West Seattle, Washington
3:14 PM: For everyone who appreciates a heads-up on offshore sightings: Our friends at Argosy Cruises just pointed out that the tall ship Lady Washington is headed this way. MarineTraffic.com shows it off Normandy Park right now, headed north at about 6 knots. It’s on its way to Kirkland for tours this weekend after a stint in Tacoma.
The Center for Whale Research just announced that one of Puget Sound’s endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales is missing:
J14, a 42-year old female in J pod, is considered missing. Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research last saw her on July 31. Center for Whale Research staff members have since had three on-the-water encounters with the rest of her matriline but she was not present.
J14, also known as Samish – named by the Samish Tribe – was born in 1974, the first year Dr. Mike Bigg, commissioned by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, started studying the Southern Resident killer whales. She has three living offspring: daughters J37 and J40 and son J45; she is also grandmother to J37’s calf J49. J14 is the only known daughter of J12 and a possible descendant of J2.
CWR staff member Melisa Pinnow last photographed J14 from shore on August 3rd. When last seen in July, J14 gave no indication of being sick or otherwise unhealthy.
We will wait to have one more definitive encounter with the J14’s before recording her as indeed deceased.
That’s a Google Street View mapping-photography car we spotted on eastbound Avalon at 35th this afternoon. Google’s 360-degree views from the road have been around for a while, but our sighting coincides with word we got this week that the mapping service is offering something new in our area: Water views.
A PR rep for Google Maps e-mailed WSB to say that West Seattle views on/from the water have recently gone live; the mapping service partnered with Coastwise Imaging, using the Trekker backpack system (you can see the equipment on the Coastwise site).
If you want to see the water views, you can click any of the following four links we were provided – Alki Beach (starting near Anchor/Luna Park), Alki Point, Duwamish Head (starts by Seacrest), and the Duwamish Waterway (starts near Terminal 5, with the image showing the Shell-related vessels that left two months ago) – among 20 Seattle waterway views now available via Google Maps.
Just happened to be at Don Armeni Boat Ramp and saw this U.S. Coast Guard Cutter passing by, headed toward downtown, so we looked it up. It’s the 418-foot USCGC Bertholf, homeported at Alameda, California. It made news in March for busting two drug submarines in less than a year; another article online describes the Bertholf as “the Coast Guard’s most advanced counternarcotics ship.”
P.S. Looks like it’s headed for Vigor on Harbor Island rather than for the Coast Guard station.
P.P.S. … or maybe not. A Vigor spokesperson tells us the Bertholf isn’t due for two more weeks – September 1st – for the work mentioned in the link above.
Thanks to JayDee for the photo from Upper Alki. That’s the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74), seen making the turn around south Bainbridge Island this afternoon, due home in Bremerton tonight after a seven-month deployment. We reported on its departure January 15. The Navy says the Stennis and its strike group were deployed to the “Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” including two months in the South China Sea.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) August 9, 2016
8:40 AM: We’re at the Fauntleroy ferry dock, where a crew from Global Diving and Salvage is getting ready to tow away the carcass of the 39-foot juvenile humpback whale that died on the beach here Sunday (WSB all-day coverage here; photo/video followup here). First, it had to be evaluated:
The whale has been out of view, submerged, since a Washington State Ferries “shore gang” tied it to floats Sunday night and towed it to a spot along the dock where it’s been secured since then.
As we reported last night, Global – which is based in West Seattle – got the call on Monday that its assistance would be needed to dispose of the whale, which is to be sunk in Puget Sound rather than taken to a beach to decompose. Its 62-foot landing-craft-type vessel Prudhoe Bay – also known for bringing the Seafair Pirates to Alki Beach each summer – pulled up just after 8 am:
Global Diving and Salvage executives tell WSB they’ve assisted with whales before – including the fin whale that turned up at Seahurst Park in Burien in 2013.
9:13 AM: The crew has secured floats – and therefore, the whale – to the Prudhoe Bay, and is sailing away from the dock, headed for a “pre-approved” sinking site. (We’ve added video atop this story, and will be adding more photos later.)
4:27 PM UPDATE: Just talked with David DeVilbiss from Global, who confirms the whale has been “respectfully” sent to its final resting place “in about 400 feet of water.” Location not specified, but we’ve noted that MarineTraffic.com showed the Prudhoe Bay off Blake Island most of the day. DeVilbiss adds that a marine biologist was on board and able to get more information about the whale that couldn’t be gathered on the beach – underside markings, for example.
