In the midst of all the hectic holiday activities on Saturday – orcas swam by West Seattle shores. Thanks to Trileigh Tucker for sharing photos!
Trileigh watched the orcas from Lowman Beach.
The sun had just set when the Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship and its accompanying vessels arrived at Lowman Beach tonight, first of two stops on its first of two nights visiting West Seattle this season. Seattle Parks set up a hospitality tent as always, as well as a bonfire, while, from onboard, The Dickens Carolers spent about 20 minutes serenading hundreds lining the shore. After Lowman, the Christmas Ship sailed on to Alki. If you missed tonight’s stops, you have another chance on Monday, December 16th, when the Christmas Ship will bring the Pacific Sound Chorus to Elliott Bay just off the shores of Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor) and vicinity (Seacrest Park) 9:15-9:35 pm. Its full schedule of stops around Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and Lake Union is here.
Update: Victoria Clipper IV stolen; SWAT team arrests suspect, who claimed he wanted to get to West SeattleDecember 1, 2013 at 9:41 am | In Seen at sea, West Seattle news | 36 Comments
9:41 AM: If you have a view across Elliott Bay from West Seattle, you might have noticed emergency vessels around one of the Victoria Clipper boats – Carolyn Newman shared the photo, and we received a call from Louise in North Admiral. Seattle Police tweeted, “Report of a suspicious person aboard the otherwise unoccupied Victoria Clipper. Coast Guard has called in our Bomb Squad.” In addition to being unoccupied, the boat is also unmoored. It’s just off the downtown waterfront, but again, in case you noticed the activity from here, that’s what’s up.
10:26 AM: Update from SPD: “Officers are in contact with the man on the Victoria Clipper and are still working to resolve the situation.”
10:36 AM: Suspect in custody, SPD tweets:
Suspect in Elliott Bay incident taken into custody aboard the Victoria Clipper.
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) December 1, 2013
11:55 AM: According to the SPD Blotter account of the Clipper-commandeering incident, the suspect claims he wanted to take it to West Seattle!
…The boat was discovered 300 yards out from Pier 69 on the Seattle waterfront around 7 AM, and it first appeared the Clipper ship was adrift.
However, when a tugboat went to retrieve the boat, they discovered there was a man on board and contacted the Coast Guard and police. SPD’s SWAT, patrol and Arson Bomb Squad responded to Elliott Bay along with Port of Seattle police and US Coast Guard boat and helicopter teams.
Police negotiators contacted the man on the ship and, eventually, a tactical team boarded the vessel and arrested the suspect. The man told police he had planned to take the boat to West Seattle.
The suspect will be booked into the King County Jail for yet-to-be-determined charges (piracy or grand theft vessel) and the boat will be towed back to port.
Closest photos we’ve seen are from KIRO TV, which called in its chopper.
1:39 PM: The president of the Victoria Clipper’s parent company told the Victoria Times-Colonist he was in his waterfront office when he saw the boat take off, unscheduled. Read the interview here.
7:10 PM: The man arrested by police has a long record, according to what we’re finding; today is his 33rd birthday. He is a registered sex offender named Samuel McDonough, address listed as Pike/Broadway (Capitol Hill); his most recent sexually motivated crime, records show, involved indecent exposure outside a coffee stand in Issaquah last year. We’re still checking publicly available records to look for any West Seattle links. His page (with photo) on the sex-offender registry is here.
We feel fairly confident in saying that most West Seattleites are thankful for the beauty all around our peninsula. In honor of that, we’ve been saving this video shared with us earlier this week by Greg Daly, who explained, “I built a tricopter to get some cool ski footage … I’ve been practicing around West Seattle and the end result is pretty cool!” It is! See for yourself.
P.S. Greg in fact shared a skiing video here almost two years ago – Gatewood to Lowman!
You have probably heard of the die-off of sea stars – aka starfish – all along the West Coast, and in some East Coast spots too. Regional and national news organizations are paying attention – the Washington Post covered the die-off just this week. But nothing brings it home like seeing what “Diver Laura” James observed in West Seattle waters this weekend. She recorded video off Seacrest on Saturday and uploaded the clip (go here if you can’t see/play the embedded version above) early today, two weeks after she documented dead stars on the beach (as reported here). Discussing her video early today via e-mail, she told us, “I knew it was bad, but I hadn’t seen it in a couple weeks, and it was crushing to see bodies piled on top of bodies and the pilings bare.”
This epidemic is fast-growing; this KING 5 report from a month ago features Seattle Aquarium investigators saying only sunflower stars were affected, yet now it’s moved to other species, as Laura’s video shows so vividly. Researchers continue to say they haven’t figured it out, except for the fact that it’s happening in many places – we found this tracking map as well as media coverage including Sonoma County north of San Francisco, Half Moon Bay south of San Francisco, Southern California, and the earliest reports this fall, from British Columbia.
