West Seattle Blog... » Seen at sea http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:14:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Miss this weekend’s orca visit? See them on video! http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/miss-this-weekends-orca-visit-see-them-on-video/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/miss-this-weekends-orca-visit-see-them-on-video/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 06:02:25 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=293061

No West Seattle sightings today that we’ve heard of, but Saturday, Southern Resident orcas passed our area headed southbound in the morning, and then back northbound in the afternoon (as reported here – thanks again to everyone who shared location updates!). “Diver Laura” James was watching from the Brace Point area during the northbound pass, and shares the video above (we mentioned it briefly in last night’s sea-star report but you might have gone right past the link). Note that the boat with the orcas in the last two minutes was carrying researchers.

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West Seattle whale watching: Orcas traveling past us again http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-orcas-headed-this-way/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-orcas-headed-this-way/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 16:53:11 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=292857

(Photo by Trileigh Tucker)
8:53 AM: Southbound orcas were seen from the Bainbridge-Seattle ferry about half an hour ago, according to a thread on the Orca Network Facebook page. That could place them off our shores now or soon. Still blustery out there, so you’ll almost certainly need binoculars (also, sounds like they’re closer to the east side of the Sound). Let us know if you see them!

9:38 AM: In comments, Gary noted them passing Alki Point, and we’ve since received Jeff Hogan (Killer Whale Tales)’s text report of a Lincoln Park-area sighting, still southbound. This time of year, they are chasing the chum salmon run – same one that has brought net fishers into view in the past few weeks – so here’s hoping they are finding the food they need for survival.

(Photo by Paul B)
2:27 PM: See comments for the orcas’ travels since then. Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail has just posted on Facebook that they’ve turned back northbound and could be passing south West Seattle shores again by 3 pm if they continue their current path. We’ve also added photos from earlier.

3:37 PM: Donna just called – the whales are visible from Lincoln Park, with the blows visible from this side, and she’s off to the South Alki area in about 10 minutes – look for a pod of people watching from shore (she brings excellent binoculars).

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Advance helicopter alert: Drill announced for next Tuesday http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/advance-helicopter-alert-drill-announced-for-next-tuesday/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/advance-helicopter-alert-drill-announced-for-next-tuesday/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 22:06:51 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=292586

That’s a recent photo of the King County Sheriff’s Office helicopter Guardian One; today, KCSO sends an alert that you might spot it flying along the West Seattle coastline next Tuesday, and that’ll be part of a drill:

Notice of Joint Maritime Training Exercise

On Tuesday November 25th the King County Sheriff’s Office TAC 30 team (our department’s tactical unit) will be hosting a multi-agency maritime operations exercise in the area of the Des Moines waterfront. Citizens may see our helicopter flying from the Alki Point area south to Dumas Bay. Hours of the exercise will be from approximately 8 AM until 5 PM.

The main landing zone for the helicopter will be the Des Moines Marina. Agencies participating in the exercise include the Washington State Patrol, Seattle Police, Bainbridge Island Police, the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection and King County Medic One.

There will be numerous law enforcement boats involved in the exercise, along with one boat from Argosy Cruises. The main landing zone for the helicopter will be the Des Moines Marina. During the exercise there will be no public access to the pier.

We’ll remind you again when it gets closer, but for now, just so you know; the law-enforcement boats might be noticed as they head that way, too.

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Sea-star deaths: New research points to not-new virus http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/sea-star-deaths-new-research-points-to-not-new-virus/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/sea-star-deaths-new-research-points-to-not-new-virus/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 22:23:22 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=292374

(File photo courtesy Laura James)
Thanks to “Diver Laura” James, who long has worked on the sea-star die-off mystery as a “citizen scientist,” for the tip on this: New scientific research says a virus is the likely culprit in the deaths of so many of what are commonly known as starfish. The Seattle Times (WSB partner) published a report this afternoon, pointing to the research paper itself (read it here), which concludes, “Based on our observations, the densovirus, SSaDV, is the most likely virus involved in this disease.” However, the researchers note, this isn’t a new virus, so they still don’t have the big picture of what’s happening and what it might lead to.

