The Noyo Center for Marine Science Presents Fort Bragg Whale Festival Events

The Noyo Center for Marine Science will be presenting some great events at the Fort Bragg Whale Festival, March 19-20, 2016 — bring your family and friends, and enjoy science talks, eco-art, an exhibit of ocean trash art by kids, a potluck dinner and the Matt Coleman Environmental Service Award Ceremony honoring Noyo Center Executive Director Sheila Semans, and more!
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Noyo LogoThe Noyo Center for Marine Science will be presenting the following events this weekend, at the Fort Bragg Whale Festival, March 19-20, 2016 — and you’re invited to bring your family and friends:

Noyo Center for Marine ScienceSaturday, March 19th, 10:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. PDT: 3rd Annual Marine Art and Science Fair.  Come see amazing projects by local school kids, on the theme of Ocean Trash.
Location: Old Recreation Center Gym, Laurel and Franklin Streets, Fort Bragg.

Saturday, March 19th, 10:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m. PDT: Gray Whale Migration Scavenger Hunt (starts at the same location)

Saturday, March 19th, 4:00-5:30 p.m. PDT: Science Talk: Bottlenose Dolphin and Harbor Porpoises, by Bill Keener and Jon Stern
Location: Town Hall, Highway 1 at Laurel Street, Fort Bragg.

Golden Gate Cetacean Research biologists Bill Keener and Jon Stern will present the results of their latest research on the bottlenose dolphins and harbor porpoises of Northern California. Their team has been studying both species, from shore and boat for the past 6 years. They have compiled the first photo-identification catalog for the local bottlenose dolphins, opening a window into the lives of individual animals.

They will share their observations about the dolphins’ continued northward range expansion that is now bringing them to the Sonoma and Mendocino coasts. They will also share the story of the unexpected return of harbor porpoises to San Francisco Bay. Learn about changes to our marine ecosystem and what this may mean for our coast. Here’s your chance to find out the difference between a dolphin and a porpoise, where to see these fascinating creatures, and what you can do to help in the study of marine mammals.

About the Presenters:

William Keener

Bill is the former Executive Director of the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands.  His experience includes work as a field observer for a harbor porpoise population study in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary conducted from 1987-1989.

Jonathan Stern, Ph.D.

Jon is a biology professor at San Francisco State University.  He studied minke whales in the Northeast Pacific Ocean, and conducted research on killer, pilot, fin, humpback and gray whales, as well as bottlenose dolphins. He served as the Conservation Chair for the National Board of Directors for the American Cetacean Society.

Whale House exterior
Proposed view of the outside of Whale House

Environmental Potluck and Award Ceremony

Join us on Saturday, March 19th, from 6:00-8:00 p.m., as the local Fort Bragg environmental community honors Sheila Semans, Executive Director of the Noyo Center for Marine Sciences, and the recipient of this year’s Matt Coleman Environmental Service award.  Come hear Sheila talk about plans for the Noyo Center; and Marie Jones will discuss engaging the community in the creation of the new Fort Bragg Coastal Trail.

Special Guest: Congressman Jared Huffman will present the award.

Location: Russian Gulch State Park Recreation Hall. Please bring your friends and a dish to share.


Mendocino Eco-Artists
Ongoing Exhibition: March 4-27th, 2016, Thursdays-Sundays, 11:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. PDT

Mendocino Eco-Artists (MEA) and Flockworks present a new, special exhibit of fine art, Watershed Visions, which benefits the development and construction of the new Noyo Center for Marine Science.

MEA is a group of professional artists who have come together to promote the conservation and restoration of the local environment.

Location: Odd Fellows Hall, Kasten and Ukiah Streets, Mendocino


Noyo Center

The Noyo Center for Marine Science recently welcomed their new Board President,  Peter O’Donahue, who recently introduced himself to the local community with the following comments in a recent issue of the organization’s newsletter [quote]:

Having recently taken on the role of Noyo Center’s Board President I want to, first, thank Dave Alden, a noted local attorney, environmental activist and musician who has ably presided over the Board for the past fifteen months and, second, share with you, our supporters and members, a few words about myself and what I hope the Noyo Center will be able to accomplish going forward over the next year or so.

Myself, I’m a relative newcomer to the North Coast, having moved here two years ago after completing a thirty year career with the U.S. State Department.  My early years were spent on the Atlantic, having grown up on a New England harbor famous for its oysters.  My formative years imbued me with a deep love for the ocean and its creatures and my working years provided me with many opportunities to be involved with environmental causes ranging from fisheries disputes in the Atlantic to forestry management in Africa and wildlife conservation in India. It was quite an adventure!

So what brought me to Fort Bragg and to the Noyo Center?  It’s simple, really.  Approaching retirement (and having considered retirement locations all over North America), a son residing in the Bay Area urged me to consider the Mendocino Coast.  Taking his advice, my wife and I visited the area and never looked back.  What sold us?  Well, the majestic beauty of the region, to be sure. But it was more than that.  It was very much a sense that Fort Bragg, a town that had taken some economic knocks, was a town with a vision and a future, and an appreciation  that that future would rest on wise management of the extraordinary gifts that Nature has bestowed on us.

In the two years since we settled here, including a year on the Noyo Center Board, my early impressions have proved well-founded.  Look at what’s happened in that short span of time!  For one thing, the opening of the north and south sections of the coastal trail system has opened up access to the extraordinary Fort Bragg coastline to all for the first time in over a century.  The results have been astonishing.  Go to either trail section on any day and what do you find?  Dozens of hikers, bikers, dog walkers, skaters and others — locals and distant visitors — basking in the beauty of their coast and acquiring a new appreciation for all the sea has to offer.

And the Noyo Center?  Let me tell you, folks, we have a dedicated and knowledgeable staff led by Executive Director Sheila Semans, and an equally dedicated cadre of Board members who are determined to bring the dream of a local, first-class marine science center to fruition.  We know it will take time, and money, and lots of effort, but it’s something the community wants and it’s happening.  Already we have the basis for an extraordinary sea mammal collection — the skeletons of a 73ft Blue Whale, a 26ft Orca and two beautifully articulated sea lions.  We have a fully up-and-running (and expanding) education program that is inspiring a whole young generation of county residents to better understand “their” ocean, and we have a wonderful 11.5 acre site for our future facility out on the new south trail.  Soon we will be opening a small visitor center, call the “Crow’s Nest” on-site where we can begin to house exhibits and conduct education sessions and soon we hope to have the funds to “articulate” our Orca skeleton — the largest in North America — and prepare it for display. The eventual premier facility we envision is a ways off, admittedly, but it’s a good start and marks remarkable progress for the Noyo Center in a short time.

Our real need now is to expand the base of support for the Noyo Center to all those in California and beyond who care about marine education and conservation, and we are working hard to reach that universe of concerned citizens and donors (yes, realizing the dream will take require some hefty dollars).  In coming months we look forward to a series of fun events (stay tuned) that will seek to inform and educate while simultaneously expanding our base of support until, like the widening ripples from a stone tossed into the Pacific, our goal is fulfilled.  In the interim, dear members, we count on your continuing interest, ideas, and support.  We all believe that working together, we will get there.

Whale House
Overhead view of the proposed Whale House

For more information about the vision, plans, and fundraising campaign for the Noyo Center for Marine Science, visit their web site, and you can read about it on our blog. Watch for update posts in the coming year!

A Gray Whale - photo courtesy of Johanna Jensen

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