Whalefest draws closer

The 2013 Whalefest logo and slogan was designed by Stacy Studebaker. Studebaker, a retired biology teacher, was instrumental in the Kodiak Gray Whale Project, which resulted in the installation of a full gray whale skeleton in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. (Image courtesy Stacy Studebaker)

Spectators crowded the Kodiak waterfront last week to catch a glimpse of a pair of orcas accompanied by a calf.

The first significant whale sighting of the year means Kodiak’s annual spring cetacean celebration — Kodiak Whale Fest — isn’t far away, and the event’s new logo is making a splash.

Designed by retired Kodiak High School biology teacher Stacy Studebaker, the logo shows a pod of gray whales emblazoned with the flags of Mexico, the United States, Canada and Alaska. Accompanying the pod is the slogan “Migration Without Borders” in both English and Spanish.

“I created this design to honor the Eastern Pacific Gray Whales (whose) international migration between breeding and feeding habitat brings them past Kodiak every spring and is the basis for the timing of Whale Fest Kodiak,” said Studebaker by email.

Studebaker has a long association with gray whales. In 2000, she watched a dead gray whale float ashore in Pasagshak Bay, where she and her husband have a cabin.

Studebaker organized a community effort to recover the whale’s skeleton and install it in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, a process that took seven years.

This year, she combined her artistic skill with her love of whales to come up with the logo that will be emblazoned on T-shirts and stickers promoting the festival.

“The idea of putting the four flags on the whale, like most of my creative ideas, popped into my head one day while I was on my daily hike through Abercrombie,” she wrote.

Studebaker acknowledged that the logo and slogan might be controversial in light of national immigration debates, but she said it’s important to remember that gray whales come from the waters off Mexico, and their 12,000-mile migration to Alaska should be recognized.

“I have been to the gray whale birthing/breeding lagoons in Baja, Mexico a half-dozen times over the last 15 years and feel that their Mexican "roots" should be honored, especially right now with all the national attention on immigration reform,” she wrote. “People sometimes call them ‘California Gray Whales,’ but because of their birthplace they are really ‘Mexican Gray Whales,’ hence the bilingual titles.”

Whale Fest Kodiak is scheduled to run from April 19 to April 29. For more information about Whale Fest events, visit www.whalefestkodiak.com. To report a whale sighting, call Pam Foreman of KMXT-FM at 486-3181.

Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at editor@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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