If you saw a sizable emergency response near Harbor/Fairmount – Seattle Fire and US Coast Guard are saying it was a false alarm. Someone thought they saw a boat taking on water but it was believed to have just been one of the offshore buoys, no vessel in trouble after all.
After two days of items falling out of the skies, tonight, something that washed up. Brenda found the wine bottle shown below – message inside, Beringer label outside – on a West Seattle beach, and hopes to find out who cast it out to sea and where/when:
I was out with some dogs on a private beach area near the Fauntleroy Ferry Dock in West Seattle when one of the dogs went out to the tide line and showed me a bottle floating in the water. I picked the bottle up and saw it had a note in it. The note got a bit wet and dried it out so could get out of the bottle. Unfortunately, it is really hard to read the note but can make out some of it along with a small surprise within the bottle. I would like to tell whomever where their bottle ended up. If anyone recognizes their treasure, please respond. I can read enough of the note to know if it is you or not. This was an exciting find and will look forward to letting the person know. I do know it is from the US & within the last year from what is on and in the bottle. If this is someone from West Seattle, this will work…..otherwise, it will remain a mystery. Thanks.
Yours? Or someone you know? Brenda will be checking the comments.
(Photo by Candace Emmons, NOAA Fisheries)
Our area’s resident orcas were seen in nearby waters three times this past week – the photo above, in fact, is from one of those days. And now, without even taking your binoculars to the shore, you have a chance to find out more about our local killer whales, courtesy of The Whale Trail and NOAA:
Killer Whales in Winter – Recent Findings about Range, Diet and Behaviors
Presentation by Brad Hanson, NOAA Fisheries
Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 7 – 9 PM (doors open 6:30), C & P Coffee (5612 California SW)
$5 suggested donation, kids free
Tickets available brownpapertickets.com
Presented by The Whale Trail
Where do the southern resident orcas go during the winter? What do they eat? And how will that information help move this endangered population toward recovery?
Brad Hanson, NOAA Fisheries, will discuss the innovative research techniques that are being deployed to answer these and other key questions. Satellite telemetry and genetic analysis of prey and fecal sampling are providing new information about where the orcas are going, and what they are eating. LIke scientific detectives, Brad and his colleague are solving the mysteries that are critical to the orcas’ survival.
Join us on November 12 to hear first-hand about these research efforts, what the data are showing, and what it means for the long-term recovery of this population.
Brad is an ecologist with NOAA Fisheries Science Center, who studies the foraging and habitat use of Southern Resident killer whales.
This is the first in a new series of Orca Talks hosted by The Whale Trail in West Seattle.
The event also features updates from Robin Lindsay (Seal Sitters), and Diver Laura James (tox-ick.org and Puget Soundkeeper Alliance), and photography and art from Judy Lane.
Buy tickets ahead of time and we’ll save you a seat! And hurry – this will likely sell out.
The car carrier Tijuca is headed to Tacoma right now after being anchored off Don Armeni for a while yesterday/last night, catching the eyes of some WSB readers who asked us about it; we photographed it this morning. Tijuca wasn’t on the official Port of Seattle schedule, so we’re wondering if it came in to wait out the windstorm. It is passing western West Seattle right now, according to MarineTraffic.com. These types of vessels pass that side of the peninsula fairly often, but not usually after a detour into the bay.
Speaking of the windstorm:
David French shares that beautiful photo of Alki Point Lighthouse, seen from the Seattle-Bremerton ferry on Saturday.
And a scene from Seacrest:
Carolyn Newman caught sight of a sea lion chowing down on her/his catch. Thanks to Carolyn and David, and to everyone who sends photos to share!
For the third time this week, Puget Sound’s resident orcas are reported to be in the area. Just got an alert from Killer Whale Tales‘ Jeff Hogan; the Orca Network‘s Facebook page has word of the sighting too. They are reported to be visible off Blake Island, across the Sound from west-facing West Seattle, so you’ll need binoculars. Let us know if you see/photograph them!
12:39 PM: The photo was shared by Amanda, who says:
This fish was sitting outside of Sunfish on Alki. Owner said it was caught right in Puget sound waters this morning. Amazing!! … Ironically, it’s actually a sunfish (the restaurant’s namesake). Normally this is a tropical fish, so the owner wasn’t sure why it was in the Sound. It’s not an edible fish, so it’s on display outside his restaurant.
That’s Amanda’s fiancé Kelby Schrock with the sunfish. A bit of online research suggests these fish do turn up in Puget Sound from time to time.
4:42 PM: Thanks to Owen for finding this Seattle Times (WSB partner) item with more information about the fish and how it got to Alki – in short, it was bycatch while a Muckleshoot tribal fishing boat was pulling up its salmon net.
