Environment

Volunteers sought to help plant eelgrass in Morro Bay

Gloria Montemagni and Gary Ruggerone bunch eelgrass for planting in 2013. A new Cal Poly study shows water quality conditions in some parts of the Morro Bay estuary could be the driving factor in preventing eelgrass recovery.
Gloria Montemagni and Gary Ruggerone bunch eelgrass for planting in 2013. A new Cal Poly study shows water quality conditions in some parts of the Morro Bay estuary could be the driving factor in preventing eelgrass recovery. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The Morro Bay National Estuary Program is looking for volunteers to help plant eelgrass in the bay.

The planting effort is scheduled to start Saturday and continue through Aug. 14. Both onshore workers and scuba divers will be needed.

This is the third year the estuary program has planted eelgrass in the bay. The effort began after eelgrass beds suffered significant declines starting in 2010.

The group hopes to plant 8,000 bundles of eelgrass in the six-day period. Last year, more than 100 volunteers planted 9,775 bundles of eelgrass.

The effort is already paying dividends, said Kathyrn Winfrey, the group’s communications coordinator. Forty-three percent of the bundles that have been planted in previous years have taken root and those are starting to expand.

“We are really excited — things are taking root,” she said.

Volunteers will be asked to work two- to four-hour shifts between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Participants will gain an insight into the science and planning involved in helping to restore eelgrass in the bay.

“There is a lot of interest from the community in the recovery of eelgrass,” Winfrey said. “I hope we can get a great turnout of volunteers for the unique volunteer experience.”

Eelgrass is considered a vital component of the bay’s ecosystem. It creates a habitat for many forms of sea life and is an important food source for black brant geese, which use the bay as a migratory stopping point to and from Canada.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the eelgrass planting, should visit www.mbnep.org or call 772-3834.

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