West Seattle, Washington
With the Southern Resident Killer Whale population down to 79 after the death of J34 in B.C. waters last week, many who love our orcas continue to wonder what can they personally do – if anything – to try to help keep the endangered whales from dwindling to extinction. Donna Sandstrom, the West Seattleite who founded and leads The Whale Trail, shares these thoughts, republished with permission from TWT’s website:
Let the untimely death of this young whale inspire us to address the issues that are impacting these orcas: lack of salmon, toxin accumulations, and noise and stress from boats. It is not one of these things, but all.
A well-meaning and concerned public has been led to focus exclusively on bringing down the Snake River dams, as if that was the only or even the best thing we can do to help these whales.
Bringing down dams is a complex challenge that will take decades to accomplish. Meanwhile, these pods are disappearing before our eyes. There are plenty of things each and all of us can do *right now* to help.
Watch from Shore. Noise and stress from boats makes it harder for hungry whales to catch the fewer salmon that *are* there. The next time J, K, or L pods are near, find a Whale Trail site near you and watch them from shore. Know that by reducing sound in their environment, you are giving them a better chance to make it.
Support a Whale Protection Zone. Orca Relief and others have petitioned NOAA Fisheries to establish a protected zone for orcas on the west side of San Juan Island. Sign the petition now, and encourage NOAA to give the whales acoustic space in a critical part of their range.
Reduce Toxins. Living on the edge of the Sound, the choices we make in our daily lives have an impact on whether these whales will survive. Orcas are at the top of the ocean food chain. Toxins like PCBs, PBDEs and DDT bioaccumulate in orcas, stored in lipid cells like blubber and mother’s milk. When the orcas are stressed, the toxins may be released into their bloodstream, and make them more susceptible to diseases. Any actions we take to reduce toxins from entering Puget Sound is a win for the whales.
A few simple suggestions:
*Don’t use pesticides on your lawns. Plant a rain garden, or a native plant, to filter toxins and prevent them from entering the Sound as runoff.
*Walk or take the bus instead of driving once a week, and reduce the oil that runs off pavement into the Sound.
Learning from Success:
Next year we will celebrate the 15th anniversary of Springer the orphaned orca going home. In 2002, she was rescued, rehabilitated and reunited with her pod on the north end of Vancouver Island. Three years ago, she had her first calf. It’s the only successful orca reunion in history.
Why does this story matter, and what bearing does it have on the survival of the southern residents?
To get the whale home, we had to learn how to work together, as individuals, and across organizations, agencies and nations.
Above all, we put the whales’ best interest first.
What hope there is for the whales begins with being honest about the issues that are impacting them. That means, putting their best interest ahead of our own, whether commercial, financial, or simply a desire to get closer that puts them further at risk.
We must encourage and embolden our governments to move urgently to protect this population. We must also understand that NOAA and DFO can’t do this alone—as with Springer, we each have a role to play.
As the days lengthen, let’s match the sadness we feel about J-34’s death with a strengthened resolve to protect his family. Their fate is in our hands — that is our challenge, and our hope. Together, we’ll find light in the dark for the whales.
While early necropsy results showed that “blunt-force trauma” killed J34, researchers have not yet conclusively identified the source. This was the third J-pod orca death announced in less than two months.
Not that we’re urging you to rush your tree out the door. But if it overstays its welcome … that could be dangerous. Here are three ways to recycle it:
TRANSFER STATION: You also have until the end of January to take your tree and/or holiday greens to a city transfer station, fee-free (three trees maximum per vehicle). Nearest one to us is the South Transfer Station (130 S. Kenyon in west South Park).
RAINBOW GIRLS: 9 am-1 pm Saturday, January 7th, drop off your tree at Alki Masonic Center in The Junction. By donation; sponsored by West Seattle Assembly #18 Order of Rainbow for Girls. (4736 40th SW)
(Anyone else having a tree-recycling drive/event? Please let us know so we can add to the WSB Holiday Guide and Calendar!)
Traffic is likely to be heavier than usual again tomorrow on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route of Washington State Ferries, which expects the Tahlequah (South Vashon)/Point Defiance (Tacoma) route to still be out of service tomorrow morning: “… due to ongoing dock repair at the Point Defiance terminal. … We apologize for the inconvenience and advise alternate routes, Southworth and Fauntleroy, for travel to and from Vashon Island.” The dock was damaged by a ferry after its captain suffered a health problem on Christmas Eve.
We start this West Seattle Crime Watch roundup with a search under way right now:
ATTEMPTED ROBBERY: Police are at and around Westwood Village right now looking for a would-be robber. The man – described (as heard via scanner) as black, late 30s, 6-1, dark clothing – told the victim he had a gun. But apparently he fled without stealing anything. We have a crew heading to the scene to find out more and will add it.
(3:36 pm update) The robbery attempt happened outside the WWV Bank of America (which like other banks is closed for the holiday).
Earlier this afternoon:
TIP-JAR THIEF: Around 2:30 pm, according to scanner traffic – somebody stole (or tried to steal) a tip jar at Burger Boss in South Delridge. The only descriptive info we caught was “female,” and that she was last seen heading southbound on Delridge.
