Thanks to “Diver Laura” James for sharing photos from tonight’s The Whale Trail presentation at The Hall at Fauntleroy. She reports 100 people turned out to hear from Erich Hoyt, who TWT founder Donna Sandstrom says she was thrilled to host, because: “Almost everything I know about orcas, I first learned from reading Erich’s book, ‘Orca: The Whale Called Killer,’ way back in the early ’80s.”
Note the 23-foot inflatable orca in the background – a special touch for this event. Previous Whale Trail-presented speakers have included local orca expert Mark Sears, Keep an eye on TWT’s website for future events.
Lots of questions tonight about what looks like reddish-brown muck in the water along West Seattle shores – and some who saw it are sharing photos, too; the one above is from Cheryl via the WSB Facebook page. No, it’s not “red tide” (which as the state notes seldom looks “red” at all) – it’s another round of noctiluca, the non-toxic single-celled organisms that “bloom” when conditions are just right, and this year it’s already the second major wave – we mentioned it back in May, as well as last year, and the year before.
You’ve seen the work of West Seattle’s award-winning “Diver Laura” James – a filmmaker, photographer, writer, environmental activist – here and elsewhere over the past few years. Now, we get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to get those views; much more complicated than simply jumping into the water with a camera. The video above tells that story as part of a profile of Laura’s work, made for the Puget Sound Starts Here campaign by another local filmmaker, Matthew J. Clark. Some beautiful scenery above the water, too (look for the Seacrest sequence) – Laura says it was shot in mid-April.
(Photo copyright Evgeniya Lazareva, Far East Russia Orca Project [FEROP, WDC])
One more talk is set for The Whale Trail‘s series, announced today by TWT’s Donna Sandstrom: “Adventures with Orcas in the North Pacific, From A1 Stubbs to Iceberg, the White Russian Bull,” featuring author/researcher Erich Hoyt. Big topic, and a bigger venue – after filling C & P Coffee (WSB sponsor) for each of the four previous talks, this time it’ll be at The Hall at Fauntleroy, and instead of on a weeknight, it’s on a Saturday night, June 8th (7-9 pm). Tickets are available now! Read on for the full announcement:
7:17 PM: We have multiple reports of a search under way off the Washington State Ferry Wenatchee, in Elliott Bay north of Alki Beach, after a report of someone overboard. The U.S. Coast Guard is helping search. The ferry was headed to Bainbridge Island.
7:26 PM: Wenatchee is continuing on to Bainbridge. No official report on the fate of the person reported overboard.
11:26 PM: More information late tonight from the community-news website Inside Bainbridge: They report the search started after someone on the Wenatchee reported seeing a body in the water. Searchers couldn’t find it, though, and IB says the USCG stopped searching about two hours ago.
It’s becoming an annual reminder, but an important one so newcomers (etc.) don’t get worried: If you see reddish-orange water like this off West Seattle shores, it’s not a spill, and it’s not poisonous. It’s a bloom of single-cell plankton known as “noctiluca.” Thanks to Beach Drive resident Lura Ercolano for sharing the photo she took this morning, now that the current wave has hit full bloom; she helped educate us and readers about it two years ago, too. The state tracks blooms like this, so if you see it, you’ll find an e-mail address for reporting it on this Department of Ecology page, which explains that blooms usually result from “abundant sunlight, nutrients, and the right water conditions.”
FRIDAY FOLLOWUP: The state Ecology Department has a news release this morning about the bloom, earlier than usual, they say. You can see it here.
Busy, busy day on Elliott Bay and at Don Armeni Boat Ramp!
We checked it out after getting an e-mail question wondering about all the boats. Here’s the occasion: 7 am-3 pm today, it’s open to recreational spot-shrimp fishing – and there’ll be a rerun next Wednesday (May 8th), same hours.
11:40 AM: Got our first text that the carrier returning home to Bremerton after an 8-month deployment is visible in the distance from Alki, which seems to correlate with a Twitter mention that it’s off north Bainbridge.
11:59 AM: In view off Alki Point now, just before it rounds the turn off south Bainbridge. (Photo by WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand, added 12:02 pm.)
