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32nd Annual Mendocino Coast Whale Festivals


California Gray Whale Checking to See if the Mendocino Whale Festivals Have Started

As Mendocino, Little River and Fort Bragg are getting ready for the 32nd Annual Mendocino Coast Whale Festivals which will be on March 1 & 2 held in the village of Mendocino and March 8 & 9 in Little River and the March 15 & 16 being held in Fort Bragg. But little is known about the slaughter of whales off the coast of Cape Mendocino back in June of 1975.

A Greenpeace Foundation patrol boat located a Russian whaling fleet killing sperm whales and captured dramatic film footage of a canon-fired explosive harpoon flying over their heads and striking a whale.  When the film was broadcast on national TV news, some Mendocino locals were inspired to get involved in stopping the whale slaughter off our shores. Byrd Baker, a local wood sculpture, was probably the one who came up with the name “Mendocino Whale War”. Byrd and friends began campaigning to save whales, and many other locals joined in on the effort. Byrd with other locals formed the Mendocino Whale War Association in December 1975, with Byrd as one of the founding trustees.

Major coverage began early in 1976 with a big feature in the Detroit Free Press which hyped the idea of Mendocino, a small coastal town in California declaring war on Japan and the Soviet Union. This was especially important since this was the height of the Cold War. The Mendocino Whale War Association organized the 1st Whale Festival in Mendocino in March 1976. The goal was to make the public aware that the whales were still being hunted. For the rest of the story click the MENDOCINO WHALE WARS.

Since those early years after the declaration of the “WHALE WARS”, here on the coast of Mendocino we still continue with the efforts of the founding members to educate and keep the public informed and celebrate the migration of the California Gray Whales with their newborn calves from the protected lagoons of western Baja to their ancestral feeding grounds in the cold waters of the Bering Sea. Currently it is estimated that 18,000 – 23,000 individuals will pass by the Mendocino Coast twice each year.

The California Gray Whale travels the longest distance migration of any mammal. This species is the only whale whose year-round habits and whereabouts are well known.

Here is a list of events for the upcoming festivals:

Highlights for the March 1 & 2 Whale Festival held in the village of Mendocino:

  • Wine Tasting: (Saturday only) Taste some of Mendocino County’s finest varietals. 

  • Chowder Tasting (Saturday only) Sample chowder from some of the best chefs on the coast. 

  • Wildlife Art Exhibit: at Mendocino Art Center – Experience the talent of a variety of artists in one room! 

  • Plein-air Artist Display: (Weather permitting) See artists in their natural habitat and in action. 

  • Ford House: Visit this historic house for wildlife exhibits and more

Highlights for the March 8 & 9 Whale Festival held in Little River:

  • Taste of Little River: (Saturday only, 1 – 4) Discover the many flavors of Little River as local gourmet chefs show off their specialties paired with local wines. Advance tickets available at Little River Inn and day of the event at the Andiron. Fundraiser for Mendocino Area Parks Association and the preservation of the Spring Ranch Barns at Van Damme State Park. $25, includes Whale Festival Commemorative wine glass.

  • Whale Watching Walks: Docent-led walks to view majestic California Gray Whales! 

  • Sea Cave Kayak Tours: Explore a side of the coast most visitors don’t experience

Highlights for the March 15 & 16 Whale Festival held in Fort Bragg:

  • Chowder Tasting: $10 (Saturday only). Sample chowders from some of the best chefs on the coast! Tasting will be held at Town Hall (363 N Main Street) between 11:00 am–1:00 pm or until chowder runs out, so get there early! 

  • Beer Tasting: $30 (Saturday only) Taste beer like you have never tasted it before, right here in your own backyard at Eagles Hall in Fort Bragg (210 N Corry); 12:00–4:00 pm.
    Taste a variety of microbrews from all over.

  • 30th Annual 10K/5K Whale Run & Walk: Saturday, March 15, 2013 8 AM. 10K, 5K Run * 5K Competitive Walk * 5K Run Walk * Kiddie Race 7:40 am

  • Crafts Fair: Check out many handmade treasures!

Whale Festival Attractions THROUGHOUT THE MONTH:

  • Whale watching charter boat tours (Noyo Harbor, Fort Bragg)
  • Point Cabrillo Lighthouse
  • Horseback riding on the beach 
  • MacKerricher State Park docent led whale walks  
  • Walking whale watching tours at the Botanical Gardens
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