P.S. It’s been a year since Diver Laura first pointed out die-off evidence on West Seattle shores/in West Seattle waters, and she’s continuing to follow up on what’s happening now.

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Port-backup update: More ships arrive & are at anchor tonight http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/port-backup-update-more-ships-arrive-are-at-anchor-in-area-tonight/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/port-backup-update-more-ships-arrive-are-at-anchor-in-area-tonight/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 03:32:22 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=291820

Following up on the West Coast port backup noted here on Monday (the union and terminal operators, still in contract talks, disagree on its cause): The number of cargo ships at anchor in this area has increased tonight. One of the ships that had been off Manchester for a few days, the Hyundai Force, moved on to Tacoma (as shown in Cheryl’s photo above) this afternoon. Two more arrived in that area, so tonight, MarineTraffic.com shows three ships off Manchester, two in Elliott Bay off northeast West Seattle/Harbor Island (the OOCL London, shown here Monday, and the YM March), and two off Magnolia.

(Added: Photo taken tonight by Don Brubeck)
Seattle’s terminals were closed today for the Veterans Day holiday.

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Noticing more big ships at anchor instead of docked? Here’s why http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/noticing-more-big-ships-at-anchor-instead-of-docked-heres-why/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/noticing-more-big-ships-at-anchor-instead-of-docked-heres-why/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 22:16:01 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=291664

While sizable ships anchor off Don Armeni from time to time, seldom have we seen a loaded-with-containers cargo ship there, appearing almost close enough to touch, as did the OOCL London this morning. Over the weekend, Beach Drive Blog pointed out the two cargo ships visible at anchor across the Sound, off Manchester; from West Seattle, you can see two more ships anchored off Magnolia.

It’s a visible effect of an alleged “slowdown” that comes six months into West Coast contract talks between the ILWU, which says it’s “congestion,” and the terminal operators of the Pacific Maritime Association, which accuses the ILWU of “orchestrated job actions.” According to this online schedule, OOCL London was to dock at Terminal 18 yesterday; one of the ships waiting off Manchester, the Hyundai Force, was to dock at T-18 Saturday.

The pace of work is reported to have picked up at both ports today – at the Port of Seattle per its seaport division managing director Linda Stryk in a phone conversation with WSB, and Tacoma per this an updated “operation status” online. Styrk calls the increase in ships at anchor a “snowballing effect” of last week’s “very low productivity,” while adding, “productivity improved over the weekend” but warning “it will take some time to catch up with the snowball effect.” Since the Port’s only role in this is as a “landlord,” as Styrk put it, the best they can do is engage in “advocacy and raising concerns up the flagpole, encouraging both parties to come to terms.” That advocacy, she added, includes making note of the effects the slowdown is having on exports. “People recognize that low productivity is not good for jobs; hopefully the advocacy of impacts will help them keep moving in a more-positive direction.”

TUESDAY AFTERNOON NOTE: The Hyundai Force left Manchester today for Tacoma.

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West Seattle whale watch: Humpback travels past our shore http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-whale-watch-one-northbound-off-beach-drive/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-whale-watch-one-northbound-off-beach-drive/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 21:27:29 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=291165

1:27 PM: Thanks to two tipsters who have mentioned a lone whale – believed to be a humpback – headed northbound, fairly close to West Seattle’s shore. By Me-Kwa-Mooks on Beach Drive, according to the phone call we just received. Let us know if you see it!

4:43 PM: As commenters noted, it traveled into Elliott Bay. Wade tweeted the photo we’ve added above.

THURSDAY MORNING: 7:30 am sighting near Seahurst in Burien, according to the Orca Network FB page.

