West Seattle Blog... » Seen at sea http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Wed, 25 Nov 2015 05:45:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 VIDEO: Wayne Kinslow ends his swimming streak @ 1,200 days http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/video-wayne-kinslow-ends-his-swimming-streak-1200-days/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/video-wayne-kinslow-ends-his-swimming-streak-1200-days/#comments Sat, 14 Nov 2015 19:35:20 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=329116 Back in April, West Seattleite Wayne Kinslow celebrated his 1,000th consecutive day of salt-water swimming, all but three off Alki. After 200 more days, he’s taking a break, starting today:

Thanks to Southwest Seattle Historical Society executive director Clay Eals for sharing his video from Wayne’s final day of the streak on Friday – he’s documented Wayne’s achievements on the SWSHS website (after all, it’s now part of West Seattle history!).

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West Seattle whale watching, afternoon edition: Orcas heading northbound http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-afternoon-edition-orcas-heading-northbound/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-afternoon-edition-orcas-heading-northbound/#comments Tue, 10 Nov 2015 22:13:21 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=328747

(Added: Photo by Trileigh Tucker, taken from Lowman Beach)

2:13 PM: An update from this morning’s report of southbound orcas … a fairly sizable group is now heading northbound and has drawn a crowd off Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook on Beach Drive. Unless they change direction again, you should be able to watch them along the Beach Drive shoreline for a while. Visible without binoculars – look for the blows and the small research boat!

2:24 PM: They’re heading north fairly quickly, and now out of Emma Schmitz range, so if you’re still heading out, try Constellation Park south of Alki Point. What we’ve been watching is a group of eight or so traveling very close together.

2:36 PM: We’ve had to head back inland but a texter says they’re now visible from Weather Watch Park (Beach Drive & Carroll).

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West Seattle whale watching: Orcas swimming past us again http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-orcas-spotted-this-morning/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-orcas-spotted-this-morning/#comments Tue, 10 Nov 2015 17:00:25 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=328713 9 AM: As mentioned in our traffic/transit roundup – since the report was from a ferry – orcas are back in the area this morning. Just after 8 am, commenting on one of our stories from last week, Michele reported, “A big pod of killer whales just showed off for the passengers on the 7:50 ferry to Southworth! Huge pod going south!” She didn’t report which side of Vashon they were passing – which would make a difference for visibility from here – but Orca Network regulars say it’s the east side, so they might still be visible from south West Seattle, and of course they’ll have to head back this way eventually. Updates appreciated if you see them! (You can also text our 24/7 hotline, 206-293-6302.) *Just as we were publishing this, we also heard from Donna Sandstrom of The Whale Trail, who reports researcher Mark Sears confirmed they’re southbound off north Vashon.*

1:30 PM: Per commenters and text, they’re now passing Fauntleroy, northbound.

2 PM: We and quite a few others are along Emma Schmitz, hoping to see them soon. One request, if you’re in a car and happen to see this … please don’t idle.

2:13 PM: Saw them! They are off Emma Schmitz, midchannel. Look for the blows, and the small research boat. Visible WITHOUT binoculars! We’ve opened a new story here.

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West Seattle whale watching: Orcas in the area again http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-orcas-in-the-area-again-2/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-orcas-in-the-area-again-2/#comments Sun, 08 Nov 2015 17:13:20 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=328539 9:13 AM: Missed your chance to go look for orcas during their recent weekday visits? Maybe today is your day. Jeff Hogan from Killer Whale Tales just texted to share a report of orcas seen in the Vashon ferry lanes. No initial word of their direction. Take your binoculars; most of the time they’re closer to the Vashon side than the West Seattle side. More when we hear it.

10:15 AM: No further reports – and the murky weather is a complication – but if they’re in the general area, they might switch directions, so you never know where/when they will turn up. Please comment if you see them – thank you.

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West Seattle whale watching: Another orca visit http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-another-orca-visit/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-another-orca-visit/#comments Fri, 06 Nov 2015 17:40:24 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=328345 Via Twitter, Vanessa reports the orcas are back again today. She’s seeing them southbound off Beach Drive, just south of Constellation Park. That’s the third time this week!

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West Seattle whale watching: Orcas back today; humpback nearby http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-orcas-back-today-humpback-nearby/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-orcas-back-today-humpback-nearby/#comments Thu, 05 Nov 2015 16:16:31 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=328220

(Photo added: Northbound orcas, photographed from Alki Point by Guy Smith)

ORIGINAL REPORT, 8:16 AM: Two whale-watching notes: First, multiple reports this morning of orcas back in the area – seen off Beach Drive, and from the Vashon Island ferry run, headed southbound.

