Grey Whale Island

Artist: Nicola Beatts

Location: In the alley behind Roundman's Smokehouse. Turn north off of Laurel Ave between Main and Franklin. It's right near the sock shop.

Nicola has become one of Fort Bragg’s most prolific muralists. Look for her mural of Harbor Seals behind Napa Auto Parts, a mural of an orca and harbor seal in the Noyo Center for Marine Sciences on Main St., and coming soon – a mural of brewery equipment, hops and butterflies on the side of Tall Guy Brewery. 

You can often find Nicola working at Triangle Tattoo. Follow her instagram here to keep updated on her artwork and adventures.

Inspiration for this installation

Roundman’s Smokehouse commissioned and funded this mural. Their only request was for a compact design that represented our part of the coast.

Nicola chose the elements of a whale and a forest because they are two of her favorite things in the area. She was born in Scotland, but moved to the Bay Area as a teenager, and then up to Chico. She’s only sort of joking when she says she moved to Fort Bragg from Chico to get away from the sunshine. Mostly, she just missed living near a coast.

As a kid in Scotland you can see whales off the coast, so it was pretty neat to come to the other side of the planet and see the same thing. The oceans are all quite  interconnected. I liked the idea of portraying the biological interconnectedness of these two adjacent but very different ecosystems, the oceans and the redwoods. In my experience living hee, it feels like the ocean and forest are on top of each other..”


From November to February, the California Gray Whales can be seen migrating south to Baja. There, the pregnant females give birth. Starting in February and March, the whales migrate back north to Alaska with their newborn calves.

There are lots of great places to watch whales, but my personal favorite is from the very tip of MacKerricher state park’s boardwalk out on the headlands.

Those white dots on the whale’s back are barnacles. There is one species of barnacle and three species of whale lice that live on the gray whale. The barnacle (Cryptolepas rhachianecti) is unique to the gray whale, and of the three species of whale lice (in the genus Cyamus), two are found only on gray whales.

Here’s some more about grey whales from our friends at the Noyo Center for Marine Science