Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
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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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Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest Winners 2019

  Spring is one of our favorite times of the year at the Estuary Program. The wildflowers are blooming, the days are long, and we get the chance to read a selection of poems crafted by talented writers in honor of the Morro Bay estuary. What more could we ask for in a season? This year, our Morro Bay Estuary Poetry contest asked writers to pen haiku about any aspect of the Morro Bay estuary that called to them as well as free verse poems about the history of Morro Bay. Local writers responded generously, sharing their love of the …

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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: Western Pond Turtle

Three western pond turtles sunbathe at Sweet Springs Nature Preserve. Photograph by Jerry Kirkhart, via Flickr Creative Commons License.

  Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight Guest Post by Tess Badrigian Tess is a Morro Bay native who has always loved the estuary and the wildlife that call it home. She studies biology and Geographic System Information at Cuesta College. After she receives her Associate Degree, Tess plans to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management and Protection. Tess also enjoys writing, kayaking, and volunteering in the local community. Western pond turtles: habitat and range If you want to see a western pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata), you must be light on your feet. If they sense something strange, they will …

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Photograph Friday: Native Trees Around the Morro Bay Estuary

Red willow grow in and along many of our local creek banks. They help stabilize the creek banks, reducing erosion.

  In the springtime, an abundance of low-growing greenery and brightly-colored blooms draw our eyes downward. We gaze at the ground as we make our way past open spaces in our neighborhoods and along the trails that surround the Morro Bay estuary. We admire the beauty of the wildflower-filled fields and the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds that visit blossom after blossom. The next time you notice a wildflower growing at the base of a tree, admire it fully. Then, look up. Spring’s splendor spans the full height of any Monterey pine or coast live oak. Some of our native trees …

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Earth Day in Morro Bay 2019: Biodiversity and Blue Carbon

  Our choices, both big and small, affect the estuary At the Estuary Program, we work toward the health of the Morro Bay estuary for the benefit of people and wildlife every day. We complete big projects that have a correspondingly large impact, like our rural road restoration project that is projected to keep more than 12,200 tons of sediment from entering the estuary through 2027. We also make small day-to-day decisions, like choosing to stay on established trails when we conduct fieldwork or hike on our own, rather than cutting new ones. We don’t usually announce those small choices, …

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Get Ready for Clean Boating on Morro Bay

  With the spring winds whipping along the Embarcadero and whitecaps on the bay, summer might seem far away. But, in just a couple of months, school will let out and prime boating season will begin. Helping boaters keep our bay clean This fall, the Morro Bay Harbor Department distributed kits that included spill prevention, containment, and response materials to all 27 boat-docking stations along Morro Bay’s shoreline. These kits make it easier for boaters to avoid spilling oil and other hazardous materials into the estuary. They also provide instructions, personal protection equipment, and cleanup materials that enable boaters and …

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