West Seattle scenes: ‘Sea lion spectacle’ off Lincoln Park

February 7, 2011 at 9:09 pm | In Seen at sea, West Seattle news, Wildlife | 49 Comments

To our knowledge, no one reported spotting the distinctive dark fins of orcas off West Seattle shores today, but Trileigh is sharing photos tonight of a not-so-everyday sea-lion sighting:

My partner and I encountered a wonderful Sea Lion spectacle at the Lincoln Park beach this afternoon. There were several sea lions-at least three or four. At first they were just drifting around off the north beach, looking like logs except that they’d raise their heads every once in a while. Then we saw a single sea lion further offshore, resting on its back with flippers up, just like a big sleepy bear in the water!

We walked to the beach south of Colman Pool, and then things got really interesting. A big brown female sea lion was actively fishing, much to the excitement of the gulls flocking overhead and on nearby water … Word apparently got around, and soon she was joined by three additional sea lions (maybe those were the guys lounging around by the north beach). They dove and did headstands as they hunted underwater.

(The next photo shows) that the sea lions were pretty good fishers.

What a wonderful place to live!

49 Comments

  1. love, love, love it!!!

    Comment by feasting — 9:22 pm February 7, 2011 #

  2. Don’t know if it was one of the same ones, but there was one attracting a lot of attention by Me Kwa Mooks park this evening around 4:30, too.

    Comment by herongrrrl — 9:36 pm February 7, 2011 #

  3. I saw the sea lions, too. They were huge! It was around 4PMish and they were right off the shore of Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook. There was something odd about their activity and I can’t quite pin point what it was. Most noticeably, a man was on the beach with his dog right near them. He was tossing something into the water and having the dog swim out to fetch it. I was so surprised to see the sea lions paying no attention to the dog. I couldn’t help but wonder what a dog vs sea lion battle would have looked like. Perhaps it’s time to remind people about having their dogs on leashes. Dogs aren’t even allowed on beaches, let alone off leash on the beach. I wish Seattle was a bit more proactive about ticketing offending dog walkers. I know walking your dog on the beach without a leash is a romantic idea, but we have leash laws for good reasons. Seattle also has some great off leash dog parks.

    Comment by kate — 9:45 pm February 7, 2011 #

  4. Well said, Kate.

    Comment by Mtnpeak — 9:57 pm February 7, 2011 #

  5. orca chow

    Comment by steve — 9:59 pm February 7, 2011 #

  6. great photos!

    Comment by DC — 10:22 pm February 7, 2011 #

  7. Great photos! And, yes collecting some fines from the folks who insist on letting their dogs run free in the parks and on the beaches would help our city coffers – which need helping! Almost everytime I walk Lincoln Beach I see dogs running loose in the water and on the trail. Which city departments/employees are responsible for handing out fines? They are too lax with the “dogs loose” fines.

    Comment by WS fan — 10:36 pm February 7, 2011 #

  8. Yeah the county/city parks cry poor but won’t even collect legit fines….?

    Comment by bebecat — 11:28 pm February 7, 2011 #

  9. Neat! Thanks for the photos!

    Comment by LatteRose — 8:04 am February 8, 2011 #

  10. I thought this post was about sea lions and some amazing photos of them, not about dogs.

    Comment by leashyourchild — 8:54 am February 8, 2011 #

  11. Posts are a form of discussion. They can start out one way and then go a different direction; that’s what’s so cool about them. See, you thought it was about sea lions and then it went to dogs and now we’re discussing blogs. Maybe be we should talk about frogs, now that I’ve started rhyming. It’s really all about about timing.

