(Photo copyright Evgeniya Lazareva, Far East Russia Orca Project [FEROP, WDC])
One more talk is set for The Whale Trail‘s series, announced today by TWT’s Donna Sandstrom: “Adventures with Orcas in the North Pacific, From A1 Stubbs to Iceberg, the White Russian Bull,” featuring author/researcher Erich Hoyt. Big topic, and a bigger venue – after filling C & P Coffee (WSB sponsor) for each of the four previous talks, this time it’ll be at The Hall at Fauntleroy, and instead of on a weeknight, it’s on a Saturday night, June 8th (7-9 pm). Tickets are available now! Read on for the full announcement:
From wildlife writer/photographer Trileigh Tucker, the tale of a baby bird’s rescue – and what to do if you see one in trouble:
A West Seattle neighbor was a real wildlife hero this afternoon.
From my house, I heard an unusually loud Steller’s Jay cacophony in the park, but figured it might just be a bunch of nestlings calling to Mom and Dad for dinner. Shortly after that I heard a bunch of crows shrieking up a storm, and finally realized I should probably go check it out. I should have done this right away.
Several people were standing around a baby Steller’s Jay that had been harassed out of its nest by crows, who were apparently harassing and poking at it on the ground until Guardian Angel #1 stepped in to disperse them. Guardian Angels #2 and #3 were staying with the little bird – at first they thought it was dead, but then saw it was breathing. I picked it up and it held on tightly to my finger, so I knew it might be OK. We looked up in the nearby trees for the nest, hoping to put it back, but couldn’t find it. The parent jays were nearby but didn’t seem to be at their nest.
We put him in a box, then called PAWS in Lynnwood, who said to bring it up there for rehabilitation. So Guardian Angel #2, whose name is Marjorie Severson [photo above right], a generous and kind West Seattleite who volunteered to drive the little baby jay all the way up to Lynnwood for PAWS to help him out! I’m attaching her photo with the baby bird. She truly is an angel helping out the forest creatures.
This is fledging season, when a lot of baby birds risk injury or shock. If people find a baby bird on the ground but alive, the thing to do is to put it in a dark quiet box (with gaps so it can breathe), then call PAWS: 425-412-4040. This is their wildlife number, open 8-8 seven days a week, and they’ll tell you what to do. Everyone, put this number in your cellphones!
The image is courtesy of Seal Sitters‘ Robin Lindsey, who has an update on the sculpture in the works for their “Year of the Seal” project (first announced in January) – and your chance to come to a meeting about it on May 13th:
Seal Sitters’ educational outreach project Year of the Seal, made possible by a Seattle Department of Neighborhoods grant, is making great strides. Following a public Call to Artists and Selection Panel review, prominent Northwest bronze artist Georgia Gerber was chosen to create a full-scale sculpture of a harbor seal mom and pup. Georgia is shown here at work on the centerpiece of the project, which is designed to raise awareness about our fragile marine ecosystem.
8:39 PM ‘HAPPENING NOW’ REPORT: It’s one of those nights when The Whale Trail turns inland – to C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) for the ongoing series of presentations about whales and other marine life. Thanks to “Diver Laura” James for sharing photos again – here’s tonight’s featured presenter, Uko Gorter, talking about “Orcas of the World“:
Big crowd again:
Watch The Whale Trail’s website for news of the next event!
ADDED FRIDAY MORNING: Thanks to Laura for also sharing video, if you couldn’t get there last night:
West Seattle coyotes – and other urban wildlife – on Highland Park Action Committee agenda Wednesday nightApril 23, 2013 at 6:19 pm | In Coyotes, Highland Park, West Seattle news, Wildlife | 12 Comments
(Video sent by Bob Mohr, recorded by son Jack, in Genesee Hill around sunset Monday, between 55th/54th/Genesee/Dakota)
While that short clip of a coyote on the run in a West Seattle neighborhood – watch the sidewalk at :25 and :40 – isn’t from Highland Park, that neighborhood’s plan to talk about coyotes and other urban wildlife tomorrow night would seem to be of interest to all. A federal wildlife biologist is on the Highland Park Action Committee‘s agenda, 7 pm Wednesday at HP Improvement Club (12th/Holden), and all are welcome. Also on the agenda: The proposed Duwamish River cleanup plan, and why, with a month left for public comment, it should matter to you.