Thanks to Dja for tweeting that photo from Alki with an unmistakable spout in view – if you’re in the area, keep watch for possible sunset sightings of whale(s). Transient orcas have been in central Puget Sound today, according to Orca Network spotters, so the spout might be from one of them. (Some were in Elliott Bay earlier today – see photos here.)
FIRST REPORT, 12:47 PM: We’re just west of Duwamish Head, watching the Seafair fleet come into view for today’s Parade of Ships, running a bit later than past years. The ships are listed here; amphibious transport dock USS Somerset (LPD-25) is in the lead, passing Bainbridge, and should be turning eastward toward Elliott Bay shortly. If you’re headed out to watch, consider an umbrella – looks like more storminess is headed this way, according to Sam from Fleurt, whose daughter Keonii took this photo in The Arroyos earlier this hour.
Ship (and weather, if warranted) updates to come!
1:06 PM: The Somerset is now about to pass us (photo added atop story); behind it, the guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley (DDG 101), and USCGC Active (WMEC-618). At least one helicopter is over Alki to photograph the ships.
1:29 PM: The Gridley (above; homeported in Everett as of this summer) is passing our spot now; off to the east, the Seattle Fire Department fireboat Leschi is putting on a spray show just ahead of the Somerset.
1:52 PM: Short Parade of Ships this year – looks like the Canadian Navy ship due to visit isn’t in it; last ship, the Active (homeported in Port Angeles), has just gone by, headed toward Duwamish Head and the downtown waterfront.
Several smaller USCG vessels have sailed past us too, escorting the three bigger ships. Again, free tours will be offered Wednesday through Sunday – see the Seafair website for where/when.
ADDED 3:28 PM: Thanks to everyone who shared photos! From Lance Merkin, a closer look at some of the people – and an aircraft – on the Somerset:
Kyle Asplund caught fireboat Leschi passing Luna/Anchor Park:
And Gary Jones photographed the Somerset, Gridley, and Active from Alki Point:
P.S. The storm never did show up!
This one, we haven’t solved yet. Lots of texts – a few with photos, including the one above – wondering about this: A low-flying helicopter was off Alki for a while this evening, near a yacht at one point, near an Argosy Cruises boat at another point. Neither the boat nor the helicopter showed on trackers, so we haven’t figured out yet who/what/why – from some past stories, looked to us like a possible photo shoot. Any info, we’d love to hear it, in comments or via e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org – thanks!
8:28 AM: If you want to watch the tribal canoes’ departure for the next stop on the Paddle to Nisqually journey, get down to Alki fast. The first canoe has just departed, after its skipper called out thanks to the Muckleshoots for hosting them here while they travel to the Nisqually Nation. They’re headed to Tacoma, so you should be able to see them off Beach Drive and points south, too.
8:48 AM: The pace of the departures is picking up.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) July 28, 2016
9:35 AM: Most of the canoes have headed out, and the flotilla of motorized spectator/support boats is departing too. More photos after we get back to HQ.
10:48 AM: Thanks to Harley Broe for this view from Beach Drive:
1:55 PM: And David Hutchinson shares these views from Alki Point:
Yes, that’s a real buoy in the background of the photo immediately above. The usually-annual canoe journey, as explained on the Paddle to Nisqually site’s “about” page (where you’ll also find the history), is for “… bringing together natives and non-natives with a common goal of providing a drug and alcohol free event and offering pullers a personal journey towards healing and recovery of culture, traditional knowledge and spirituality. … Canoe Journey gatherings are rich in meaning and cultural significance. Canoe families travel great distances as their ancestors did and participating in the journey requires physical and spiritual discipline. At each stop, canoe families follow certain protocols, they ask for permission to come ashore, often in their native languages. At night in longhouses there is gifting, honoring and the sharing of traditional prayers, drumming, songs and dances. Meals, including evening dinners of traditional foods, are provided by the host nations.”
This year’s journey will end in southernmost Puget Sound on Saturday, where tens of thousands of people are expected to welcome the canoe families as they land. One week of ceremonies and celebrations will follow.
