2018 Lighthouse Lecture Series

Point Arena Lighthouse is pleased to present the fifth season of the popular Lighthouse Lecture Series. Each presentation takes place in the Fog Signal Building Museum on the third Saturday of the month and features a local naturalist, historian, volunteer or expert presenting on topics of public interest relevant to the Lighthouse or our area. Lectures in September through May will begin at 4 p.m. lectures in June through August will begin at 5 p.m.  All lectures last approximately one hour. This year’s lineup is as follows:

Saturday, January 20, 4 p.m.  – Isaac Rios on Through Native Eyes – Presented

Saturday, February 17, 4 p.m. – Jodi Smith on Even Whales Do It: Sex, Mating, and Menopause among Fish-Eating Killer Whales – Presented

Saturday, March 17, 4 p.m. – Sara Bogard on From Captivity to Open Ocean – Presented

Saturday, April 21, 4 p.m. – Scott Mercer on Whale Research and the 2018 Gray Whale Census

Saturday, May 19, 4 p.m. – Nancy Morin on Point Arena Lighthouse Wildflower Wonderland

Saturday, June 16, 5 p.m. – Tom Cochrane on The Geology Around the Point Arena Lighthouse

Saturday, July 21, 5 p.m. – Michael Combs on Logging on the Coast, from a Part-Time Logger’s Perspective

Saturday, August 4, 5 p.m. – Nik Epanchin on Restoration of the Point Arena Lighthouse

Saturday, August 25, 5 p.m. – Jeanne Jackson on Nature Sightings at the Point Arena Lighthouse

Saturday, September 15, 4 p.m. – Eric Wilder & Family, topic TBD

Saturday, October 20, 4 p.m. – Judy Bryan Mello on Giraffes

Saturday, November 17, 4 p.m. – Cea Higgins on Farallones Marine Sanctuary & Coastwalk

Saturday, December 16, 4 p.m. – Hank Bernbaum & Song Hunter on Metini-Fort Ross Cultural History

Admission to all lectures is $5 per person, with the proceeds benefiting the Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers, Inc.  To make reservations or for more information on our lecture series and other special events, see our Calendar of Events or call the Lighthouse at 707-882-2809 extension 1.

Spotlight On Our Next Lecture

Saturday, April 21 at 4 p.m.

On Saturday, April 21, 2018 at 4 p.m. Scott Mercer will present “Whale Research and the 2018 Gray Whale Census.”  In this presentation Scott will report on whale research projects undertaken by Mendonoma Whale and Seal Study this past year along the Sonoma and Mendocino Coasts.  He will present the outcome of their various efforts including the diversity of toothed and baleen whales on this coast, the year-round presence and behavior of gray whales on the local coast, photo identification, and the results of their 2018 gray whale migration census. Additionally, new information from other research groups, on grays and other whale species, will be offered.

Photo by Peggy Berryhill

Scott Mercer has studied marine mammals, especially whales, since 1974. He is a major contributor to the photo identification catalogs of North Atlantic humpback, finback, and right whales. He has done extensive aerial and shipboard surveys, as well as conducted research in the Caribbean, throughout the Western North Atlantic, and the Canadian Maritimes. He has taught marine mammal biology, marine ecology, zoology, earth science, and shipboard field classes at the college level. Scott has presented data at major conferences and symposiums.  He has published three books including The Great Whale Book and Whalehead Nation. In 1978 he founded New England Whale Watch, Inc. to get on the ocean daily for six months, in addition to off-season research. Scott is co-founder of a marine research station in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Future Lectures

On Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 4 p.m. Nancy R. Morin will present “Point Arena Lighthouse Wildflower Wonderland” as part of the Lighthouse Lecture Series.  The land immediately around the Point Arena Lighthouse has been protected from grazing for many years and hosts one of the best displays of coastal bluff shrubs and grassland wildflowers on the coast. Just beyond the lighthouse there is also a surprising diversity of other habitats, with wetlands, moist banks, woodlands, and various grassland types. There are exciting and beautiful plants to discover throughout the year in our area.

Nancy received her Ph.D. in Botany at University of California Berkeley, was a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian, then worked in various positions at Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis for 15 years, after which she was Executive Director of the professional organization for botanical gardens and then executive director at The Arboretum at Flagstaff. She moved to Point Arena full time in 2004 to continue her research on the bellflower family and to work on a massive multi-institutional project to publish a Flora of North America north of Mexico. She is president of the local chapter of the California Native Plant Society and president of Friends of Coast Community Library.

On Saturday, June 16 at 5 p.m. geologist Tom Cochrane will present “The Geology Around the Point Arena Lighthouse” as part of the Lighthouse Lecture Series.  Tom will be reviewing the past and present threats to the Point Arena Lighthouse area:  erosion, sea level rise, offshore and onshore oil drilling, as well as the history of the proposed nuclear power plant.

Thomas E. Cochrane is a CA Professional Geologist (License #6124) who’s lived and worked on The Sea Ranch since 1988. Having begun his career as a teacher, he speaks frequently on local geology and plate tectonics. His recently-published book, Shaping the Sonoma-Mendocino Coast – Exploring the Coastal Geology of Northern California (River Beach Press, 2017, 156 pgs., $19.95) is available at over 45 retailers in Sonoma and Mendocino counties and was just named the #1 bestselling book of 2017 at Four-Eyed Frog Books in Gualala. To learn more please visit River Beach Press.

On Saturday, July 21 at 5 p.m. long time coastal resident Michael B. Combs will present “Logging on the Coast, from a Part-Time Logger’s Perspective” as part of the Lighthouse Lecture Series.  Michael’s history here on the coast and his and his family’s association with its logging industry will be the focus of the presentation, as Michael explains:

“My family moved to Point Arena in 1949 when I was in the 2nd Grade. We lived for a while in the old abandoned high school building across from the Catholic Church, and later built our own home behind the Elementary School. My younger brother Ron and I helped build our home, using a borrowed plow horse and Fresno scraper to dig a full sized basement. When we arrived in 1949, Pop worked for Empire Redwood in Gualala, setting chokers in the Wheatfield Forks area. After that, he worked for several other logging companies in a variety of positions, and eventually became the millwright for Bojock Lumber Company, near Irish Beach. I worked a month at Bojock in 1964 on leave from the Air Force, worked the summer of 1961 for the veneer mill on Biaggi Lane, Manchester, and accompanied Pop several times when he worked on the log pond for Diamatine Brothers Logging Co., on Brush Creek, Piper Ranch. I knew many of the loggers and heard their stories as I grew up in Point Arena, 1949-1960.”

After graduation from Point Arena High in 1960, Michael went to Humboldt State a year, Santa Rosa Junior College a year, then the Air Force for 21.5 years – married his high school sweetheart Marilynn (had three sons) – and attended five other colleges while in the Air Force. He started as a Russian linguist, then became a Budget and Finance Officer and Internal Auditor. After 14 moves, an MBA and CPA, Michael retired from the Air Force and worked at Lockheed, Sunnyvale, for ten years, then on to some other jobs including Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, and Nummi, Fremont. Marilynn died of breast cancer in 1988 just after their 25th anniversary, and he chose Alice from a book and they married in 1989. Michael retired in 1998 and he and Alice moved to Gualala, which they love over all places, while traveling quite a bit and loving coming home.