12:17 PM: It’ll be out of sight soon, disappearing behind south Bainbridge, into Rich Passage. Good day for ship watching in general – right now from our vantage point at Constellation Park, two large commercial vessels are also passing. (If you’re out watching them, the darker-hulled one is the Midnight Sun, the one with the containers is Evergreen Unison, according to MarineTraffic.com.)
(August 2012 photo by Nick Adams for WSB)
Eight months ago, the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis sailed past West Seattle. This Friday, we’ll see it again, since that’s the date announced for its return to its homeport, Bremerton, according to the Kitsap Sun.
(April 2011 photo of Crystal Symphony passing Luna/Anchor Park, shared by CL)
A note for Elliott Bay marine-traffic watchers: Cruise-ship season starts this Wednesday (May 1st), with a stop by luxury line Crystal Cruises‘ Crystal Symphony at Pier 66 downtown. After that, the routine of weekly arrivals and departures starts next Sunday, with Holland-America Line‘s Oosterdam at Magnolia’s Pier 91, and the full weekly lineup beginning the second weekend in May. According to the Port of Seattle’s 2013 cruise-season fact sheet, this year’s stops and total passenger count are down – the projected 188 vessel visits is the lowest number since 2004, and the expected passenger total, 852,000, is the lowest since 2007. As for the changes you’ll notice, if you watch the bay and/or docks, two ships are making their Seattle debut Oceania is joining Seattle’s summer fleet, with the mid-sized Regatta docking at Pier 66. Celebrity Cruises, meantime, moves to Pier 91, with the Seattle debut of Celebrity Solstice, described last year as one of the largest ships to ever sail from here, able to handle almost 3,000 passengers. See this year’s full Seattle cruise schedule by going here.
8:39 PM ‘HAPPENING NOW’ REPORT: It’s one of those nights when The Whale Trail turns inland – to C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) for the ongoing series of presentations about whales and other marine life. Thanks to “Diver Laura” James for sharing photos again – here’s tonight’s featured presenter, Uko Gorter, talking about “Orcas of the World“:
Big crowd again:
Watch The Whale Trail’s website for news of the next event!
ADDED FRIDAY MORNING: Thanks to Laura for also sharing video, if you couldn’t get there last night:
Thanks to David Schneider for sharing the photo, taken today off Beach Drive. He writes, “Looks like they were practicing today. Saw what looks like Coast Guard helicopter hovering just 50+ feet off the water, then dropping line to a boat below…” No incidents reported that we’ve heard of, so training is the likely explanation.
SIDE NOTE: The Coast Guard website spotlights USCG response in the aftermath of the bombings in Boston – noting that Boston is “uniquely a maritime city” (which certainly could be said of Seattle as well).
Help those who help our waterways and their residents: Shanti’s benefit bake sale for Puget Soundkeeper AllianceApril 19, 2013 at 1:21 pm | In How to help, Seen at sea, West Seattle news | 2 Comments
Sea lions on a buoy in the bay are among the sights Puget Soundkeeper Alliance volunteers (like Tom Foley, who shared the top photo) see when they go out on patrol. Often, the sights are less pleasant – pollution pouring from an outfall, litter floating on the water (though Tom reported a little less of that during the recent patrol). Even if you can’t get out on the water and take action, you can support the Soundkeepers’ work today through Sunday by stopping by Shanti Salon and Spa (WSB sponsor) for their benefit bake sale – with treats like these, made by members of the Shanti team:
Shanti is on the north end of The Admiral District, at 2138 California SW, open until 7 pm today, 9 am-7 pm on Saturday, 10 am-6 pm on Sunday.
Our local orcas have cousins all over the world! Find out about them during the fourth event in The Whale Trail‘s series of presentations: “Uko Gorter: Orcas of the World – An overview of the diversity of Orcinus orca.” It’s one week from tonight, according to the official announcement:
Orcas (killer whales) are one of the most widespread mammals in the world. Like humans, they exhibit unique cultural and even morphological differences.
Join us for this presentation by scientific illustrator Uko Gorter (also the president of the American Cetacean Society’s Puget Sound chapter), who will discuss the diversity of orcas around the globe. Spectacular photos highlight the subtle (and not so subtle) difference in appearance, unique behavior, and prey preferences between the many orca populations. Some differences are so great, they may lead to a taxonomic revisions and determination of new species and/or subspecies of orca. Uko will also discuss his collaboration with with biologists Bob Pitman, John Durban, and Andy Foote to create a poster of orca ecotypes and forms.
