Invertebrates Database

Gammaridean Amphipods

Principal Scientist:

  Lisa Needles, MS
For further information contact:

  Melissa Locke, JD

Invasive Species

Morro Bay's coastline is one the most ecologically diverse areas along California's Central Coast. While native wildlife is largely thriving, there is an increasing threat from the influx of harmful non-native species arriving in the bay.

Non-native species travel to Morro Bay on the hulls of ships and thrive in its rich waters. These invasive species can wreak havoc on the ecosystem by disrupting the food supply for native species - and even forcing some species into local extinction. They can also take a toll on the economy by damaging infrastructure like pier pilings and industrial facilities.

The Morro Bay estuary is starting to show effects from a growing population of non-native species that are pushing out important native wildlife. It is critical to assess the current problem and find ways to keep harmful species from invading the Morro Bay ecosystem.

SLOSEA's Approach:

The San Luis Obispo Science and Ecosystem Alliance (SLOSEA) is working to preserve the native wildlife in Morro Bay and surrounding communities by:

  • Gathering research on why some native species are more vulnerable to the influx of non-native species, and how non-natives are impacting the Morro Bay ecosystem.
  • Studying the local mussel communities in Morro Bay to determine what is causing their decline and how to bring them back to full health.
  • Creating partnerships with the Morro Bay National Estuary Program to develop early detection programs for non-native species to control their spread in Morro Bay. Early detection programs are key to keeping the most harmful species from taking over, since once they are fully established in an ecosystem, they are difficult to remove.
  • Recommending management strategies to deal with the most problematic invaders.

In Morro Bay, better policies will protect the valuable wildlife here and offer model programs for researchers and policymakers in other areas with similar challenges.

Morro Bay's Invasive Species

One of the most prominent invasive species in Morro Bay is Watersipora subtorquata, a type of Red Bryozoan. It is commonly found fouling our piers and taking up residence where other native marine organisms such as oysters once found homes.

For a comprehensive list of other Morro Bay Invaders click here for more information.