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West Seattle birdwatching: Brown pelican seen off Alki http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-birdwatching-brown-pelican-seen-off-alki/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-birdwatching-brown-pelican-seen-off-alki/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 08:21:16 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=290373

Thanks to Guy and Joy Smith for another unusual Alki Point sighting – a brown pelican. They report it “rested on the water just north of Alki Point (Wednesday) before it headed south around the point.” Though the photo is from a distance, it’s clear from the pelican’s coloring that it’s a mature brown pelican – the ones that are truly “brown” are juveniles, like this one that hung around West Seattle for a while in early 2013. They are more common the further south you go, but generally keep to the seacoast and aren’t often seen on inland waterways like ours.

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West Seattle whale watching: Look for orcas tomorrow http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-whale-watching-look-for-orcas-tomorrow/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-whale-watching-look-for-orcas-tomorrow/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 02:56:51 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=289459 Late in the day, orcas were back in the area, first time since last Friday’s throng, heading south – thanks to @sudsymaggie for tweeting the report! – so if you’re by the water tomorrow, keep watch, and please let us know (text/call 206-293-6302) if you see them. Even though weather made the viewing tougher, orca lovers were somewhat balmed, after the sadness of last night’s report that the Southern Resident Killer Whales’ first baby in two years is missing and presumed dead.

Unlike most of their counterparts, the southern residents subsist on fish, and they are here looking for chum salmon; as of last weekend, the run didn’t yet appear to be plentiful – Guy Smith on Alki Point sent a photo of a purse seiner that he said didn’t seem to be hauling much in on Sunday night (though apparently it did net some fish before departing Monday morning).

Also regarding the chum, our friends at the Kitsap Sun have published this update about how things are looking across the water.

WEDNESDAY MORNING: A sighting was reported from the Bainbridge ferry just after 7 am, by a commenter on the Orca Network FB page, a few orcas headed toward the southwest. Weather’s awfully murky today but conditions can change quickly, so …

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Puget Sound orcas’ first baby in 2 years missing, presumed dead http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/puget-sound-orcas-first-baby-in-2-years-missing-and-presumed-dead/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/puget-sound-orcas-first-baby-in-2-years-missing-and-presumed-dead/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 05:45:18 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=289374

(Photo by Carrie Sapp)
After the Southern Resident Killer Whales came through last Friday, the experts noticed someone missing in other regional sightings – baby L120, first calf born to the local orcas in two years. No one wanted to announce her death until word came from orca experts – and now it has, shared in a news release via Orca Network:

The Center for Whale Research has confirmed that baby L120, only about seven weeks old and the third known offspring of a 23-year old Southern Resident orca known as L86, was not with his or her mother when she and other members of L pod were photographed recently in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research said, “L86 was seen and photographed on Friday, Saturday, and Monday, all without L120.”

L120 was the first newborn Southern Resident offspring seen since August 2012. In February of that year the the body of L86′s second offspring, 3-year old female L112, washed up at Long Beach Wash. with indications of death by severe acoustic trauma.

Research conducted in recent years has shown that Southern Resident orcas depend almost entirely on chinook salmon for sustenance, with a diet of chum salmon during fall months when chinook are especially scarce.

This orca clan has suffered episodic food deficiency for many decades, as chinook salmon runs were depleted by habitat destruction, excessive harvest and dams from Alaska to California. They were also routinely shot at for decades and over 50 were captured or killed for theme parks during the 1960s and 70s, followed by wanton disposal of persistent toxins into Puget Sound that continue to impair fetal development and immune responses, especially when the whales can’t find sufficient food.

“We haven’t treated these magnificent orcas well at all. As a society we are not successfully restoring this orca community despite the many warnings and legal declarations. Our challenge is clear: bountiful salmon runs must be restored and protected or we won’t see Resident orcas in the Salish Sea in coming years.” said Howard Garrett of Orca Network.

The loss of her second baby must be especially traumatic for L86, but knowing this young orca will never grow up and reproduce is painful for all who care about this precariously dwindling extended family. Now down to only 78 members, the Southern Resident community is at or below their numbers in 2001 when alarms rang with such intensity that they were eventually listed as endangered under the ESA in 2005.