(Honey-bee swarm photographed in Genesee last year by Ute Herzel-Harding)
On this Earth Day, here’s a simple way to take action – save this information about what to do if you encounter a honey-bee swarm. Don’t panic – don’t be afraid – do report them to beekeepers who can give them a new home, which is what some bees are looking for at this time of year. Here’s expert advice from Puget Sound Beekeepers Association president Krista Conner, who happens to be a West Seattleite:
Puget Sound Beekeepers Association wants you to be prepared to help the bees!
With recent losses of bee populations worldwide, seeing a few bees around the garden is something to celebrate. But what do you do when a few thousand bees show up?
Most swarms are the size of a football, more or less.
Longer days bring a surge of blooming trees and flowers which create a short window of time for healthy honey bee colonies to split and create new colonies. This split happens when honey bees swarm: roughly 10-15 thousand bees and their queen will leave an existing colony and land upon a tree branch or side of building. Once there, this mass of bees can resemble a very large pine cone or football shaped mass. Swarming is the natural process that honey bee hives go through to create new colonies and spread their genetics to new locations.
Honey bee swarms are vulnerable outside the hive to weather, animals and more importantly people. They need to find a new home quickly. In a rural setting this is usually a hollow tree but in the city with loss of habitat this can take the form of a wall or attic of a house where they become a problem for homeowners.
If you encounter a swarm it is important to remain calm and to call a beekeeper quickly before the bees leave to a new home or take up residence in an undesirable location. It is important to not kill or disturb the honey bees by spraying pesticides or even water on them.
Puget Sound Beekeepers Association offers the community a “swarm list” – a list of beekeepers who are willing to collect swarms. The swarm list should be your first resource to manage a honey bee swarm. Swarm collection usually is provided for free if the bees are within easy reach and are not inside a wall or house. Follow the directions on the list for confirming help is on the way. While you wait for the beekeeper, the best thing you can do is get your camera ready and make sure people stay 10-15 feet away from the swarm.
When a beekeeper arrives they will remove the swarm by transferring them into a hive box. Bees in a swarm are less likely to sting because they have nothing to defend and are gorged with honey so they have energy to build a new colony. The beekeeper may work bare-handed or in a full suit to transfer the football sized swarm of bees into a hive with a shake of a branch or by the handful if they are on a wall. Once the majority of the bees are in the hive the beekeeper will wait for any stray bees to find their way into the hive box before closing the hive up to take to their new home.
Here and anywhere in the greater Seattle area, please refer to the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association swarm list to find a swarm-catching beekeeper: pugetsoundbees.org/psba-swarm-list
Thanks for helping the bees!
Puget Sound Beekeepers Association
More than half a million classrooms around the country are reading about West Seattle’s seal pups and young Seal Sitters volunteers who help watch out for them. They’re the cover story of the Earth Day edition of Scholastic News, as Seal Sitters‘ Robin Lindsey reports on Blubberblog. As she points out, Seal Sitters is “one of the few marine-mammal stranding networks that encourage children to join …”; a third-grader volunteer named Noemi is shown in the Scholastic News story. Robin tells WSB, “Noemi and our kid Seal Sitters inspire us all!” (To find out how to volunteer – and how to reach Seal Sitters if you spot a marine mammal on a local beach – go here.)
Our local orcas have cousins all over the world! Find out about them during the fourth event in The Whale Trail‘s series of presentations: “Uko Gorter: Orcas of the World – An overview of the diversity of Orcinus orca.” It’s one week from tonight, according to the official announcement:
Orcas (killer whales) are one of the most widespread mammals in the world. Like humans, they exhibit unique cultural and even morphological differences.
Join us for this presentation by scientific illustrator Uko Gorter (also the president of the American Cetacean Society’s Puget Sound chapter), who will discuss the diversity of orcas around the globe. Spectacular photos highlight the subtle (and not so subtle) difference in appearance, unique behavior, and prey preferences between the many orca populations. Some differences are so great, they may lead to a taxonomic revisions and determination of new species and/or subspecies of orca. Uko will also discuss his collaboration with with biologists Bob Pitman, John Durban, and Andy Foote to create a poster of orca ecotypes and forms.
Where: C & P Coffee Company, 5621 California SW
When: Thursday April 25, 7 – 9 (doors open 6:30)
Cost: $5 suggested donation, kids free.
–Tickets available at brownpapertickets.com
Buy tickets early and we will save you a seat! The event also features updates from Robin Lindsey (Seal Sitters), and “Diver Laura” James (tox-ick.org and Puget Soundkeeper Alliance), and photography and art from Judy Lane and Mike Russell.
(Photos by Nick Adams for WSB)
9:59 PM: Call it “moving day.” Or – night. At Burien’s Seahurst Park, the partial fin-whale carcass that washed up on Saturday is to be moved tonight.
