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Eyes on Morro Bay: San Luis Obispo MPA Collaborative

June 5 2018

Designated in 2007 as part of the Central California Marine Protected Areas.Morro Bay is an important resting and foraging ground for migratory birds using the Pacific Flyway. Large and diverse invertebrate populations inhabit the mudflats of the Bay; fish use the Bay as a nursery ground and dense meadows of eelgrass support a highly productive environment. There are sea otters, a threatened species, in the harbor. Morro rock is the nesting home of peregrine falcons, and the estuary is home to three species of smaller sharks, the horn shark, leopard shark, and the swell shark. The Bay also supports a variety of recreational activities such as bird watching, sea kayaking and stand up paddle-boarding.

June 5 2018


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Expedition Background

The MPA Collaborative in San Luis Obispo County, CA is looking forward to using the Trident ROV add scientific and educational value by employing an underwater drone for real-time, live observations to ongoing and planned projects. It is the intention of the San Luis Obispo MPA Collaborative to make the Trident ROV available for use through a “Lending Library” format. Approved and trained users would be able to check out the equipment for deployment in a variety of underwater exploration.

Working with interns from California Polytechnic State University, Collaborator San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper teams have previously conducted eel grass studies; invasive species research; storm water discharge and trash/plastics investigations in Morro Bay. SLO Coastkeeper intends to use the Trident ROV to update these studies to add scientific and to these investigations as soon as they become available through the Collaborative.

In addition, the Morro Bay estuary is home to three species of smaller sharks; the horn shark, leopard shark, and the swell shark. These are slower-swimming sharks that prefer shallower waters that often let their food come to them. SLO Coastkeeper has considered studies of these species but has not had the ability to adequately pursue surveys. The use of a Trident ROV would make expeditions to gather data on habitat use and behavioral observations related to breeding in the shallow back-bay areas of Morro Bay and estuary practical.

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