Is it time to take more dramatic protection measures? As previously announced, one proposal will be the topic of The Whale Trail‘s next Orca Talk in West Seattle, October 30th – details here.

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VIDEO, PHOTOS: Orcas swim past West Seattle whale-watchers http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-whale-watching-orcas-back-in-the-area/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-whale-watching-orcas-back-in-the-area/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:59:08 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=288935

(Starting at :15 in, you’ll see some whales – sorry for the shakiness, very long zoom!)
8:59 AM: If you’re anywhere near the water today, keep watch for orcas! Just before nightfall Thursday, the Orca Network had southbound sightings in the north Sound – first sightings that far south in quite a while. Then this morning around 7:30 am, according to West Seattleite Jeff Hogan from Killer Whale Tales, sightings were reported off Vashon Island – still southbound, but at some point, they will have to head back this way, so we’re sharing the alert. If you see whales, please let us know (text/voice 206-293-6302 is our breaking-news hotline, and this qualifies); we’ll update with any reports.

9:40 AM: Still southbound, south of us, per this ON commenter – off Point Robinson on Maury Island (across Puget Sound from Des Moines) about 20 minutes ago.

10:44 AM: Now at least some of the whales are reported to have turned and headed northbound.

12:14 PM: Jeff just texted to say that whales believed to be from all three resident pods are “trending northbound” past Three Tree Point south of West Seattle.

(Added: Photo by Greg Snyder)
1:28 PM: In view! Passing Blake Island.

1:58 PM: The research boat is visible off Blake Island – binoculars definitely needed – if you are near Me-Kwa-Mooks on Beach Drive as we are now. Some whales are ahead of it, some behind.

5:38 PM: Continuing to add visuals from today’s sightings as we get them. Above and (added) below, photos by Gary Jones, as the orcas passed Alki Lighthouse.

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Protected zone for orcas? Find out about it at The Whale Trail’s upcoming Orca Talk http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/protected-zone-for-orcas-find-out-about-it-at-the-whale-trails-upcoming-orca-talk/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/protected-zone-for-orcas-find-out-about-it-at-the-whale-trails-upcoming-orca-talk/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 01:04:37 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=288799

Here’s word of the first presentation in a new series of Orca Talks presented by West Seattle-headquartered The Whale Trail: You’ll hear about the proposal for “A Protected Zone for Puget Sound Orcas,” 7 pm Thursday, October 30th at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor). From TWT executive director Donna Sandstrom:

The Southern Resident Killer Whales are endangered and seriously declining; their 2014 population of 79 is the lowest since 1985. To aid their recovery, Orca Relief is urging NOAA Fisheries to conduct a public process that will result in a Whale Protection Zone for the SRKWs.

A well designed and enforced WPZ would provide the Southern Resident Orca a safe-haven in the very core of their critical habitat, and a relief from vessel impacts including noise, disturbance and air pollution. Bruce Stedman, Executive Director of Orca Relief, will describe the key aspects of how a protected area for the Orca should be developed and how it could help the SRKWs begin to recover.

Join us to hear the latest about the orcas, and updates from Robin Lindsay (Seal Sitters), and “Diver Laura” James (tox-ick.org).

These talks are usually sellouts – get your ticket(s) ASAP online, $5 suggested donation, kids free. C & P is at 5612 California SW.

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Video: Seen off West Seattle shores, ‘Beneath a Dark Sea’ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/video-seen-off-west-seattle-shores-beneath-a-dark-sea/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/video-seen-off-west-seattle-shores-beneath-a-dark-sea/#comments Sun, 05 Oct 2014 03:01:08 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=287850

Last time we featured undersea video from “Diver Laura” James – observing a curious octopus – we heard clamors for more. Laura has obliged, inviting us to share the clip you see above, which she titled “Beneath a Dark Sea.” Yes, these are local waters – Cove 2, right off Seacrest.

