep you from burning. There are two types of sunscreen, chemical sunscreen and mineral sunscreen, which is also known as physical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreen vs. …

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Field updates April & May 2019: Monitoring Eelgrass and Creek Health

Two members from the Watershed Stewards Program lay out eelgrass blades on a white board for counting and photographing.

    Fieldwork season is in full swing now for us here at the Morro Bay National Estuary Program, and we have been busy hiking around the creeks and estuary to continue monitoring our local watershed. In April and May, we monitored eelgrass and conducted bioassessment monitoring to help us see how healthy our creeks are. Eelgrass monitoring Eelgrass monitoring continues as usual when the tides are low enough to let us collect data. This past month, there was a good window spanning multiple days where we were able to monitor for a couple hours each day to check on …

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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 …

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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: Mystery Species Revealed

Mystery species number 1

  In last week’s post, we shared photographs of four species native to San Luis Obispo County and asked you to identify them. Today’s post reveals all four mystery species and shares information about each one. Wildlife Spotlight: Mystery species #1 Common salp (Salpa fusiformis) These ethereal-looking creatures are sometimes mistaken for jellyfish, but they are much more complex. In fact, they are more closely related to humans than they are to jellies. This is because, as larvae, salps have a simple backbone called a notochord, which is composed of a tissue similar to cartilage. Though the notochord all but …

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Photograph Friday: Morro Bay Mystery Species Contest

Mystery species number 3

  Today, we bring you four photographs of species native to San Luis Obispo County. Do you know what they are? Share your guesses for a chance to win an Estuary Octopus mug!  Post your answer and tag us @mbestuary on Facebook or @MorroBayNEP on Instagram and Twitter. Use #MBmystery1, #MBmystery2, MBmystery3, and MBmystery4. We’ll be looking for your guesses through Wednesday, May 22. You will be entered into the drawing one time for each correct answer you submit. So, if you correctly identify all four species, you will be entered into the drawing four times.  The winner will be …

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