Harbor Seals

Artist: Nicola Beatts

Location: 203 N Main Street. Behind Napa Auto Parts

Inspiration for this installation

When we first looked at this corrugated steel wall, we thought there was no way anyone could install any design that wasn’t geometric due to those vertical lines. But Nicola Beatts was undaunted. She is locally famous for her marine mammal artwork at locations such as the Noyo Center for Marine Sciences and the alleyway behind Roundman’s Smokehouse and she had a vision for this wall. Her proposal was a warm underwater sunset, with blue harbor seals pausing in their ocean frolics as if they are observing the viewer curiously, as bull kelp sways in the currents before a white mandala of solar radiation.

When she is not blowing us away with her mural talents Nicola is often found at Triangle Tattoo. Check our her instagram here…

This was Nicola’s original design mockup.

Who loves marine mammals? We do! We do!

If you are standing in front of this mural you are just steps away from an entrance to the headlands trail. Just off this coast, under the waves is a kelp forest – or at least there used to be.

Both Nicola and the Alleyway Art Project are thrilled to be partnering with The Nature Conservancy to bring some much-needed attention to our local kelp forests.

Learn more about The Nature Conservancy and their work locally and globally here…

California’s incredible kelp forests are a critical ecosystem that is more productive than the Amazon rainforest. A breeding ground for more than 1000 species, they act as a protective blanket for our iconic beaches and have an immense impact on jobs and revenue for our state.

But a perfect storm has destroyed 96% of kelp forests on California’s North Coast.

The combination of warming ocean temperatures and a deadly virus has led to the die off of the sunflower sea star, which has set off a chain reaction resulting in massive loss for kelp.

Sunflower sea stars eat purple urchin, and without enough sea stars, the urchin population has exploded to 60 times its usual size. Purple urchin feed on kelp and this ballooning population has eaten its way through much of the kelp forest, resulting in what could be permanent damage to the ecosystem if we don’t find a way to rebalance these species.

Climate-driven changes like those on the North Coast are leading to a massive die-off of kelp forests not only in California, but in places like Australia, Norway and Chile. TNC is committed to leading the way to address this global conservation threat by advancing solutions for protecting kelp forests in California and around the world.


Summer sun illuminates icy seas
Where seals carry fire in their hearts
Each journey is painted with bubbles and kelp
Across an endless horizon of dreams
Shadow swimmers
Harbor drifters
Deep divers
Fish lovers
Wave surfers
Ocean guardians
Oh, salty creatures of our planet—
Fragile, agile,
May you swim forever
Around our blue planet, our bronze sun.

by Karen Lewis
California Poets in the Schools

Poetry and Prose generously donated by members of Writers of the Mendocino CoastLearn more about this fantastic group!