8:47 AM UPDATE: Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail just called – now the orcas are headed NORTH from the ferry lane – watch from Emma Schmitz Viewpoint soon.

9:06 AM: Jeff Hogan from Killer Whale Tales texted with news they’re off Lincoln Park right now.

9:46 AM: Via Twitter, MetPatrick reports they’re now off Constellation Park (Beach Drive, south of Alki Point).

1:27 PM: Adding two more photos, from Vicky Piston on Alki:

In comments, Donna from TWT says they disappeared from view here about two hours ago. But this is the season – keep watch and let us know (206-293-6302, text or voice, any time) if and when you see them!

(back to original report) Second, humpbacks have been in the area a while, and West Seattleite Dennis Hinton shares the photo of a sighting off the south end of Blake Island on Wednesday:

He says he was fishing off Southworth in the morning when he thought he saw a humpback – then the captain confirmed the ID as seen from a ferry headed back this way in the afternoon.

NOT SURE WHAT KIND OF WHALE YOU SAW? Check the species-ID info on The Whale Trail‘s website.

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West Seattle whale watching: Orcas seen from our shores http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-orcas-headed-this-way-again/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/west-seattle-whale-watching-orcas-headed-this-way-again/#comments Tue, 03 Nov 2015 18:05:37 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=328000

(Added 2:36 pm, photos by Gary Jones @ Alki Point)

ORIGINAL REPORT, 10:05 AM: Once again this morning, heads-up that orcas might be passing our shores soon. They didn’t make it this far south on Monday but they apparently did some traveling overnight, because Orca Network commenters (thanks again to Trileigh for the tip) are seeing them off Burien’s Three Tree Point – northbound this time – as of just before 10 am.

10:57 AM: Per Jen‘s comment, and also what we’re seeing from Orca Network commenters, they’re still headed northbound along Vashon; Jen notes that they are closer to the Vashon side, so if you’re looking from here, you’ll most likely need binoculars.

NOON: They are visible off north Vashon! We are now with Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail at Constellation Park.

12:30 PM: One group is past north Blake Island now; another one is off north Vashon. Still visible with binoculars. Donna says they’ve been confirmed as Southern Resident Killer Whales (the ones seen in the area earlier in the year were “transients” – one big difference is that SRKWs eat salmon, transients also eat marine mammals).

12:48 PM: We’ve left Constellation Park but Donna just called to say researcher Mark Sears, who is out with the whales, reports that one group is “headed right for Alki.”

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Early alert: Orcas headed in this direction, southbound http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/early-alert-orcas-headed-in-this-direction-southbound/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/11/early-alert-orcas-headed-in-this-direction-southbound/#comments Mon, 02 Nov 2015 19:36:14 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=327935 11:36 AM: Thanks to Trileigh for the tip: Whale watchers commenting on the Orca Network Facebook page have been tracking whales heading in this general direction all morning, southbound, including sightings from Golden Gardens (Ballard) within the past hour. So this is your early alert. Please let us know if and when you see any from West Seattle – texting 206-293-6302 is the best way to reach us immediately – so we can update. Thanks!

2:55 PM: Haven’t heard of any sightings here, and it seems they might not have made it this far south before heading back north, according to the ON FB thread.

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Seen off West Seattle: NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown visiting after Arctic Ocean research http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/seen-off-west-seattle-noaa-ship-ronald-h-brown-visiting-after-arctic-ocean-research/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/seen-off-west-seattle-noaa-ship-ronald-h-brown-visiting-after-arctic-ocean-research/#comments Sat, 31 Oct 2015 05:37:25 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=327636

Thanks to Gary Jones for sharing his photo from Alki Point. The newest notable sighting at sea off West Seattle is NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown (R-104), the federal agency’s largest ship at 274 feet. It’s docked on the Duwamish River tonight, as shown on MarineTraffic.com; the latest fleet report from NOAA says the ship arrived from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, after studying “bioeffects of the Chukchi Sea,” described further:

Assess habitat conditions that influence biodiversity and distribution of benthic infaunal communities, contaminants, and chemical body burdens of resident organisms as measures of environmental health in the bays and lagoons in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in the vicinity of proposed oil transport pipelines. Baseline data will be essential for monitoring pollution control effectiveness and National Resource Damage Assessment activities in the event of a spill.

The Chukchi Sea is where Shell had drilled before announcing earlier this fall that it would end its Arctic Ocean exploration TFN. The Ronald H. Brown is homeported in Charleston, South Carolina; no word how long it’ll be here.