12:13 PM: Can’t guarantee they’ll get this far south, but orcas are reported to be heading this way again today. Off Edmonds and southbound around 10 am, according to Jeff Hogan from Killer Whale Tales, and commenters on the Orca Network Facebook page have seen them further south in the past hour. Let us know if you get a glimpse anywhere close to here!
3:10 PM: Just got a text that they are approaching the Alki area, still southbound at last report.
Thanks to Carolyn Newman for the photo of the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior passing West Seattle earlier today. It’s docked at Pier 66, but it’s not here for a protest – it’s here on an official, pre-scheduled visit, and will be offering tours on the downtown waterfront this weekend – details here.
Let us know if you see it/them too – tipster Cormac reports seeing at least one gray whale in Elliott Bay off Seacrest/Jack Block and the 1300 block of Alki SW.
The cruise ships we mentioned earlier weren’t the only sizable vessels off West Seattle today. Thanks to Chaucer Wells Photography for sharing the top photo with first word of the research vessel Thomas G. Thompson off Me-Kwa-Mooks this afternoon. (update) Tweets indicate the 274-foot TGT was on a student research cruise; it’s operated by the University of Washington School of Oceanography and has been involved in headline-making deep-sea-volcano research, among other things. Brian Baum sent a photo too:
Traveling around Duwamish Head a little while ago, we noticed three cruise ships in port – Celebrity Century at downtown’s Pier 66 above, Holland-America Line’s Oosterdam and Sapphire Princess at Magnolia’s Pier 91 below.
Checking our story from the start of this year’s cruise-ship season, we verified this is the end – last day on the Port of Seattle‘s 2013 cruise-ship schedule.
Here on this rainy Sunday afternoon, we have a few more views from the sunny Saturday afternoon whale-watching that so many were able to do – Top, Betsy Bertiaux shares her view from a kayak; next, Trileigh Tucker caught several whales and the research vessel that was checking them out:
Next, shared via the Orca Network‘s Facebook page, Alisa Lemire Brooks‘ video of the whales before they got here – when they were still to the north – she says they’re from K and L pods:
And one more of our photos showing the whale watchers at Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook on Beach Drive:
If you missed the photos we published yesterday, along with running updates on the whales’ whereabouts – see them here.
(WSB PHOTO ADDED 4:30 PM: Caught 2 in the distance!)
10:12 AM: Just got a text (206-293-6302 any time!) that orcas are heading southbound from the Edmonds area, so you’ll want to keep an eye on our waters. Let us know if you see them – we’ll be on the lookout too.
10:31 AM: Text update says this group has about 20 orcas! Mid-channel.
12:15 PM: They’re not moving all that fast, apparently – newest text has them off Port Madison in north Kitsap County (map). But still southbound.
(PHOTO ADDED SATURDAY EVENING: Trileigh Tucker‘s photo shows orca & freight, research, WSF vessels)
1:52 PM: Finally coming into range, according to our text update – Bainbridge ferry lane. Let us know if/when you actually see them from here!
(WSB PHOTO ADDED 4:30 PM: Whale watchers at Emma Schmitz Overlook)
2:58 PM UPDATE: The orcas are now visible with binoculars looking north in that direction from Alki and Beach Drive, per commenters.
(PHOTO ADDED SATURDAY EVENING: Susan Coles‘ photo shows Donna Sandstrom, next to TWT sign)
4:24 PM UPDATE: We’ve just heard from Donna Sandstrom of The Whale Trail, who’s watching from south of Alki Point and says the orcas appear to be turning northbound, between Blake and Vashon. Doesn’t mean they won’t change direction again, she warns. Still far from this side, so bring binoculars.
SATURDAY EVENING NOTE: We’ve added photos. As for the whales – we got to go back and watch them as they headed northbound, and last saw them after 5 pm just going past Alki Point, though still close enough to the other side to require binoculars.
The newest video shared by “Diver Laura” James takes you 100 feet beneath the surface of the Sound, near Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor), where a diving friend tipped her to, then guided her to, an octopus nest where the eggs were hatching late last Tuesday night.
The video stands on its own as a sight to see, but it’s timely because tomorrow night Laura and other advocates will be part of this month’s Sustainable West Seattle community forum, discussing and advising ways you can help protect Puget Sound. The Tox-Ick.org campaign, to help you do what you can to reduce toxic runoff, will be spotlighted along the way. You’re invited to come learn how to make a difference - in simple but powerful ways – 7 pm Monday (September 16th), Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon).
(WSB photo taken from Upper Fauntleroy this morning – ferry heading toward Vashon)
From today’s edition of Washington State Ferries boss David Moseley‘s weekly newsletter:
Starting this Sunday, Sept. 15, WSF will display our Seahawks pride on home game days by flying the #12 flag on some of our vessels in the system. Thanks to the Seattle Seahawks for graciously giving us the flags to use for this purpose. Go Hawks!