    Comment by kate — 9:36 am February 8, 2011 #

  12. Kate, I was going to praise the photos but now I have to praise you. Awesome!

    Comment by Laurie — 9:38 am February 8, 2011 #

  13. This has all the makings of another epic comment thread….

    Comment by TW — 10:06 am February 8, 2011 #

  14. Ha ha! Thanks Laurie. I by no means want to ruin a spectacular wildlife post with my downer dog rant. Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs. One of the reasons that West Seattle is so rad is that we have our very own woodland seaside magic. We can enjoy these kind of moments because Seattle residents, for the most part, are so very enlightened and understand the work and self sacrifice it takes to achieve the balance of urban living with wildlife. So don’t mind me. Every now and then I just like to issue gentle reminders.

    Comment by kate — 10:59 am February 8, 2011 #

  15. I am surprised anyone would use Lincoln Park anymore, what with all the pervs and women peeing everywhere.
    .
    (Of course, I am being sarcastic. I also want to contribute to some of the “nonsense comments” that get people riled up.) :-)

    Comment by NotMe — 11:13 am February 8, 2011 #

  16. WOODLAND SEASIDE MAGIC is a great name for a song!

    oh I see the sea lion and I see the little dog
    I wonder if I will ever see an eagle or a frog?
    woodland seaside magic
    woodland seaside magic
    yeah yeah yeah yeah

    oh I see a briny shellfish and I see a crow up high
    I wonder if that hogtied cow really had to die?
    woodland seaside magic
    woodland seaside magic
    yeah yeah yeah yeah

    Comment by caspar babypants — 11:17 am February 8, 2011 #

  17. HA! HA! I almost fell off my chair laughing! Go Caspar! Go! You can buy my “lyrics” for $10,000. All proceeds going to the National WIldlife Federation, of course.

    Comment by kate — 11:20 am February 8, 2011 #

  18. Caspar, can you somehow work the hog-tied cow alien abduction and probing into your new hit? On another subject somewhat related – I wonder if the city cracked down on the offleash dogs on the beach if the same people that thought the Admiral speeding crackdown was a blatant waste of taxpayer money would feel the same about dog tickets. This is an official threadjacking. . . . .

    Comment by West Seattle Art Attack — 11:36 am February 8, 2011 #

  19. Gawd, I love this place.(WestSeattle and it’s Blogettes) And your lucky photos are awesome. Thanks for all the smiles this morning.

    Comment by Vanessa — 11:38 am February 8, 2011 #

  20. Hog-tied cow alien abduction and probing sounds like it might be a hit for his grown up band, The Presidents of the United States of America. Although, my dark side would rather see it as kid’s song. By the way, I just love the term “threadjacking” and I, too, thought the same thing about the speeding crack down in relation to the leash laws.

    Comment by kate — 11:42 am February 8, 2011 #

  21. It is mating time.
    Was lucky enough to see a pod of whales last Thursday at Coleman Pool.

    And 3 wks ago, saw double rainbows across the water.

    Comment by Jade — 11:48 am February 8, 2011 #

  22. blah, blah, blah. People always complain about dogs on beaches. COME ON PEOPLE! Other states are just fine with allowing dogs on beaches or at least have beaches where they are allowed. And yes I can take my pooches to Magnuson or one other off leash park by-the-water but they are usually dirty and not too fun for the human. Lighten up people! I pick up after my dog. Always has to be one person to start.

    Comment by Steph in WS — 11:56 am February 8, 2011 #

  23. Hog-Tied Cow Alien Abduction & Probing is my new band name. Thanks!

    Comment by Marika — 11:58 am February 8, 2011 #

  24. …quit that ryhming and I mean it…..anybody want a peanut?……

    Comment by Photochief — 11:58 am February 8, 2011 #

  25. And yes I can take my pooches to Magnuson or one other off leash park by-the-water but they are usually dirty and not too fun for the human.
    .
    That doesn’t strike me as a real good argument for allowing it elsewhere, ya know?
    .
    Some years back I was hiking on Dungeness Spit and when we stopped for lunch, five or six sea lions poked their heads out of the water and stared at us. Who’d have known our sandwiches would seem so appetizing? (No, we didn’t feed them.)