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Submarine seen off West Seattle: USS Albuquerque’s final voyage http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/submarine-seen-off-west-seattle-uss-albuquerques-final-voyage/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/submarine-seen-off-west-seattle-uss-albuquerques-final-voyage/#comments Thu, 29 Oct 2015 07:52:47 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=327467

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda R. Gray)

With U.S. Navy facilities relatively close by, submarine sightings happen here now and then. Robert reported this one on Wednesday – and later shared the link through which we obtained the photo and the backstory: After 32 years and a half-million miles of service, the fast-attack submarine USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) passed by on its way to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton to “commence its inactivation process,” says the Navy. Its last voyage followed an inactivation ceremony in San Diego a week earlier; the nuclear-powered submarine’s inactivation also drew a tribute in its namesake city. The process of “inactivating” a nuclear submarine is explained by the Kitsap Sun, which says this one joins about a dozen others awaiting dismantling, at a cost of at least $25 million each.

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UPDATE: Air/sea search off south Bainbridge Island, seen/heard from West Seattle http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/in-case-you-wondered-airsea-search-off-south-bainbridge-island/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/in-case-you-wondered-airsea-search-off-south-bainbridge-island/#comments Tue, 27 Oct 2015 05:08:52 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=327249 10:08 PM: We’ve had a few questions about what appears to be a search off Alki Point. The US Coast Guard has tweeted that there’s a search for someone in the water in Rich Passage, off south Bainbridge. (added) According to a USCG news release (read it here in full), a 54-year-old Bainbridge Island man is missing after his 15-foot fishing boat turned up empty and adrift more than three hours ago. He apparently had launched from the Port Orchard Marina.

9:46 AM TUESDAY: The search was reported to still be under way as of early this morning.

10:16 PM TUESDAY: As noted in comments, the USCG says it searched far and wide but finally had to suspend the search at 1:43 pm today.

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Another baby orca for Puget Sound’s Southern Resident Killer Whales – sixth in less than a year http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/another-baby-for-puget-sounds-southern-resident-killer-whales-sixth-in-less-than-a-year/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/another-baby-for-puget-sounds-southern-resident-killer-whales-sixth-in-less-than-a-year/#comments Sun, 25 Oct 2015 03:42:26 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=327037

Just last Wednesday, it was announced that the federal drone survey of Puget Sound’s Southern Resident Killer Whales suggested more orca babies were on the way. And tonight, the Center for Whale Research shared news of one! This is the sixth orca calf reported in the three resident pods – J, K, and L – in less than a year, dating back to last December. As you can see in the Instagram post embedded above, they’re promising more info soon.

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UPDATE: Search off Alki Point suspended; no one missing from ferry M/V Puyallup http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/state-ferry-puyallup-involved-in-searchrescue-off-alki-point/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/state-ferry-puyallup-involved-in-searchrescue-off-alki-point/#comments Thu, 22 Oct 2015 00:44:13 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=326720

5:44 PM: Thanks for the texts. The state ferry M/V Puyallup has been involved in what Washington State Ferries describes as a “search/rescue” situation off Alki Point. The U.S. Coast Guard says someone might have gone overboard and it’s helping search. The Puyallup’s one of the biggest ferries in the system and serves the Seattle-Bainbridge run.

6:05 PM: The Puyallup is continuing to sail slowly off Alki, changing directions periodically – it’s currently heading westward again, according to VesselWatch. Our crew sees the USCG helicopter circling, too.

6:31 PM: The Puyallup finally went on to Bainbridge Island. One person on board tweets that what/who they were looking for might just have been “a seal.”

10:10 PM: The USCG says the search was officially suspended before 8 pm after Puyallup’s captain confirmed no one was missing.

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More orca babies on the way? NOAA says drone survey of Southern Resident Killer Whales brings ‘hope for the population’ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/more-orca-babies-on-the-way-noaa-says-drone-survey-of-southern-resident-killer-whales-brings-hope-for-the-population/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/more-orca-babies-on-the-way-noaa-says-drone-survey-of-southern-resident-killer-whales-brings-hope-for-the-population/#comments Wed, 21 Oct 2015 16:25:13 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=326671

(Photo courtesy NOAA Fisheries, Vancouver Aquarium, “taken by UAV from above 90 feet under NMFS research permit and FAA flight authorization.” Mother ID’d as J16 with calf J50)

New information today about Puget Sound’s endangered orcas – thanks to an aerial study done via drone – and NOAA says, among other things, what they found brings “hope for the population.” Here’s the news release we received this morning:

A NOAA Fisheries research team flying a remotely operated hexacopter in Washington’s San Juan Islands in September collected high-resolution aerial photogrammetry images of all 81 Southern Resident killer whales that showed the endangered whales in robust condition and that several appear to be pregnant.

Photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs and has proven to be a powerful method for understanding the health of whales and other wildlife. Researchers can readily identify individual killer whales from the distinctive shape of their dorsal fin and saddle patch from the air or water, allowing them to track the condition of individual whales over time. Following analysis, individual growth and body condition from this year will be compared to previous photogrammetric assessments in 2008 and 2013 to assess changes.

The thousands of photogrammetry images collected to date provide important baseline information about the condition of the whales as a warm El Nino climate pattern takes hold along the West Coast following more than a year of already unusually warm ocean temperatures. El Nino and warm ocean conditions have in the past led to declines in salmon, the favored food of Southern Residents.

“Most individuals appear to be fairly robust this year, which is good news, but it’s also very important baseline information to have if the next few years turn out to be difficult for salmon and their predators,” said biologist John Durban of NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center, who piloted the hexacopter on 115 flights totaling about 23 hours over the Southern Resident killer whales.

The flights were part of a joint photogrammetry project conducted by the Southwest Fisheries Science Center and the Vancouver Aquarium to collect high-resolution images of both Southern Resident killer whales and neighboring Northern Resident killer whales around Vancouver Island.

“We have typically counted births and deaths to assess population status, but photogrammetry gives us a new tool to better assess the whales’ condition between years and to look for changes over the course of the year,” said Lynne Barre, branch chief for protected resources in NOAA Fisheries’ Seattle office.

Highlights of the September flights included:
*High resolution aerial photographs of all 81 individuals in the Southern Resident population.
*New photographs of the latest calf (L122) taken just days after its birth, and its mother (L91) just before and following birth. The team also captured vivid photographs of several calves nursing.
*Initial analysis suggests most whales appeared to be in robust condition and several females in the population may be pregnant; further analysis is underway to confirm this. The fate of the calves will shed light on the reproductive success of the population.

Scientists previously collected photogrammetry images in 2008 and 2013 using helicopters, which flew at 750 to 1,000 feet compared to the hexacopter that flies at 100 to 120 feet. The hexacopter weighs about 4.5 pounds, with a roughly 30-inch wingspan, and carries a special camera system designed at the SWFSC. The small, quiet aircraft allows researchers to collect high-resolution images at a much lower altitude without disturbing the whales.

Photogrammetry efforts in 2008 and 2013 documented a decline in the overall body condition of the Southern Resident killer whales, as well as the apparent loss of calves by some pregnant females.

Initial examination of this year’s data suggests improved condition for some whales, offering hope for the population. Researchers plan to use photogrammetry to monitor the condition of Southern Resident killer whales again next year and in different seasons to determine whether they face shortages of salmon prey at certain times of the year. Seasonal photogrammetry data will help NOAA Fisheries prioritize salmon recovery actions to improve salmon numbers at the times of year when the whales may be food-limited, Barre said.

A 2014 NOAA Fisheries Special Report on Southern Resident killer whales identified limited prey availability as one of three main threats to the whales, in addition to chemical contaminants and vessel traffic and noise.

All flights over whales were conducted under permit from NOAA Fisheries with air space clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration.

NOAA has more info and photos here.

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You won’t see Shell’s Polar Pioneer back at Terminal 5, per regional reports http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/you-wont-see-shells-polar-pioneer-back-at-terminal-5-per-port-angeles-dutch-harbor-reports/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/you-wont-see-shells-polar-pioneer-back-at-terminal-5-per-port-angeles-dutch-harbor-reports/#comments Tue, 13 Oct 2015 08:54:29 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=325815

(May 15th photo of Polar Pioneer at T-5, by Long Bach Nguyen)
1:54 AM: Since Shell‘s announcement two weeks ago that it was shelving Arctic offshore drilling TFN, we’ve been awaiting word on where its rigs would wind up – whether there was any chance, for example, the Polar Pioneer would come back to West Seattle’s Terminal 5, where it spent a month before heading off to drill. You’ll recall that the T-5 interim tenant, Foss Maritime, said at the time that it was too soon to say.

According to new reports in two publications, both quoting Shell, the answer is “no.”

Both KUCB in Unalaska and the Peninsula Daily News in Port Angeles say the Polar Pioneer will head back to PA. KUCB reports that both the PP and Shell’s other rig, the Noble Discoverer, arrived Sunday in Unalaska’s Dutch Harbor. According to KUCB, the ND didn’t stay long, heading out on Monday, bound for Everett, where it was docked until heading north for Shell’s short-lived drilling effort. The PDN reports Shell isn’t saying when the Polar Pioneer is due back in those waters, where it spent four weeks before coming to T-5 for a similar stay. And we don’t know if any of the support vessels might return to T-5; the one that seemed to spend the most time there, Aiviq, is currently Everett-bound, according to MarineTraffic.com.

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