Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.
seagrass

Field Updates November 2021: Eelgrass Monitoring Behind the Scenes

Morro Rock and a dense eelgrass bed at sunset

    Eelgrass Monitoring Season  Our annual fall eelgrass monitoring process is underway, contributing new data to our efforts to track the health of this valuable natural resource. During the low tide window in early November, the Estuary Program teamed up with several members of the Watershed Stewards Program to visit specific sites in eelgrass beds across the bay and measure the density of eelgrass shoots. By visiting the same sites each year, we can see how the eelgrass beds change over time. Data collected by the Estuary Program in previous years documented a steady decline in eelgrass from 2007 to 2017 as well as a small resurgence that began in 2019. Based on our observations so far, it appears that eelgrass continues to reclaim lost acreage, …

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Field Updates December 2020: Eelgrass Monitoring and Volunteer Monitoring Update

Monitoring eelgrass at a site near Morro Rock in December 2020.

The Morro Bay National Estuary Program’s fieldwork has been deemed an essential service by the County of San Luis Obispo. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, we are not working with volunteers at this time and our field staff are following updated monitoring protocols. We look forward to working with volunteers and other community members again as soon as it is safe for us to do so. Thank you, readers, for staying engaged and supporting the Estuary Program’s work during this difficult time.  Eelgrass Monitoring Anyone who has spent time on the bay this month may have noticed quite a few …

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Field Updates February 2020: Creek and Eelgrass

Creek Water Quality February was a month marked with warm temperatures and low precipitation here in the Morro Bay watershed. In February 2019, the San Luis Obispo CIMIS rain gauge received 7.48 inches of rain, with 57% of days during the month recording rainfall. Comparatively, this year’s rainfall has been much lower, with a February monthly total of 0.01 inches of rain and only one day with rainfall as of February 28. Low precipitation levels have led to low flows in our creeks, as can be seen in this picture of Dairy Creek, a tributary of Chorro Creek. The amount …

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Field Updates, October 2019: Eelgrass Mapping, Ground-truthing, and Cal Poly Partnerships

Andi, eelgrass technician.

  Eelgrass fieldwork depends on tides Fall is a busy eelgrass season for field staff at the Estuary Program. The exact timing of our field work depends on when the good low-tides occur, which varies slightly from year to year. This year, October had a few days that had tides low enough to expose the eelgrass during daylight hours. This doesn’t always happen—sometimes the low tides we need happen after sundown and before sunrise. We were glad to see good tides in combination with good timing because we have a few different projects going on. Monitoring permanent eelgrass plots First …

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Field Updates December 2018: Eelgrass, Wildlife Sightings, Creeks, and Rainfall Totals

Watershed Stewards Program members Melia and Doug work on counting the number of eelgrass shoots within a 0.5m by 0.5m area.

Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and wildlife requires a lot of hard work in the field. At the Estuary Program, that often entails doing research, restoration, and monitoring work out on the estuary and along the creeks that feed into it. Read on to see what we’ve been up to during the past month.  Eelgrass monitoring Each fall, we monitor eelgrass on our permanent transects. These transects are sample areas across the bay where eelgrass has grown historically. We chose the specific locations of the transects to represent different zones in the …

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Factors That Affect Eelgrass Growth in Morro Bay #2: Biological Conditions and Human Factors

    There are a variety of physical, biological, and direct human factors that affect eelgrass growth in estuaries. We have partnered with researchers at Cal Poly and Cuesta College to better understand these conditions in Morro Bay. This blog series, Factors that Affect Eelgrass Growth in Morro Bay, highlights our partners’ research. This second post will introduce you to the biological conditions and human factors that can impact eelgrass in our estuary. You can find the first post on physical conditions that affect eelgrass here.   Biological conditions Disturbance caused by crabs Crabs can disturb eelgrass blades by clipping them. However, …

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Field Updates August 2018: Monitoring Eelgrass Restoration Plots in Morro Bay

This eelgrass plot, transplanted in March of 2017, is thriving.

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of hard work in the field. At the Estuary Program, that often means spending time doing research, restoration, and monitoring work out on the water. Read on to see what we’ve been up to during the past month. This past spring, we were busy planting eelgrass. We planted just over 3,000 eelgrass shoots throughout the estuary. We chose transplant sites where naturally occurring eelgrass was found nearby. The five transplant locations in 2018 represented a range of conditions throughout the …

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Field Updates February 2018: Eelgrass Transplant Videos

One of our longtime volunteers works on harvesting eelgrass blades near Target Rock. Thanks, Marc!

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of hard work in the field. At the Estuary Program, that often means spending time doing research and monitoring work out on the water. Read on to see the progress that our staff and volunteers have made in our eelgrass work during February of 2018.  Our field highlight for February was preparing for and executing our third, small-scale eelgrass restoration. We completed two in 2017—one in March and one in July. Eelgrass was harvested from the healthy bed at Coleman …

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2017 Accomplishments: Eelgrass Restoration Update

Tim, a Watershed Stewards Program member, plants seeds.

  If you have been following along with our blog, you know that eelgrass has drastically declined in Morro Bay since 2007, and that we’ve been working hard to address this issue. Our staff members have been collaborating with agencies, researchers, and volunteers to conduct extensive monitoring and research efforts that will help us better understand eelgrass growth and the conditions that might be impacting it. Read on to learn about our eelgrass restoration work and other eelgrass efforts that we took on in 2017.   Experimental eelgrass transplants and transplant monitoring In 2017, we put the knowledge we have …

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Field Updates November 2017

Our Field Technician, Kelley, and two CalPoly student volunteers work on measuring blade length and taking photos.

    Fulfilling our mission to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary for people and animals requires a lot of hard work in the field. Read on to see what our staff and volunteers have been up to during the month of November. For some people, the big November negative tides provide a great opportunity for going tide pooling or to surf a low tide break. For the Estuary Program, these low tides are the start of our busy fall and winter eelgrass monitoring season. Eelgrass Bed Condition Monitoring This is our third year of conducting an eelgrass survey …

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