Report #2: West Seattle goes wild for a shore-hugging gray whale

March 27, 2010 at 7:59 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle video, Wildlife | 14 Comments

(Our first report, with morning sightings, photos and video, can be found here)

Any closer, and it would have needed a reservation for a table. That’s video we got via iPhone about an hour ago, when the gray whale that’s been hugging West Seattle shores all day turned up just west of Salty’s on Alki. As noted in our first report this morning, it was sighted south of Brace Point in the 7 o’clock hour, then made its way slowly up along Lincoln Park, Lowman Beach, Beach Drive, Alki Point, then turning into Elliott Bay, where it picked up quite a fan base on shore:

That’s what we found when we first pulled over by Anchor Park (see the anchor in the foreground – this is also known as Luna Park since part of the old amusement park’s natatorium used to be under that pier). As the whale moved eastward into the bay, the crowd moved with it. We lost track of it when it went under for an extended time after the Royal Argosy passed by Salty’s. If you’ve got photos/video to share, we’d love to add more – meantime, the two people who shared photos earlier have shared more – first, two from Trileigh – no, we don’t know what the orange spot is in the closeup:

And from Rick:

As for whether the whale’s OK or not – we know at least one citywide-media friend was trying to track down experts. Certainly they are seen around here from time to time. Again, our earlier report with more photos and video is here.

1:12 AM UPDATE: We gave up the whale watch for the night just before dusk but a hardy crowd has stayed out looking – and been rewarded with sightings off Jack Block Park. Josh Trujillo of seattlepi.com has published amazing shots – check them out here. And depending on who else is out overnight, you can follow the Twitter hashtag #alkiwhale to get the latest.

14 Comments

  1. Thanks for all the up to date sightings, I hope this guy is ok.

    Comment by J — 8:10 pm March 27, 2010 #

  2. A commenter on the 1st story said it was off Jack Block at 7:45 as it got dark. Will anxiously await any morning news – TR

    Comment by WSB — 8:11 pm March 27, 2010 #

  3. Awesome pics !!!!! Thanks for sharing …..

    Comment by jennifer — 8:14 pm March 27, 2010 #

  4. The orange spot is a common algae growth on whales. Whales have numerous algae and even barnacle growths on their bodies.
    Secondly, you referred to this animal as an ‘orca’ which it most certainlly is not. Eschrichtius robustus is the grey whale. Orcinus orca is the Killer whale, commonly referred to as ‘Orca’.
    Third, the whale is exhibiting no unusual behavior and is likely simply hungry like all our stressed out ocean mammals.
    Great coverage! You guys do an awesome job!

    Comment by Lee Kelly — 8:33 pm March 27, 2010 #

  5. Lee, the “orca” was a total typo/slip after a long day, we knew it wasn’t an orca, sorry about that, and thanks to Kelly for pointing it out in e-mail – I wasn’t able to correct it immediately. I do also know about the barnacles, having seen grays in California and BC waters too, but the orange was something I hadn’t seen before … thanks for the explanation – TR

    Comment by WSB — 12:08 am March 28, 2010 #

  6. Has anyone seen the whale this morning? I was hoping to take my kids out to see it today.

    Comment by David — 8:20 am March 28, 2010 #

  7. We haven’t received any reports yet via any of our communications channels (nor anything else we monitor). Will publish an update if/when we do … probably going to just go take a spin along the shore shortly and see if there are any conspicuous signs of whale-watching, which is how we caught back up with it yesterday afternoon! – TR

    Comment by WSB — 8:32 am March 28, 2010 #

  8. we will keep an eye out for it in Elliott Bay at Alki Kayak Tours on the water today and let people know.
    Our sunset tour was paddling with it last night!

    Comment by Greg Whittaker — 10:33 am March 28, 2010 #

  9. The orange coloration on the Gray whale is actually whale lice, not algae – most Gray whales have some presence of whale lice, and if they have wounds or are not healthy, often have more whale lice than normal.
    Unfortunately this whale is definitely very skinny, and is not one of the “regulars” that comes in to feed on the more productive beaches in N. Puget Sound. It is likely one of the several “stragglers” we tend to get each year that just isn’t strong enough to make the whole migration. We can hope that it will find the better feeding beaches in N. Puget Sound. Cascadia Research in Olympia has been notified about this whale and are attempting to identify it from some of the great photos sent in by Trileigh yesterday.

    Comment by Susan Berta, Orca Network — 10:47 am March 28, 2010 #

  10. I am hoping that’s where it is this morning – that it may have turned back out of Elliott Bay overnight. Saw the distinctive trails atop the water while out looking, and they looked northbound, but of course hard to tell the direction if you’re not an expert. Thanks for the update – TR

    Comment by WSB — 10:53 am March 28, 2010 #

  11. I was out in my kayak yesterday when I ran into this guy. Anyone have any photos of him near a yellow kayak? If so send them to stoneagearcher@yahoo.com

    Comment by Eric — 12:42 pm March 28, 2010 #

  12. We saw him Saturday around 530P in the South Sound between Harstine Island and Walker’s Landing. He was heading north. Surfaced right in front of the kids and me standing on our bulkhead.

    Comment by Tom — 8:23 pm March 28, 2010 #

  13. Unless you mean Sunday, definitely a different whale. Around 5:30 pm Saturday I was with the group tracking it as it moved along Alki, Duwamish Head, and on eastward.

    Comment by WSB — 8:50 pm March 28, 2010 #

  14. I think gray whales are making such a strong comeback in numbers that we’re seeing numerous whales this spring. I saw a juvenile or baby gray whale just of Alki on tues of last week, sat., we all saw the one off of Alki, at the same time someone saw one off of discovery park and now this one, hopefully encouaging signs of a healthy population. 3 whales just on Sat!!! This is probably something no one has seen for 100 years or so, since before commercial whaling took over. Guy in the yellow kayak, can you share your experience with us, was the whale taking interest in the kayaks? In their calving areas they actually come up to the boats and allow people to touch them. The people there call them “the friendly whale”.

    Comment by MISA MOORE — 9:47 am March 29, 2010 #

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