DISCOVER MAGNIFICENT MORRO ROCKExplore the beauty of Morro Rock and learn about its geology and history and the species that live on and around the rock. Meet near the rest rooms at the northeast parking lot in front of the Rock. Bring binoculars and a jacket. (E) .5 mi., 1-1.5 hours





I.                    INTRODUCTION AND THEME (near the rest rooms)

        Welcome and Introductions

        Hand out binoculars

        THEME: Magnificent Morro Rock, standing as a sentinel at the entrance to Morro Bay harbor for centuries, supports a unique ecosystem and several endangered and threatened species that live in its shadow. Please enjoy your visit here and help us preserve its beauty and its many species for future generations.

        The name El Moro or Morro – domed turban or knoll

        The nine sisters – the Morros of San Luis Obispo County



(Move to Morro Strand State Beach near the rock and the water)

        The Rock and its sisters were born 20+ million years ago in Southern California near Baja.

        Plate tectonics simply put.

        Composed mainly of igneous dacite rock.

        Chumash Indians used the Rock as nautical landmark and revered it.

        First European Juan Cabrillo sights the Rock in mid-1500s.

        Portola land expedition from San Diego to Monterey encounters the Rock about 200 years later. The Rock was noted as an island then.

        Man’s degradation of the rock, blasting begins in 1891 (blasting party).

        Northern entrance closed, causeway built 1933-36.

        Blasting ends in 1963 more than 70 years after it began, 20 percent of the rock removed

        The Rock becomes a California State Historical Landmark in 1968 and five years later an Ecological and Natural Preserve protecting the endangered Peregrine Falcon

        Peregrine Falcon facts (color, weight, wingspan) & photo (observe nest on this side if in season) Discuss brush with extinction due to DDT & what can we do to help the Peregrine falcon.  There were 2 nests with 4 fledglings this year (2002) and in 2001.

        Mention the Western Snowy Plover (photo) ,a threatened species nesting on Morro Strand State Beach  and the sand spit

        Show where the tide pool is located on this side of the rock (observe creatures if at minus tide).



 (Move to the path head on the northeast side of the rock)


        Observe chaparral vegetation, warning about climbing and fire danger from cigarettes. Mention the butterflies, moths & dragonflies that visit.

        Observe gull and cormorant nests visible here and cormorants on Pillar Rock

        Cormorant facts (photo) – heavy fishing bird, see them drying out wings.

        Show and handle the dacite rock material that the Rock is made of.



(Move to the parking area on the side of the road facing the harbor near the kelp beds)


        Sea otters may be present – Facts about sea otters (photo).  Member of weasel family took to the sea. Fur, eating habits, size, mating, pups, etc. Threatened species, number & location.  What can we do to help the sea otters and other marine mammals.

        Facts about harbor seals (photo) – color & where to see them.

        Morro Bay  - town history

1.      Franklin Riley founds town of Morro - 1870

2.      Rev. Alden B. Spooner I

3.      Incorporation as city of Morro Bay (1964)

        Other birds visible

        Brown & white pelicans

        Egrets & great blue herons double crested cormorants and black crowned night herons and the rookery

        Audubon Christmas count and other bird species

        Other animals, butterflies & insects

        Duke Energy plant

        The Sand spit – Morro Dunes Natural Preserve (brown pelicans & snowy plover)



(Walk to rocky area above the beach and near the breakwater – show Peregrine nest))


        Danger of harbor entrance and information about wave trains

        Morro harbor facts and dredging requirements due to silting and shifting sand. Discuss influence of the manmade breakwaters and closure of the north passage.

        Times that the gray whale passes the coast & whale watching from Morro Bay

        Sea lion visits Bay and humpback whales off beach and rock during anchovy season and elephant seal  viewing site.

        Holes in Morro Rock on this side, nesting birds and bird droppings as fertilizer.

        What can we do to help the birds and animals living in the shadow of the Rock?


VI.              CONCLUSION

(Return to starting point or at harbor entrance area)


        Thank you for visiting Morro Rock

        Remember that the Rock supports a unique environment and several endangered and threatened species that live in its shadow. Please enjoy your visit here and help us preserve the Rock and the animals that live here for future generations to enjoy.

        Retrieve binoculars, answer any other questions

        Handout CCNHA newsletter, application

        Other handouts (Welcome map. Morro Bay National & State Estuary)

        Encourage a visit to the museum – directions

        Come again




Gates & Bailey, Morro Bay’s Yesterdays

Krause, Anthony, Wildlife Watches Guide to San Luis Obispo County

Dickerson, Sharon, Mountains of Fire


Items needed:

(Refer to the Morro Walk photo archive (this is a password protected directory only, no web page) of photos for docent training and visitor education for Morro Rock walk (docents can request a user-id and password to browse this directory))

Photos of:

        Peregrine falcon

        Snowy plover

        Sea otter

        Harbor seal

        Gray whale/ humpback whale

        Sea lions & elephant seal

        Blasting at Morro Rock

        Morro Rock without causeway and breakwaters

        Morro Rock after


CCNHA newsletters

Other handouts Docent Pages
Revised Monday, February 18, 2008 01:27:43 PM