    Comment by datamuse — 12:01 pm February 8, 2011 #

  26. Well Steph, most states don’t have eagles feeding on the beach, seal pups hauling themselves on the beach, herons fishing on the beach, moon snails, sea stars, or aneomones spawning on the beach. Most states don’t have precious tide pools and sand crabs. Most states don’t have breeding water fowl like Brant geese, Buffle ducks and oystercatchers. It’s not about “lightening up” it’s about respecting your environment and it’s fragile ecosystem.

    Comment by kate — 12:15 pm February 8, 2011 #

  27. It’s mating time for moles, too.

    And eagles! Keep your eyes peeled upward for aerial displays of avian romancin’!

    Comment by westseattledood — 12:35 pm February 8, 2011 #

  28. I can’t believe how many eagles have been out and about. I saw 5 this morning! The juvenile was in the madrona tree across the from the lighthouse and he was with both his parents. I then saw another two along the water- one at the end of Jacobsen and the other up high above in my backyard. So cool!

    Comment by kate — 12:43 pm February 8, 2011 #

  29. Speaking of dogs…Genessee Hill School’s old playfield: NOT A DOG PARK!!!!!

    I can’t take my kids to play baseball because there’s no more grass and poop on the ground!

    I love WS. I love dogs. I wish we had a “sudo water/park” type place here like at Sandpoint or Mercer Island…but we can’t just start creating them!

    Can we start a petition or something? To build a dog park in WS? WestCrest sometimes is juuuuust too far, and utilizing the water would be great!

    Comment by WS Dog Owner — 12:55 pm February 8, 2011 #

  30. I think there’s a wee conspiracy between Kate and Caspar… ;-)
    Seriously though — I wholeheartedly agree with Kate on this one.

    Comment by SarahScoot — 1:24 pm February 8, 2011 #

  31. I completely agree with WS Dog Owner. It’s not about excluding dog owners from enjoying nature and the outdoors, but providing the appropriate space for them. I was recently at Deception State Park and there was a sign posted at the edge of the shore. It detailed a day at the beach back in 1995. The tide was unusually low and they had record numbers of beachcombers. The shore was trampled and what used to be tide pools covered in sea stars had been striped bare. That section of beach has not seen a single sea star since. I would hate to see something like that happen to Constellation Park.

    Comment by kate — 1:26 pm February 8, 2011 #

  32. breakin’ the law, breakin’ the law, breakin’ the law!

    Comment by smash the state — 1:35 pm February 8, 2011 #

  33. The article mentions a female sea lion. How can you tell? Someone told me all the locals are males. True?

    Comment by I. Ponder — 2:14 pm February 8, 2011 #

  34. Females are usually lighter-colored and smaller. I would have guessed female for the one in the pic with the fish, too.
    http://www.swbg-animals.org/animal-info/info-books/california-sea-lion/physical-characteristics.htm

    Comment by WSB — 2:23 pm February 8, 2011 #

  35. It’s not out of the question that a female might be here, but the majority of the sea lions (California, like the ones in these photos, or Steller’s, who have a distinct golden-brown color) that come through Puget Sound are males. Mating season for California sea lions is May-June, but since they are very social animals it isn’t uncommon to see groups of sea lions hanging out within fins’ reach of each other.

    Females tend to be a lot smaller than males, but younger sea lions are too, so it would be challenging to tell one sex from another without getting a good look at parts they don’t usually show off.

    And if you’re wondering how to tell a sea lion from a seal, two relatively easy ways to do that here: 1) our most common local seal, the harbor seal, has a very rounded head and no visible ear flaps. If you can “see” the ears, it’s probably a “sea” lion–easy way to remember. Sea lions also have more pronounced foreheads, and look more like a labrador retriever in profile. 2) When they are in the water with their heads up, looking around, a sea lion will tend to dive forward and a harbor seal will tend to duck backwards.