Thanks for sharing the views of the Seattle Fire Department fireboat Leschi putting on a spray show off Alki Beach during tonight’s sunset. The photo above is from Morgan Herzog (who you probably know from The Beer Junction); below, Irene Stewart texted us this video:
We don’t know exactly what brought out the fireboat but it must have been a grand sight with the Paddle to Nisqually canoes lining the beach nearby. Meantime – we will also likely get a fireboat show next Tuesday afternoon (August 2nd) when the Seafair fleet parades past West Seattle shores.
(UPDATED 7:33 PM with Thursday’s departure time)
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) July 27, 2016
1:08 PM: That’s the scene at Alki Beach as we write this a few minutes past 1 pm, with canoes continuing to arrive at the Muckleshoot Tribe-hosted stop along the route of the Paddle to Nisqually. As previewed here Monday, up to 100 canoe families are expected from tribes all over the region – they left the Suquamish Tribe-hosted stop on the west side of the Sound this morning, and will be here overnight until heading out tomorrow. Dozens are here already, some already hoisted up and carried onto the sand, some in queue on the waterline.
1:25 PM: The line of canoes continues to stretch further westward. Hundreds of people are on the beach, some from canoes that have already been brought ashore, some from support crews, plus spectators. This is the first time the canoes have come to Alki during the annual journey since 2012.
4:51 PM: More photos added.
We’re heading back to the beach for a late-in-the-day view as well as the latest on tomorrow’s departure plan.
7:33 PM: With the visitors all celebrating with the Muckleshoots tonight, we checked with security watching over the canoes at Alki, regarding tomorrow’s departure time. He said 8 am. They head to Point Defiance in Tacoma tomorrow, the map shows.
Just in from Leslie Dierauf in the 3600 block of Beach Drive:
At least 2 humpback whales are cruising north on the far side of the deepwater channel. Their blows are big and straight in the air. They have small dorsal fins and are displaying their flukes. COOOOOL.
Thanks to Venkat for the photo – he spotted orcas off Colman Pool after 5 pm today; checking the Orca Network Facebook page, we verified that’s a research boat in the photo. A recent comment there had them passing Three Tree Point in Burien just before 6 – but we still have more than two hours of daylight, so if you’re by the water, keep watch, as they might head back this way. Let us know if you see them – 206-293-6302 – thanks!
Thanks to Greg for the photo of San Francisco’s future fireboat, “which has been circling (and enjoying a wonderful sunny Sunday afternoon) in Puget Sound, south of the lighthouse for the past few hours.” It’s been in the area a while – the 88′ x 25′ x 14′ “super-pumper” fireboat was built at Vigor on Harbor Island. According to a Reddit member who included a photo from on board earlier today, the fireboat will head south for delivery within the next week. It cost about $12 million, reports the San Francisco Examiner. San Francisco kids were invited to enter a contest to name the new fireboat (so far we haven’t found word of a winner).
P.S. Checking MarineTraffic.com right before publishing this at 4:29 pm, we see it’s still out there, labeled as “Fireboat 3.”
The U.S. Navy has announced which ships you’ll see sailing past West Seattle (and along the downtown waterfront) during this year’s Seafair Parade of Ships.
It’s set for Tuesday, August 2nd – the official time is 1 pm, but that’s usually the downtown sail-by, so you’ll be looking for the ships off West Seattle shores closer to noon. The U.S. Navy is sending the amphibious assault ship USS Somerset (LPD 25):
And the guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley (DDG 101), which was here last year (photo below is from our coverage of the 2015 Parade of Ships):
They’ll be joined by a Royal Canadian Navy ship and a U.S. Coast Guard vessel. Free ship tours are planned Wednesday-Sunday:
The ship on Pier 66 will be open for public visitation Wednesday, August 3 – Sunday, August 7 from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. The ship on Pier 90 will be open for public visitation Wednesday, August 3 – Thursday, August 4 from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.; on Friday, August, 5 from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m.; and then Sunday, August 7 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be no ship tour at Pier 90 on Saturday, August 6. Times for tours may vary from day-to-day. More information will be released on exact times for each day as Fleet Week grows closer.
You can watch this page on the Seafair website for details (including the tour rules). On Parade of Ships day, best place to watch is near Duwamish Head, as the ships get a little closer to shore while heading toward the downtown waterfront, but they’re visible from Alki Beach too.
