West Seattle, Washington
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!
Some noticed this was a very busy day at Don Armeni Boat Ramp and on Elliott Bay today – and as soon as we were asked about it, we found out why: Area waters were open to recreational shrimp fishing for one day only, 7 am to 3 pm.
The state-mandated limit for those who went out today was 80 shrimp. Here’s a state-produced guide to which shrimp are most common locally.
(Video by Rick R)
That’s reader video of a gray whale seen off Brace Point this morning – likely the same whale that was moving slowly through the center of Puget Sound last Saturday. As Robin Lindsey of the Seal Sitters Marine Stranding Network reported, authorities went out to assess that whale’s health on Saturday, but they have yet to make a statement on what they found. This time of year, gray whales still in Puget Sound might be ailing and/or hungry. One died off north Vashon last month. The reader who sent the video and photo this morning said the whale was heading slowly north toward the Fauntleroy ferry dock at the time.
We have since heard from someone who saw it off Lincoln Park. Updates if and when we get them – and if you are out on the water, remember that you have to stay at least 100 yards away.
11:29 AM: Thanks to everyone who has texted and e-mailed about this, including Delfino Muñoz, who sent the photo above: A gray whale is in the middle of Puget Sound between West Seattle and Vashon Island and may be in trouble. Those who have watched it from afar and up close say it hasn’t moved much for some time. We looked through binoculars from the south end of Emma Schmitz Overlook and also noted that it was fairly stationary. We know it’s been reported to the local marine-mammal stranding network, Seal Sitters (206-905-SEAL), and to the state. Gray-whale sightings in Puget Sound aren’t rare, but this time of year, some that don’t make it back out to the open ocean for the annual Pacific Coast migration may be lingering because they are ill or undernourished. Earlier this month, one such gray whale was first seen in the Ballard Locks and then found dead between north Vashon and Fauntleroy. We’ll update if we find out anything more about the whale that’s out there right now.
2:43 PM UPDATE: Just got an update from Robin @ Seal Sitters, that those keeping an eye on the whale might see a boat closer to it than boats are supposed to be – researchers from Fish and Wildlife and Cascadia Research Collective are headed out to try to assess the whale’s condition and make sure it’s not entangled. WSB’s Christopher Boffoli got this view from Beach Drive, though the whale is much closer to the other side:
Christopher reported the whale is definitely blowing regularly, though not moving much. Robin also says they’ve advised the Coast Guard about the whale, since it’s in the shipping lanes and they want cargo ships to know to steer clear – Christopher photographed one passing:
We’ll continue to update when more information’s available.
Earlier this week, we mentioned today’s departure of the Clipper 70s racing yachts, just in case they were going to be visible from West Seattle shores. @KANtext saw the story and tweeted this today:
— KANtext (@KANtext) April 28, 2016
And James Tilley caught a surface view from the Water Taxi:
The race’s next leg is Panama-bound.
Thanks to the WSB reader who tipped us to this recently – we can’t find the original message so can’t credit by name but we did finally get a chance to look up the source info: This Thursday, if you have a view of Elliott Bay toward downtown, you’ll get to see the Clipper 70s racing yachts parading, and then presenting an ocean-racing exhibition, before they head out to the next leg of their round-the-world race. Boaters are invited to join in. That’s set for 1-5 pm Thursday (April 28th) – full details here.
P.S. If you’re interested in touring the yachts before they go, you can do that at Bell Harbor Marina on the downtown waterfront, until 7 pm today and again 11 am-7 pm one last time tomorrow.
ORIGINAL REPORT, 1:28 PM: Thanks to the tipster who let us know that the 236-foot superyacht Albatross is sailing north on the Duwamish River right now, after leaving Delta Marine. We don’t know if it’s heading all the way into Elliott Bay, nor whether this is a shakedown cruise or journeying toward delivery to its owner, but if you’re among the many WSB readers who like to know about unusual boat sightings off our shores, here’s your heads-up. MarineTraffic.com shows it approaching the 1st Avenue South Bridge as we hit “publish” on this note (1:28 pm).
2:05 PM: We’re watching from Jack Block Park. It’s now headed NW in Elliott Bay.
3:01 PM: MT now shows it moored in Magnolia’s Smith Cove. We’ve added our photos taken from Jack Block as Albatross (worth $80 million per this page) crossed the bay.
Thanks to Chris Frankovich for the photo: That’s the USAV General Brehon B. Somervell, aka LSV-3, based in Tacoma, heading north past West Seattle’s western shores this morning. The ship is assigned to the U.S. Army Reserve‘s 805th Transportation Detachment. We don’t know where it’s headed, but as of right now, MarineTraffic.com shows it passing Whidbey Island.
Now that we all know April 29th is the date the tunneling machine is set to start going under the Alaskan Way Viaduct – closing it precautionarily for “about two weeks” – that date will be top-of-mind for a while. Something else that’s big for the city also starts two weeks from today: This year’s cruise-ship season. The first ship on the schedule, Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam, will be here that day. But it’s docking at Magnolia’s Pier 91, not the Viaduct-side Pier 66. According to a Port of Seattle fact sheet, this year’s season will bring the most passengers ever – just under 960,000. The 203 ship dockings aren’t a record, though; that number peaked in 2010, with 223. Last ship on the Seattle schedule this year will be the Star Princess, on October 21st.
The photo and info are from Robin Lindsey of Seal Sitters – who deal with more than seals:
With the recent media buzz about the gray whale who wandered into the Ballard Locks, Seal Sitters thought it was a good opportunity to discuss the timely manner in which all whale (and other cetacean) sightings should be reported to the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network.
Unless a whale is deemed in danger (such as entangled or stranded), all reports including species and as precise a location as possible, should be emailed promptly to Orca Network – email@example.com.
For whales that are indeed in trouble – or in an area where we would prefer they not be, such as in the Duwamish River or Ballard Locks, please immediately contact the NOAA West Coast MMSN hotline at 866-767-6114 with as precise a location as possible.
Seal Sitters requests that if a whale is sighted along the shoreline of West Seattle, please contact the Seal Sitters Hotline at 206-905-7325 (SEAL) and then email Orca Network. This will potentially enable our first responders to obtain an identification photograph of the whale. Databases are kept by researchers of all whales and identification helps monitor the health of the species.
I have provided a photograph to help for identification purposes showing the distinct profile of a surfacing gray whale, with its trademark mottled gray skin and “knuckles” along the ridge of the lower back. Humpbacks and other whales have a dorsal fin.
Read more on the Seal Sitters’ Blubberblog website.
P.S. And after making the official reports mentioned above, please consider letting us know, too, as whale sightings are news! 206-293-6302 text or voice, 24/7.
Join us for this rare Seattle appearance by renowned whale researcher Bruce Mate. Bruce will demonstrate how his teams use satellite-monitored radio tags to identify critical habitats and migration routes of endangered whales to protect them. His talk will focus on western and ENP gray whales, right whales, and contemporary issues for blue whales during the last few years of warm water as examples.
Bruce Mate is the Director and Endowed Chair of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, and founder of Oregon’s Whale Watching Spoken Here program.
Bruce’s talk is hosted by The Whale Trail, and co-sponsored by Seal Sitters and the American Cetacean Society, Puget Sound Chapter. Celebrate Earth Day by learning about whales!
Tickets are $10 ($5 for kids under 12) – available now at brownpapertickets.com.