Where: C & P Coffee Company, 5621 California SW
When: Thursday April 25, 7 – 9 (doors open 6:30)
Cost: $5 suggested donation, kids free.
–Tickets available at brownpapertickets.com
Buy tickets early and we will save you a seat! The event also features updates from Robin Lindsey (Seal Sitters), and “Diver Laura” James (tox-ick.org and Puget Soundkeeper Alliance), and photography and art from Judy Lane and Mike Russell.
(WSB photo from aboard USS Bunker Hill during 2012 Seafair Parade of Ships)
5:04 PM: In discussion of this morning’s Blue Angels cancellation announcement, one WSB’er asked if Seafair‘s Navy Fleet visits were still on – it’s had special West Seattle significance because of the Parade of Ships (here’s our 2012 coverage). We asked, and at the time, the Seafair spokesperson replied yes, as far as they knew. But now that’s changed, and they’ve just announced:
The U.S. Navy has confirmed that they are unable to provide ship visits for our fleet week due to federal budget cuts. Seafair Fleet Week will continue to emphasize military appreciation and include some component of visiting ships and Navy participation. Seafair will produce the Boeing Maritime Celebration again this summer to honor our men and woman in uniform as part of our fleet week activities. More information will be released in the coming weeks.
Keep in mind, this announcement just involves the U.S. Navy; Canadian military vessels have often participated.
6:58 PM: And to that point, Seafair says the Canadian Navy has reconfirmed its participation. Meantime, here’s what our regional U.S. Navy command says about all this.
(WSDOT photo from this afternoon, added here Saturday night)
Since its arrival Tuesday, the Jumbo Fairpartner – carrying “Bertha” the tunneling machine, in 41 pieces – has been anchored off West Seattle’s northeastern shore. Today, it finally sailed the rest of the way to Terminal 46, which means the WSDOT webcam is now live – it’s a live-video camera, too. The most recent tweet from @BerthaDigsSR99 says unloading might start later today.
(UPDATED LATE AFTERNOON with more views)
(Newest photo: 1:05 pm cameraphone view from Jack Block Park)
10:45 AM: The Jumbo Fairpartner, a heavy-lift ship carrying the custom-built Highway 99 tunnel machine nicknamed “Bertha,” is approaching Seattle – so we’re going on Bertha watch. For its latest position, check this MarineTraffic.com link – it’s traveling down the west side of Whidbey Island as we type this. Here’s the official WSDOT page with Bertha background and links – the state promises a live webcam as Bertha’s ship approaches its berth at Terminal 46. If you use Twitter, follow @BerthaDigsSR99. More shortly.
11:13 AM: Approaching Edmonds now, though it’s currently closer to the Kitsap County side than the Snohomish County side.
11:35 AM: Passing Kingston, per MarineTraffic.com.
11:58 AM: Seeing it in the distance from mid-Alki. If you’re coming down to the beach (or points east) for a look, get going!
12:12 PM: Bertha is now turning toward Elliott Bay. You can’t miss the cranes. Another pic shortly.
12:31 PM: Just substituted new photo above – still clearly visible from Alki but closer to the other side of the bay. Jack Block, Seacrest, Don Armeni will have good views shortly.
1:05 PM: The Fairpartner is now approaching Jack Block Park, where WSDOT executives have gathered to talk with the media, so we’ve moved there. Newest photo is atop this story.
1:30 PM: Adding a few more. The ship has stopped, for now, a ways off the park. WSDOT deputy program administrator Matt Preedy (above), the West Seattleite who you see so often speaking about the projects in this area, is here and says it’s going to anchor for a while; currently, the ship is pivoting to some degree. This is about the closest view we’re getting:
1:42 PM: WSDOT reps confirm to us here at Jack Block that Bertha is not coming all the way in to dock today – preparation will be done on ship and on shore, and they’re working around other marine traffic. Meantime, we have more great photos in the inbox, beyond what we’ve been sharing – here’s what WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli sent from Columbia Center downtown:
We’ll add more photos in a bit – and will get on to other news, too.
