Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
sea star wasting disease

Morro Bay Wildlife Spotlight: Balls of Spines (AKA Sea Urchins)

  Is it a ball? Is it a Pokémon? Nope, it’s a sea urchin! Sea urchins, even though common, are really cool! In Morro Bay, there are mainly two species, purple sea urchin and red sea urchin. The biggest difference between the two is their size and color. Red sea urchins can reach up to five inches in diameter whereas purple sea urchins reach only two inches in diameter. The most common species is the pacific purple sea urchin, also known as Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Sea urchins use their spikes and poison as a defense mechanism. The poison is located at …

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Be Sea Otter Savvy 3: More Than Just a Pretty Face

Adult sea otter eats a purple urchin.

This is the third post to our blog series, Be Sea Otter Savvy, written by Gena Bentall, Director and Senior Scientist at Sea Otter Savvy. Posts in this series 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. When I was a little girl holding my mom’s hand on the shore in Pacific Grove in 1970, looking out at two sea otters rising and falling on a gentle swell, I knew them only from their faces in books. I knew nothing of the heroic …

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Sea Star Wasting Disease | Monitoring in Morro Bay

Infected sea star; photograph taken on day one, June 27, 2014 on Guemes Island, Washington. Credit: Kit Harma, Evergreen Shore monitor.

  A mysterious disease called Sea Star Wasting Disease Syndrome (SSWS) has been causing mass mortality of sea stars along much of the Pacific Coast from Baja California to the Gulf of Alaska. Twenty-two species of sea stars have been affected by it, making this a die-off event of the greatest magnitude, spread over the greatest geographic area to date. Melissa Douglas, Associate Research Specialist at University of California, Santa Cruz, is an expert on the syndrome. She is concerned about the spread of the disease. As she says, “Past SSWS outbreaks were restricted to Southern CA and Baja Mexico. …

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