A new way to see undersea! “Diver Laura” James is shooting with 360-degree video equipment and shares two clips with us. You can benefit from the full-surround perspective by putting your cursor in the video and clicking/dragging it around, to look up, down, all around. Above, she was off Constellation Park with jellyfish; below – in the Alki Pipeline shallows with perch:
7:12 AM: Thanks to Laurie for e-mailing to report a sighting of two orcas, southbound off Emma Schmitz Overlook around 6:47 am. This would be the second day of sightings in central Puget Sound – Trileigh tipped us to this Orca Network discussion Monday, but to our knowledge they didn’t turn up right off West Seattle.
10:30 AM: Thanks to Dan Ciske for sending photos taken about an hour ago from the Seattle-Bainbridge ferry!
12:46 PM: Two recent comments (thank you!) indicate orcas are heading northbound past West Seattle shores.
1:29 PM: Still out there! Just in from Norman Sigler via Twitter:
— #StillSanders (@NormanSiglerPol) June 28, 2016
Out of the WSB inbox, from Kevin:
I was running this morning and saw a whale just west of Don Armeni park. It was headed westward, slowly. The whale was young/small, but definitely a whale, not a porpoise or something. It was big, just seemingly small for a whale by my estimation. If I had to hazard a guess, 15-20′ long??
Anyhow, wanted to report it given the story last month of the whale off Vashon. The whale spouted, and I watched its back crest out of the water as it surfaced and went back down. Time was 5:20 am.
Reminder: If you see a marine mammal you think is in trouble – be sure to notify the local marine-mammal stranding network, Seal Sitters MMSN, at 206-905-SEAL.
4:48 PM: That big drill we mentioned yesterday, with air and sea action off West Seattle, is ramping up right now. If you missed the advance alert, it would look pretty alarming, given that the intent is “to test and solidify the capabilities of the Regional Maritime Tactical Action Group in response to an active shooter or hostage type event aboard a vessel in the Puget Sound”:
The King County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Section invited media to go out on the Water Taxi vessel Sally Fox to observe and photograph, and co-publisher Patrick Sand is there for WSB.
5:28 PM: KCSO just tweeted this video of officers boarding the boat via helicopter:
If the ferry line is too long this Memorial Day weekend, try getting on this way pic.twitter.com/1PmfR5iqVM
— KingcosoPIO (@kingcosoPIO) May 26, 2016
Our photo is a different view from below, while that was in the works:
11 PM: The drill was expected to go at least until now, and MarineTraffic.com shows the Sally Fox is still out there. David Hutchinson shares an afternoon view from Jack Block Park:
That’s where media crews went after the briefing at T-5 that started the observation period. T-5 was headquarters for the helicopters, both KCSO’s Guardian One, the same helicopter that shows up to help Seattle Police with searches sometimes:
And a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter:
That agency had a boat, too:
See more photos after the jump:
(UPDATED 4:05 PM with drydock loaded)
12:36 PM: Though it’s been in Elliott Bay for several days, the heavy-transport ship Tern – that orange ship that appears to be missing its middle – is drawing increasing attention, at least in the WSB inbox, in just the past 24 hours or so. We’ve been working to find out more about its visit before publishing something, and now we have enough to share.
It’s owned by Dockwise, which describes itself online as “the global market leader in heavy marine transport with over 30 years’ experience.” The Tern’s fact sheet is here; it was built in Norway in 1982 and is 180 meters long.
Now, the part we couldn’t find online: Thanks to Peter McGraw at the Port of Seattle for helping us track down what it’s here for, He pointed us to Vigor Shipyards on Harbor Island, where senior vice president for public affairs Jill Mackie tells WSB, “The vessel is here to transport a no-longer-usable Vigor dry dock away from our site. The dry dock, built by Todd for use on this shipyard in 1968, will be recycled. The vessel, loaded with the dry dock is scheduled to depart over the coming weekend. Moving the dry dock frees up pier space for more productive use.”
Mackie says the drydock will be taken to Mexico.
4:05 PM: The drydock is now aboard the Tern. We got this view while riding the Water Taxi back from downtown a short time ago:
Via text (thank you!): A “small pod of orcas” is reported to be in view right now between The Arroyos and Vashon Island, mid-channel. Even if that’s too far south for you – they’ll have to head north eventually!