ADDED 4:52 PM: Also from Christopher, the pit that “Bertha” is destined for:
From WSB contributing photojournalist Nick Adams, the Fairpartner and The Needle:
Jesse Doerr photographed the ship looking out over its eventual docking area:
Chi Duong‘s photo is from downtown:
And Adam Dunko‘s is from Hamilton Viewpoint in North Admiral:
Still more to check out – thanks!
(Photo by Robin Lindsey)
It’s a beautiful day on the water and a beautiful day for wildlife watching – if you keep your distance, and that’s a required-by-law 100 yards. Robin Lindsey from Seal Sitters shared the photo and asked us to help get that reminder out – please don’t get so close to those sea-lion-laden buoys on the bay:
It was like a flotilla out there yesterday and lots of watercraft around them today, too. While it is tempting to get closer, people need to remember that all marine mammals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Sea lions and seals need to rest and regulate their body temperature. That is exactly what a huge Steller sea lion bull and a jostling gang of sea lions, mostly male California sea lions, are doing on the buoys. Our Eastern stock of Stellers are considered “threatened,” while the Western stock that lives in Alaska and Russian waters is indeed “endangered.”
Watercraft violating this federal law are being photographed and the images are being sent to NOAA’s Office for Law Enforcement. A Steller bull is a huge animal, weighing up to a ton, and if provoked could leap off and injure someone. It is only common sense that a kayaker not get within feet of the buoy as they were doing yesterday. Alki Kayak Tours is doing a great job of informing their renters to steer clear of the buoy, but others may not be aware that getting too close not only causes undue stress on the animals, but is a violation of the MMPA and punishable by fine.
We want people to get out on the water and enjoy wildlife – from a respectful distance.
Want to know more about marine mammals? Here’s the Seal Sitters’ resource-links page.
Thanks to “Diver Laura” James for sharing video of researcher John Calambokidis‘s harbor-porpoises presentation from the latest in The Whale Trail‘s series of talks, this past Thursday night at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor). Another good turnout – click the image to see a larger version of this panorama:
This was the third in TWT’s new series of events, also featuring other local advocates (such as Laura, for tox-ick.org and Puget SoundKeeper Alliance, and Seal Sitters – whose David Hutchinson is in the panorama, standing by a camera, of course). We’re checking with TWT’s Donna Sandstrom to see what’s next on the schedule; you can also watch the Whale Trail calendar for future additions.
Time flies. Or, sails. It’s already been 10 days since the heavy-lift ship Jumbo Fairpartner carrying the Highway 99 tunnel machine left Japan (as noted here, with photo). Tuesday’s the day you’ll see it sail past West Seattle shores on the way into Elliott Bay, reports Seattle Times (WSB partner) transportation reporter (and West Seattleite) Mike Lindblom, whose story includes this tracking link. We’ll of course track it with specific viewing times as it gets closer! P.S. WSDOT is offering a launch-pit walking tour next Thursday.
As of today, weekends will include three-boat service for eight hours each day on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route of Washington State Ferries. That’s part of the spring schedule that has just taken effect as of this morning. Here’s the overview of changes on other routes; find the spring-schedule links here.
(Photo courtesy John Calambokidis)
Your next chance to join The Whale Trail and friends in learning about local marine life is one week from tonight. From TWT’s Donna Sandstrom:
Harbor porpoises were once commonly seen throughout the Salish Sea. After falling to record lows, sightings are on the increase. Is the population coming back? Scientists recently gathered to discuss what we know – and don’t know – about these elusive animals. What is their range? What do they eat? Like their cousins the orcas, harbor porpoise are an indicator species for the health of Puget Sound. How are they doing?
Join us for on March 28 at C & P Coffee for the next Orca Talk, featuring John Calambokidis, founder and director of Cascadia Research. John and his colleague Jessie Huggins are leaders in the transboundary effort to assess and monitor the health of the harbor porpoise population in the Salish Sea. John is a renowned biologist who directs long-term research on the status, movements, and underwater behavior of blue, humpback, and gray whales. In 2010, John conducted the necropsy on the gray whale that stranded on Arroyo Beach in West Seattle.