The next four are reader reports:
STOLEN BICYCLE: From Mike:
This morning, 12/26/16, a locked bicycle was stolen from in front of the Westwood Village QFC between 10:35 and 10:55 AM.
It is a 56 cm off-white 2012 Jamis Bosanova road bike. It has a black leather Brooks saddle with a tool bag attached and a distinct wooden Portland Design Works cargo rack on the back. It also has front and rear fenders as well as disc brakes. Photos attached. If you see the bike or have any leads, please call Seattle Police and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
BACKPACKS FOUND: We received this text late last night:
2 backpacks found near Delridge Community Center, ditched in road after suspected car prowl. We want to reconnect them with their owners – the contents lead us to believe they are from Canada.
We asked the texter to e-mail us with more info; haven’t received anything yet, but if this sounds familiar, let us know (email@example.com), and we’ll do our best to connect you.
MAIL FOUND, #1: First we received this from Trileigh:
We found a pile of mail on Christmas Day along Murray Ave SW near Lowman Beach, mostly opened, including several Christmas cards sent to different neighborhood addresses. I’d guess that someone went through mailboxes along our street, hoping to find some cash Christmas gifts. We put the mail back in the addressees’ mailboxes where we could – if you live near there and find some opened mail in your mailbox, that might be from this pile.
Since it’s still the Christmas season, it might be a good idea for people to try to bring in mail from your box as soon as possible after it’s delivered, just in case.
MAIL FOUND: We also have received two reports today of what looks like discarded mail near the Fauntleroy fish-ladder viewpoint.
Thanks again to everyone sharing Crime Watch reports so your neighbors all around the peninsula know more about what’s happening – we hope crime will NOT happen to you, but if it does, once you’ve reported it to police (911 if it’s happening now or just happened), let us know … 206-293-6302 if breaking, firstname.lastname@example.org if not — thank you.
12:38 PM: Arriving crews report “moderate smoke” coming from the house.
12:45 PM: As Sharon points out in comments, the SFD response has blocked Alki Avenue both ways, so steer clear of the area until further notice. Meantime, via scanner (our crew is still en route), crews are reporting that the fire has extended into the house’s attic, but they’ve “knocked down” that part of the fire from inside.
1:04 PM: Photo added (and we confirmed that the house number on the SFD log, 1728 Alki, is the house where the fire happened). People were home when this started, but everyone got out OK and no injuries are reported. SFD tells us that early information indicates this is woodstove-related. A sizable section of Alki SW remains blocked because at least one hydrant line is running more than a block.
1:16 PM: Above, that’s a photo of the aforementioned line to a hydrant (now being rolled up). SFD is still assessing the extent of the damage, as they’re checking the walls and attic.
2:18 PM: The online incident report indicates the last few crews on scene were finally dismissed about 10 minutes ago, so the road should be back open now. And thanks to Steve Quant for this photo of what firefighters were dealing with at the peak of the fire:
We’re not likely to get a final report on the cause/damage before tomorrow.
Though many government offices/facilities are closed today, Seattle Public Library branches are open! In West Seattle, the Southwest and WS (Admiral) branches are open now, closing at 8 pm; the Delridge branch is open 1-8 pm; the High Point branch remains closed for renovations (reopening January 9th).
No special events at the branches today, but tomorrow, if you have kid(s) home from school for winter break, check this out: Southwest Library (35th SW/SW Henderson) has an event that children’s librarian Dave Eicke wants to make sure you know about – Lego Space Wars, 2-4 pm Tuesday. As Eicke points out, “Play and use of Legos have been shown to show real benefits in STEM education. The planning and building helps with communicating ideas with physical objects.” Free, no registration required, just show up!
(2016 Alki Polar Bear Swim photo by Scott Nelson)
Just got confirmation that the West Seattle Polar Bear Swim is on again for Sunday (New Year’s Day 2017). From organizer Mark Ufkes:
January 1, 2017, at 9:50 am, polar-bear swimmers will line up along the beach across from Duke’s.
With a countdown, at 10 am sharp we will hold hands with our friends and run into Puget Sound.
Bring water shoes, a towel, a change of clothes and your hopes and dreams for 2017 with you. Also bring the lessons you learned in 2016. Running into the water with friends and family will help you leave behind the complexities of 2016 and start the new year clean and burden-free. We hit the water at 10 sharp.
Thinking about trying it for the first time? Here’s our coverage from last year, including video and links to previous years’ coverage.
(Click any view for a close-up; more cameras on the WSB Traffic page)
Since Christmas Day was on a Sunday, today is an official holiday. Here are the transit changes:
METRO: Sunday schedule.
WATER TAXI: The West Seattle and Vashon runs both are NOT in service.
SOUND TRANSIT: Route 560 (and light rail) are on run Sunday schedules.
STREET PARKING: For the neighborhoods with city-operated pay stations, this is a free-parking day.
Also, while Washington State Ferries‘ Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth run is on a normal schedule, usage is likely to be heavier than usual because the South Vashon run (Tahlequah-Point Defiance) remains out of service.