POINT ARENA, 3/24/21 — It’s whale watching season and there are a few local events coming up to help you see and learn about these giants of the ocean. Gray whales migrate between 10,000 and 14,000 miles round trip to travel from their shallow, warm breeding grounds off the western shore of Baja California, up to the Arctic’s cold, invertebrate rich Bearing, Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Right now, the 42′ to 49′, 90,000 pound species is migrating north, passing right off of Mendocino County’s shores. And soon, baby whales, known as calves and their mothers will start making the journey, hugging the shoreline the entire way, making for ideal viewing opportunities of the magnificent creatures.
Whale events on the horizon
March 27 (6pm virtual event and self guided materials available)
MendoParks is hosting a series of virtual and self guided whale festival activities! Starting this coming Saturday, March 27, free kids activities (complete with prizes) and complimentary whale watching brochures will be available at the Ford House and MacKerricher Visitor Centers. The centers are open daily from 11 p.m. – 4 p.m. MendoParks will also be hosting a live virtual program at 6pm on March 27 featuring education programs and a benefit concert. Tickets are $20 and proceeds benefit MendoParks, a local nonprofit that supports education activities, visitor services and park improvements in our county’s state parks. Tickets can be purchased on the MendoParks website.
Follow this link for more information about the MendoParks events, their gray whale skeleton exhibit, and a video on how to whale watch.
Saturday, April 3 (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.)
Mendonoma Whale and Seal Study is hosting a shore based whale and seabird watch from the bluff trail in the Gualala Point Regional Park.
Seabird and migrating bird biologist Doug Forsil and local marine mammal experts Scott and Tree Mercer and Shari Eby will be on site.
For more information, you can check the Mendonoma Whale and Seal Study Facebook page.
Full press release from Mendo Parks on their whale festival activities
Celebrating the gray whale success story: MendoParks offers Virtual and Self-guided 2021 Whale “Festival” Activities
Join MendoParks in celebrating the gray whale migration: Since 1992, MendoParks and California State Parks have provided educational activities at the annual whale festivals along the Mendocino Coast. From guided whale walks, to the maintenance of the gray whale skeleton at MacKerricher State Park, to whale displays and educational talks, they have celebrated the gray whale migration and enhanced the visitor experience through free educational activities at State Parks along the Mendocino Coast.
This year, MendoParks created a series of virtual and self-guided whale “festival” activities, including a live virtual event on Saturday March 27th, featuring educational programs by California State Park Interpretors and a benefit concert from Mendocino’s own, Steven Bates. Tickets are $20 with proceeds benefiting MendoParks, the 501c3 nonprofit organization that supports State Parks in Mendocino County with educational activities, park improvements, and visitor services.
Free kids activities- complete with prizes- are available at the Ford House (45035 Main Street, Mendocino) and MacKerricher (24100 MacKerricher Park Road, Fort Bragg) Visitor Centers, open daily from 11-4pm. Complimentary whale watching brochures are available at the Ford House Visitor Center and the MacKerricher Visitor Center (downloadable PDF available at MendoParks.org), featuring educational information and best whale watching locations at State Parks:
- MacKerricher State Park/ Laguna Point
- Jug Handle State Natural Reserve
- Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park
- Mendocino Headlands
- Van Damme State Park/ Spring Ranch
A “How to Whale Watch on the Mendocino Coast” video is available at MendoParks.org, and an outdoor whale exhibit is on display at the Mendocino Headlands State Park outside of the Ford House Visitor Center.
Gray whale skeleton exhibit at MacKerricher State Park: In the early 1990s, Rouvaishyana Polay, a State Parks Interpretive Specialist, led a team of volunteers to collect whale bones that washed up on the beach and articulated them into one complete skeleton. MendoParks funded his position and paid for interpretive supplies as well as provided volunteer support. The gray whale skeleton has been on display outside the MacKerricher State Park Visitor Center ever since, with MendoParks funding the annual maintenance of this natural history exhibit. Traditionally, the annual whale festival at MacKerricher would include a time for volunteers- both visiting and local- to participate in the annual painting and maintenance of the skeleton. The display is a local treasure but is often overlooked as many visitors enter the park via the Mill Creek entrance, completely bypassing the visitor center (which features an incredible natural history display) as well as the outdoor gray whale skeleton articulation. From Highway 1 in Fort Bragg, head west to enter the park at 24100 MacKerricher Park Road. There will be an entrance sign to the park which will guide you up the road into the park from the main entrance. The gray whale skeleton is on display on the right as you enter the kiosk area. Parking is available on the left side of the kiosk for access to the skeleton and visitor center.
To purchase tickets for the March 27th event, and for information on all of MendoParks whale “festival” activities, please visit MendoParks.org