We’re checking to see if Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth will be included. In the meantime, if you see one Sunday, share a photo!
While we get going on today’s news and events – four photos we ran out of time to publish last night, as the “last weekend of summer” begins (we know it’s not TECHNICALLY the end of summer, since the autumn equinox is still three weeks away). Above, Danny McMillin photographed a stand-up paddleboarder passing a rafting sea lion; next, Ryan captured the evening “parking” scene at Ercolini Park west of The Junction:
Back to the water – John Hinkey‘s view from Constellation Park:
And, also from the Beach Drive vicinity (east of Weather Watch Park), Greg snapped the sunset colors:
Thanks as always to community photo contributors – email@example.com is the best way to share yours! Now, on to the rest of the weekend – lots more to report, and share, as Saturday begins.
Thanks to Christine for the tip – she e-mailed with news of a “cool twin-masted sailboat” passing by; MarineTraffic.com revealed it was Lady Washington, the tall ship that’s been featured in movies and music videos (including Macklemore‘s “Can’t Hold Us,” a winner at last night’s MTV Video Music Awards), so we headed down to the shore to grab a photo. According to its website, the Lady Washington is en route from Tacoma to Kirkland, where it’ll be based with another tall ship, Hawaiian Chieftain, through Labor Day. P.S. Macklemore has even made a PSA video urging people to support the nonprofit-owned-and-operated Lady Washington – see it here.
A special attraction on the seawall during this morning’s Great Cross-Sound Race to and from Alki – the OAR Northwest ocean-rowing boat. But the main attraction, as always, was Sound Rowers‘ 7-mile race, with dozens of rowers heading to Bainbridge Island and back (see the course map here). They start fairly far offshore, so, with some zoom and shake, here’s a bit of the early going:
And here’s our video of the first finishers – Conal Groom and Peter Hirtle, followed by a single (we’re awaiting the official results to verify that rower’s name):
Full results should be available later via the Sound Rowers website.
SIDE NOTE: The racing on Alki tomorrow will be on land, with the Alki Beach 5K Run/Walk for Northwest Hope and Healing starting near the bathhouse at 9 am. Even if you’re not participating or watching, remember that Alki Avenue will be closed for a few hours tomorrow morning before and during the race.
Before we get going with the rest of today’s coverage – Danny McMillin, whose photos have appeared on WSB from time to time (especially birds!), made a time-lapse video of last night’s sunset and offered us the chance to share it. In just under one minute, his time-lapse travels all the way to dusk. Thanks, Danny!
The photo and report are from Guy and Joy Smith near Alki Point:
Everyone is enjoying the great summer along Alki. This photo was taken just north of the Lighthouse on Sunday the 11th, showing Elliott Bay’s greenest salmon troller and a canoe passing each other. Leg power and arm power.
P.S. Another reminder – next Saturday, kayakers are invited to join in a West Seattle-based pink-salmon fishing tournament – here’s the announcement we published earlier this week.
In the foreground, that’s “Sparkle” the seal pup, the first one spotted this season by Seal Sitters – and its appearance on an Alki-area platform these past few days unfortunately is cause for an urgent reminder instead of a happy announcement, because of boaters getting way too close. Seal Sitters’ Robin Lindsey estimates the pup to be just a few days old, which means if its mom is scared away, its life is at risk: “It is imperative that people STAY BACK from this platform (both in the water and on shore) to lessen the risk of abandonment and death for this pup, shown here with a larger yearling. There was a steady stream of boaters getting much closer than NOAA’s 100-yard recommendation, causing the adult seals to flee into the Sound.” Robin reiterates that “human interference truly is a matter of life and death for all seal pups their first year of life – and most certainly the first 4 weeks when they are nursing on mom’s rich milk, unable to forage on their own. We are documenting all violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and sending photos to NOAA’s Office for Law Enforcement and WDFW Enforcement for investigations – neither of which takes harassment of wildlife lightly. Boaters need to stay back from rafts, docks and buoys with resting seals and sea lions. For boater guidelines, go here.” Robin shows and tells even more of the story on Blubberblog.
P.S. If you see a seal pup – or a marine mammal of any kind, alive or dead – ashore in the West Seattle area, please call Seal Sitters at 206-905-SEAL (206-905-7325). Elsewhere – find info here.
(August 2011 photo by Craig Savey, taken from Harbor Island)
Consider that orca to be jumping for joy – as orca lovers and protectors are doing too, at least in spirit. The federal government is reported today to have rejected the petition filed earlier this year suggesting that the Southern Resident Killer Whales do not merit protection as a separate, endangered species, so that protection will continue. Here’s a link from The Seattle Times (WSB partner); here’s reaction from the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed the petition that led to the SRKWs’ protection in 2005.
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