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Video: Late-night octopus-watching off West Seattle’s shore http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/video-late-night-octopus-watching-off-west-seattles-shore/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/video-late-night-octopus-watching-off-west-seattles-shore/#comments Sun, 28 Sep 2014 21:55:05 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=287170 Thank you, as always, to “Diver Laura” James for sharing another view of what you won’t see unless you’re a diver too. From her dive last night off Seacrest, an unedited stretch of octopus-watching:

Un-cut octopus footage from 9/28 from Laura James on Vimeo.

Along with the link, Laura wrote: “We spent almost 10 minutes with this amazing beautiful creature before we had to leave because of depth, time and air constraints (though I would have happily spent all night). It turns out my buddy swam right over the well-camouflaged octopus and was checking out the den of another octopus looking to see if there were any eggs (none to be found so far). You can see me signal him by bobbing my lights. The octopus gets curious and decides it wants to come check me out (I’m actually swimming backwards in some of the video) until my dive buddy comes over and then it decides to do something even more entertaining. Upon noticing my dive buddy, it ceases advancing on me and for lack of a better descriptive, turns around and starts sneaking up on my buddy. You can actually see it hunkering down and hiding behind the log, then it squeezes under the log and boo! Octopus! It does not appear upset in any of the interactions, more curious and checking things out. It does get upset later on when it tries to invade the den of a second octopus and gets into a bit of a wrestling match.” P.S. Interesting Giant Pacific Octopus info and trivia here.

P.S. On a much-smaller scale – remember Laura’s iPhone-microscope plankton-watching? She has agreed to join us in the WSB booth at the West Seattle Junction Harvest Festival four weeks from today, so you can bring your kid(s) by to have a look at the tiny creatures that fill our seas. The Harvest Festival is set for 10 am-2 pm Sunday, October 26th.

ADDED 3:42 PM: Laura just sent an edited video with a “potpourri of critters” from the dive, so we’re adding it:

Potpourri of Critters from Laura James on Vimeo.

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West Seattle Crime Watch: Arrest on the water; missing fire pit; burglary http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/west-seattle-crime-watch-arrest-on-the-water-missing-fire-pit/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/west-seattle-crime-watch-arrest-on-the-water-missing-fire-pit/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 06:34:49 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=285730 West Seattle Crime Watch notes:

TROUBLE AT SEA: Thanks to Wendy (who sent that photo), Erin, and Lynn for mentioning police activity on the water and on land off the Don Armeni/Anchor (Luna) Park area around sunset tonight. After hearing via the scanner that police were going to tow a boat downtown, we headed over in hopes of asking shoreside officers what was going on, but we just missed them. Via e-mail, we did get some information from Southwest Precinct Lt. Paul Leung, who says it involved “a disturbance between a male and a female. Officers boarded the boat. The female retracted her story but the male was arrested for several outstanding DV [domestic violence] warrants.”

MISSING FIRE PIT: James, near Lincoln Park, says the fire pit used for neighborhood gatherings all summer is suddenly missing.

(Saturday), my family and I went to Alki for lunch and then ran some errands. We’re sure the fire pit was out front when we left, but now it’s not. It was close to the street, but didn’t have a ‘Free’ sign or anything on it. I’d like to see if a nearby neighbor picked it up wondering if it was indeed abandoned. We live on a block with very light traffic (46th Ave SW between Kenyon & Austin) and don’t see many cars that don’t live close. It disappeared between noon and 4:30 on Saturday (yesterday).

The fire pit is black iron. The base is up on legs, and the fire is in a tray surrounded by an iron lattice. It’s probably 3 feet long on its longer side, and 2 feet wide. Can you see if anyone in the neighborhood took it thinking we were giving it away? No harm no foul if we get it back.

It has been reported to police just in case it WASN’T a mistake.

ADDED 1 AM – SUNDAY BURGLARY: Just missed a phone call from someone who reported being burglarized in Belvidere Sunday, coming home to find their home on 37th SW “trashed,” including jewelry left behind that didn’t belong to them.

P.S. No West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting this month, but WSCPC says it will reconvene in October (10/21, 7 pm, at the precinct).

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