    Comment by herongrrrl — 2:29 pm February 8, 2011 #

  36. I have been to that beach where the sea stars got messed up too…so SAD!!! Might be ANOTHER song in the works…

    Comment by caspar babypants — 2:46 pm February 8, 2011 #

  37. Well, Oregon is one state that has all those things Kate and they allow dogs on their beaches. I think geese poop is worse and more prevalent. I just get so sick of people complaining about dogs on this site.

    Comment by Steph in WS — 3:59 pm February 8, 2011 #

  38. I feel your pain, Steph- a touchy subject, for sure.

    Comment by kate — 4:16 pm February 8, 2011 #

  39. Oh my we West Seattlites are a wonderfully diverse and humorous group! And opinionated too 8^]) Gotta love how we somehow figure out how to get along regardless. One life time resident told me a few years back that successfully living here was about respect. Props to all of us! Happy sea lion, dog walking, whale watching, eagle soaring, and tide pool peeking week to one and all!

    Comment by Deone Benninghoven — 5:06 pm February 8, 2011 #

  40. Great photos. Thanks.

    Comment by baff — 5:26 pm February 8, 2011 #

  41. Saw a sea lion out near Colman Pool tonight just playing in the water around 5:30! First time seeing one since I moved out here :)

    Comment by argiles — 7:12 pm February 8, 2011 #

  42. Awesome song, and great conversation, but seriously why does every post about the water or nature turn into a dog-owner-bashing? Really? We think it would be a much better use of our police forces time to ticket dog owners, than trying to track down the pervs hanging out in Lincoln Park and causing physical harm to women? I’m neither for our against the the debate on leash laws but I do know that I’d be pissed if someone got molested in the park cause the cops were too busy paying attention to off-leash dogs.

    Comment by kb — 8:21 pm February 8, 2011 #

  43. I don’t think police officers ticket off leash offenders, do they? I always thought it was the responsibility of park rangers. I looked up leash laws at seattle.gov and there’s reference to, “Humane Animal Law Enforcement Officers” which has a description that reads, “Our Humane Animal Law Enforcement Officers work seven days a week to ensure human and animal safety within our city.” Is that a different type of police officer? Hmmm…..I’m not sure. However, I did learn that pigeons do not need to be leashed:
    http://www.seattle.gov/animalshelter/animal-control-overview.htm

    Comment by kate — 8:44 pm February 8, 2011 #

  44. Busted a gut over blogs o poo dogs
    Woodland seaside magic, seals & frogs
    You all wax sunny,
    Serious or funny
    Whilst women keep peein on Lincoln Park logs

    Comment by seewhatsealionsstart — 8:50 pm February 8, 2011 #

  45. MY PIGEON

    I take my pigeon to the beach
    my pigeon does not need a leash
    he flaps about and comes when called
    he sits atop a rubber ball
    the officer said “HEY YOU THERE!
    YOU NEED A LEASH OR ITS NOT FAIR!”
    I said he was wrong but just a smidgeon
    and showed him it was just my pigeon

    Comment by caspar babypants — 9:11 pm February 8, 2011 #

  46. Ha-ha!

    Comment by kate — 9:37 pm February 8, 2011 #

  47. I’m expecting to hear these songs debut in some fine West Seattle venue this summer … Summer Fest? Summer Concerts at Hiawatha (which we just signed up to sponsor again this year)? Or? Although actually MY PIGEON is more evocative of Dr. Seuss….
    .
    To Kate’s question, those officers are with the Seattle Animal Shelter. (aka Animal Control) They were part of Operation Dead Cow last Sunday. Spiffy inscribed jackets and everything. They probably deserve their own TV series. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:44 pm February 8, 2011 #

  48. Dr. Seuss? I was thinking Tom Lehrer…

    Comment by datamuse — 10:49 pm February 8, 2011 #

  49. Thanks for the clarifications about the sex of the brown sea lion. Looks like it’s probably a male Steller’s Sea Lion rather than a female California Sea Lion. (There are a couple more photos and some short videos of them on my Flickr site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/trileigh.)

    Comment by Trileigh — 9:53 am February 9, 2011 #

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