Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
morro bay

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 …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

Paul Bump on Researching Acorn Worms in Morro Bay: The Unknown Lives of the Small and Squishy

Paul Bump, Guest Author Paul Bump is an explorer of the small and squishy.  He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2016 in marine biology, and the spent two years working as a lab technician at the Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC.   As a fourth year PhD student in the Lowe Lab at the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University in Monterey, California, Paul  studies how an organism can build two wildly different bodies during its life while having access to the same genetic information. Through his research in strange, enigmatic, marine invertebrates, he hopes to …

Continue Reading

Morro Bay Eelgrass Restoration Update: May 2020

    Eelgrass in Morro Bay grows at a range of intertidal and subtidal depths throughout the estuary. Intertidal areas are exposed at high tide, while subtidal locations are always under water. Over the last few years, the Estuary Program has focused on transplanting eelgrass at intertidal locations. Focusing on shallower intertidal locations has been ideal for getting access to the mudflats on foot, and has allowed us to maximize our volunteer support. (Thank you, volunteers!) This spring, we are excited to have additional funding to expand our planting efforts to subtidal locations, too, as many intertidal areas off the …

Continue Reading

May is for Bay: victory garden and composting

May is for the bay! All month we have been looking into ways to be more environmentally friendly, so that our bay stays healthy and beautiful. In these interesting times, many of us have been dedicating more of our time to gardening. I personally am excited to eat my yummy tomatoes! Did you know you can make your own environmentally friendly fertilizer at home by composting kitchen scraps?  Something that can easily be done at home? Yay!   Protect your bay! Compost!  How does composting help the environment?  By composting, you can redirect up to thirty percent of your waste from the landfill, where it would either rot or mummify, back to the earth where it can nourish new life. By diverting your …

Continue Reading

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 …

Continue Reading

April Showers Bring May Flowers

The rain has passed and now we are in an ever-blooming spring. When thinking of spring, most folks think of flowers. And boy, oh boy, do we have loads of wildflowers in SLO County! Even though we  can’t go out and enjoy them as much as we did last spring, we can at least admire some photos from our archives.  Some of the flowers popping up this time of year are native,  while others are nonnative, or even invasive. Get ready folks, put on your flower focus face you are about to feel wildly educated!   First, let’s start with the basics, what is a native plant versus a nonnative or invasive one?  A native plant is one that originates from the area where it is currently growing. For example, if we take our native California poppy and plant it in Florida, …

Continue Reading

Photograph Friday: Appreciating Our Corner of the Earth

    This week marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  In 1970, the first Earth Day drew 20 million people together in support of a more environmentally sustainable future. At the time, that was 10% of the total population of the United States. We can trace the roots of the Morro Bay National Estuary Program back to that day, which set in motion a decade of environmental reforms and grassroots work for a greener future. In 1972, the Clean Water Act established pollution control programs and protections for surface water quality. In 1987, Congress created the National Estuary Program …

Continue Reading

Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest 2020: Adult Winners Announced

  What a long, strange spring it’s been! One of the bright spots for us at the Estuary Program has been reading the entries for this year’s Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest: A National Treasure in Words. We always love reading what you’ve written about the bay, its wildlife, and what this special place means to you. This year, your words and the imagery you conjured took on even more significance as we looked for some extra light and connection to the natural world. Thank you to everyone who entered the contest for sharing your unique perspective and your presence, …

Continue Reading

Hike from Home: Tour the Portola Point Trail with Us

This too shall pass, but until then, here is a reminder of the beauty that Morro Bay has to offer. History of Portolá Point trail Portolá Point offers one of the best viewpoints in Morro Bay, allowing you to see a scenic panorama that includes the Morro Bay estuary, the sandspit, and distant Morro Rock. The name of the trail comes from Gaspar de Portolá, who was in charge of the Portolá expedition from 1769-1770. This was an expedition of land and sea. The goal was to travel from San Diego to Monterey Bay, but they somehow passed it and …

Continue Reading