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Mendocino Whale Watch

I started my whale watch just down the street from my digs at the Mendocino Art Center at the Mendocino Headlands State Park.

I set up my scope at 7:45 AM and looked for blows just below the horizon.

I looked and I looked. I looked at gulls and I looked at oystercatchers and I looked at the constant stream of common murres heading south.

But no blows.

I looked at a bottling harbor seal and I looked at the lone snow goose on a bluff to the north, and I even turned around to look at the perched white-tail kite and harrier.

Where were the migrating gray whales? Perhaps I was too early.

Perhaps there was a gap in the southern stream of pregnant females on their journey to the birthing lagoons of Baja California. Or maybe they were farther off, just on the other side of the curvature of the earth. But whatever it was, after two mornings of whale watching, I saw zero whales.

The plus of being a sketcher is that you are never bored, and if you have a pen and sketchbook handy, you can pass the time with a sketch (featured sketch).

This sign at Point Carrillo Light Station was one of my better “whale” sightings.
This gray whale mural in a back alley in Fort Bragg was probably the “best” whale sighting of the trip!
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Point Cabrillo Light Station

After a whale watch, sans whales (let’s just call it a sea watch), I headed a few minutes north on Highway One to a lighthouse.

I parked and walked west for half a mile and the lighthouse came into view.

This is the Point Cabrillo Light Station. The lighthouse, which looks more like a house with a light attached it, was built in 1909. The building houses the foghorn but is not in use today.

I walked around the lighthouse and started a sketch. I didn’t like it so I moved to another angle, changed pens and I produced one of my favorite sketches of my Mendo trip. 

Sometimes changing position and pens can propel you on a different direction, a different perspective, and a better sketch. Sometimes it make a difference to pass and move!

And I sure like the result.

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Orca Bones of Fort Bragg

The great thing about sketching bones is that they don’t move.

And there is a set of bones that I wanted to sketch in Fort Bragg. These are the bones of a male orca or killer whale. The orca (Orcinus orca) is not a whale but the world’s largest dolphin and these bones are from one of the largest specimen.

These impressive bones are to be found at the Noyo Center for Marine Science on Main Street (Highway One), in Fort Bragg, across the street from the Guest House Museum.

This orca was trapped in some netting off the Mendocino County Coast. In the summer of 2017, the skeleton was articulated or put together by experts ranging as far away as Alaska and Canada who came to Ft. Bragg to give the orca skeleton “life”. It’s the impressive centerpiece of the museum’s collection.

An orca sighting at Point Cabrillo Light Station. And the answer is “Yes!”
The male orca skeleton at the Noyo Center in historic downtown Fort Bragg. This is one killer dolphin!!