The event is scheduled 6:30-9 pm, $5 suggested donation, tickets available at brownpapertickets.com. Along with the guest speaker and The Whale Trail, Donna adds, “The event also features updates from Robin Lindsey (Seal Sitters), and ‘Diver Laura’ James (tox-ick.org and Puget Soundkeeper Alliance), and photography and art from Judy Lane and Mike Russell.”
In less than two weeks, it’ll be quite a spectacle along West Seattle (and other) shores, so you might as well get ready now. The ship above, the Jumbo Fairpartner, set sail hours ago from Osaka, Japan, carrying “Bertha,” the Highway 99 tunnel-boring machine. WSDOT says it’ll arrive around April 1st – no foolin’! The machine is in 41 pieces as it begins its 5,000-mile journey across the Pacific, bound for Terminal 46 on the downtown waterfront, where it will be unloaded and reassembled before it starts heading north from the launch pit just south of where what’s left of the Alaskan Way Viaduct ends. WSDOT is already tweeting about the trip at @BerthaDigsSR99.
(Click image for larger view – photo by David Schneider)
More sightings this morning of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) on the move off West Seattle shores. It was out of view by the time we got down to the water but we’ve since received this photo from David Schneider, who wondered about the cars on deck. West Seattle ship-watchers noticed the same thing when the carrier arrived in early 2012 for work in Bremerton – see the photos and comments here. With the work done, the carrier is moving its homeport to San Diego and that means “everything must go.”
THREE SEALS FOR ST. PATRICK’S DAY: No holiday for the Seal Sitters. On their Blubberblog website, you can read about today’s three pup sightings, all in the Jack Block Park vicinity – a pup dubbed Shamrock who appeared to be making a first-time visit; the return of rehabiiltated pup Ruby; and a third pup who’s nameless so far.
CHEMICAL BAN TO GET PUBLIC HEARING THIS WEEK: Tuesday afternoon, HB 1294 gets a public hearing in the State Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee. This bill would ban two toxic flame-retardant chemicals that get into the food chain and are stored in the fat of marine life – especially our area’s seal pups – as well as humans. As noted in this Blubberblog report explaining the need for a ban, it recently passed the State House. You can e-mail your thoughts to our area’s Sen. Sharon Nelson by using this form.
SLIPPING-AND-SLIDING ‘SURFING’ SEAL-PUP CLIP: Seal Sitters‘ Robin Lindsey called our attention to this clip, which you might already have seen, since it’s passed a million views on YouTube:
Ethan Janson set up the surfboard platform off Three Tree Point in Burien. As Robin’s Blubberblog post notes, and as Alki residents and visitors have seen firsthand, platforms are a boon to seals of all sizes, so they can rest without coming ashore and having to deal with other animals (humans included). Follow the link to find out more about building your own – she writes that Alki’s own Guy Smith, builder of the Joy D. Smith Wildlife Raft, was a later consultant to the video-maker!
(EDITOR’s NOTE: Embedded video window removed because of technical problem – please follow the first link in the story to see the video)
West Seattle’s own “Diver Laura” James shares the link to that report from PBS NewsHour earlier this week. Her work documenting underwater Puget Sound sights both beautiful and disturbing is featured along with something you might not have heard about the use of raingardens to intercept runoff pollution: The fact that techniques are being studied to find out more about how they work and how long they work. (Despite the labeling from PBS, the video clip is mostly about runoff, not raingardens.) Laura is now leading the tox-ick.org program to educate people about reducing runoff, not only via stormwater interception but in so many other ways, and she’ll again be part of the team when local advocates join The Whale Trail‘s next presentation, coming up March 28th (look for more details on that from TWT later this weekend).
First we got a note from Amanda asking which aircraft carrier is passing West Seattle right now; while we tried to find out, without even asking the question publicly, we received the photo above from Thom, who identified it as CVN-76, the carrier USS Ronald Reagan. We last featured it here in January 2012 as it arrived for what was described at the time as a year of maintenance.
ADDED 4:57 PM: Amanda also shared a photo. We haven’t figured out yet what the Ronald Reagan is heading out for – but we did find a bit of information saying the USS John C Stennis is due back in Bremerton later this month, so we’ll be watching for that sighting off Alki and Beach Drive.
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