Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
morro bay

Best Fall Hikes in Los Osos Near the Morro Bay Estuary

    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. A study done by Stanford researchers shows that making time to enjoy the natural spaces around us by hiking, walking, or even just visiting with friends in natural spaces can decrease stress and may lessen the risk of depression. During the study, they asked participants to take a …

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Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: Brown Bears and Black Bears

    Black bear sighting in Los Osos A black bear (Ursus americanus) recently swam across the southern end of the Morro Bay estuary and made its way onto land in a residential area of Los Osos, near Pasadena Point. The bear spent some time napping in a tree before officials with California Fish and Wildlife tranquilized and transported it to the Los Padres National Forest. This incident reminded many of us that the lands surrounding Morro Bay are still wild and able to support large mammals, like black bears and mountain lions. Though black bears are omnivores and eat …

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Morro Bay Watershed Native Plant Series: Introduction

  Why do native plants thrive in the lands surrounding Morro Bay? The Morro Bay watershed is one of the most botanically diverse regions in California. This diversity can be traced back to the ice ages as California’s coastline receded and advanced over thousands of years, and the tectonic plates settled into their current position. Many communities and species of plants have evolved here as a result of such active geologic change. These plant communities have continued to exist and thrive because San Luis Obispo County still resembles its natural state, despite increasing human habitation and land use development. Because …

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Have a Happy, Bay-Friendly, Halloween 2020!

  It’s October on the Central Coast; the sun is going down earlier and there is a little chill in the air. Halloween is only three weeks away! Very little is business as usual this year, but the changing of the season and having a familiar holiday celebrations to look forward to can help give us a all a sense of normalcy. Halloween itself is a lot of fun; it means candy, costumes, and light-hearted mischief for everyone. While traditional trick-or-treating and group celebrations aren’t an option this year, many people are planning to celebrate at home. Between candy wrappers, …

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PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS: SHARE THE BEAUTY AND BOUNTY OF MORRO BAY

sunrise with red canoe in Los Osos

  Our Beauty and Bounty of Morro Bay photo contest celebrates National Estuaries Week and recognizes the many benefits that estuaries provide. These places where freshwater rivers and streams meet the salty sea are home to myriad wildlife. They nurture juvenile fish, including commercial species. They provide us protection against both flood and drought. They also provide us with a chance to recreate and reconnect with nature. They give us beauty and solace, too. We received so many beautiful photographs that showed every angle, mood, and aspect of the bay. It was very difficult to choose between them, but after much …

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Sea Slugs on the Move: Bent on World Domination, or Opportunistic Travel Bums?

Polycera atra (top) and Polycera hedgpethi on Bugula brozoan prey San Luis Obispo County, California

    Sea Slugs on the Move: Bent on World Domination, or Opportunistic Travel Bums? With the passing of the very low, very early morning tides of summer, tidepooling minds must reluctantly turn away from the outer edges of our coastline for a few months, until the autumn minus tides return in mid-October. And what better topic to occupy our Covid/smoke/asteroid/politics stressed minds than possible world domination by sea slugs? I exaggerate, of course. We won’t be marching in lines and waving tiny nudibranch flags any time soon. But there has been a quiet movement of sea slug populations taking …

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International Coastal Cleanup Day Gets Social-Distancing Friendly

This photograph shows a collection of tiny trash pieces. They may be small, but removing them from the environment can have a big positive impact.

  This time of year, we typically find ourselves preparing for Creeks to Coast, the San Luis Obispo County version of the International Coastal Cleanup. We pick up supplies from our friends at ECOSLO, whose staff manage and coordinate the county-wide cleanup effort, get in touch with local boat captains to secure a ride for our volunteers over to the sandspit, and get ready for the big day. The photographs below are from the Creeks to Coast cleanup sites that the Estuary Program hosted last year. This year, the Creeks to Coast cleanup, like many yearly events, is adapting to …

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Photo Contest: Share the Beauty and Bounty of Morro Bay

    Estuaries worldwide deserve our attention and protection. Every year, Restore America’s Estuaries hosts National Estuaries Week during the third week of September to recognize the many benefits that estuaries provide. These places where freshwater rivers and streams meet the salty sea are biological hot spots, home to a wide range of wildlife including protected species like steelhead trout, Southern sea otters, and tidewater gobies. Estuaries provide a nursery for commercially important fish that mature and then venture out into the ocean. Their marshy extremities filter and absorb stormwater runoff, removing pollutants before the water enters the bay and …

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Morro Baycam: Cloud Watching, Spring and Summer 2020

    We like watching the clouds go by over the bay whether we’re on the beach, on a boat, or taking a peek at the Morro Baycam on a break from working at home. Today, we invite you to check out some of our favorite cloudscapes from dawn to sunset and everywhere between. Subscribe to our weekly blog to have posts like this delivered to your inbox each week. 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 …

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Bioassessment 2020: Highlights from the Season

Giant Water Bugs, also known as “Toe-Biters,” are large invertebrate predators with a powerful bite! Females typically deposit their eggs onto the males’ back, and the male “Toe-Biter” keeps the eggs safe until they hatch.

  As many of our readers and volunteers know, our spring bioassessment season is one of the major monitoring efforts of the year. We use a state-wide protocol that includes detailed habitat measurements and macroinvertebrate collection to assess creek health. Volunteers are an integral part of this effort. Our volunteers come to us from all walks of life, from seniors to college students and everything in between. We kick off the season with an orientation, and then volunteers join us on our surveys. Each season we usually have about 20 volunteers helping us monitor ten sites, collecting over 1,000 data points per site. Spring 2020: a …

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