WSB contributing photojournalist Nick Adams was there throughout the day as it was prepared for the move.
We’ll add more of Nick’s photos later tonight, as well as an update on tonight’s planned move.
11:23 PM UPDATE: Robin Lindsey from West Seattle-based Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network tells WSB, “I just heard from NOAA and the whale is officially off the beach and the tow is underway…
“A good day today with a lot of education on the beach in a team effort. … The whale is being taken to a remote location for natural decomposition and collection of the skull at a later date for educational and research purposes.” Watch for a post on the SS site tomorrow.
10:21 AM WEDNESDAY: The city of Burien, whose park system includes Seahurst, says the removal operation cost it $3,100. Meantime, the aforementioned post by Robin is up; she writes that the whale’s remains are now at the location where they’ll decompose naturally.
With everything else that’s been happening today, the saga of the dead fin whale at Seahurst Park slid out of the spotlight, but we do have two updates tonight: First, its resting place on the beach has finally been cordoned off to end the spate of illegal touching – thanks to “Diver Laura” James for allowing us to share her photo. Second, authorities are facing extra logistical challenges in trying to remove it, including those posed by what the whale’s carcass is missing - Robin Lindsey from Seal Sitters has been talking with federal and local officials and has an update online here. If you missed the previous coverage, the whale – missing about half of its body, not all lengthwise, so it’s still more than 50 feet long – washed up at Seahurst this past Saturday morning; researchers believe it was hit by a ship, but that might have happened many miles away.
(Photos by Nick Adams for WSB)
There may be a decision today on what will, or won’t, be done with the dead fin whale (an endangered species) that has drawn hundreds to the shore of Burien’s Seahurst Park the past two days. WSB contributing photojournalist Nick Adams returned to the beach on Sunday and shows us a scene of tributes and mourning as well as curiosity. Among those bringing flowers, 7-year-old Faith Hunter:
There was also the smelly reality of a multi-ton carcass, as Lucas Brooks noticed:
Some simply stood quietly to observe, and pay respects:
Fishing buddies Kyle Thope, right, and Corey Wiggins took a closeup look:
Ruby Rose (photo below) said she was gleaning information from the whale.
She told Nick, “I can receive information through my heart and my hands, and sometimes my third eye. … Whales are living libraries downloading information to me.” Others learned from the scene in a more conventional manner – Steve Knapp was there with his 7-year-old daughter Sera:
(Saturday photos by Nick Adams for WSB, unless otherwise credited)
Dead or alive, an endangered fin whale is a rare sight in Puget Sound. So the one that turned up dead at Seahurst Park in Burien on Saturday (here’s our previous report) was something Jesavel Garcia said she would tell her grandchildren about – the reason why she took a self-portrait with the whale in the background. She had company:
And for researchers, it was quite a sight as well:
Up close, you could see its baleen:
(Photo by David Hutchinson)
That photo is courtesy of David Hutchinson, who was one of the volunteers from West Seattle-based Seal Sitters who went to the scene; Robin Lindsey has written about it on the group’s Blubberblog site. More photos and information ahead – including troubled waters for funding of response and research in cases like this:
(Photos courtesy Isa Sorensen)
Since we report so often about marine mammals here on WSB, we’re mentioning this even though it’s south of our coverage area, after getting a call from someone who wanted to make sure we knew about it: A fin whale has washed up on the beach at Seahurst Park in Burien; KIRO TV quotes experts as saying they believe it died after being hit by a vessel. Isa Sorensen gave us permission to share some of his photos.
Coincidentally, tomorrow will mark exactly three years to the day since a gray whale stranded and died off southwesternmost West Seattle, in The Arroyos. That’s less than four miles from Seahurst, if you were going by water. KIRO says Cascadia Research Collective will do the necropsy; it has researched other such cases in years past (including one in Tacoma in 2009). Fin whales, by the way, are rare in Puget Sound – so rare, they’re not even on The Whale Trail’s list of commonly sighted species;
(Photo by Robin Lindsey)
It’s a beautiful day on the water and a beautiful day for wildlife watching – if you keep your distance, and that’s a required-by-law 100 yards. Robin Lindsey from Seal Sitters shared the photo and asked us to help get that reminder out – please don’t get so close to those sea-lion-laden buoys on the bay:
It was like a flotilla out there yesterday and lots of watercraft around them today, too. While it is tempting to get closer, people need to remember that all marine mammals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Sea lions and seals need to rest and regulate their body temperature. That is exactly what a huge Steller sea lion bull and a jostling gang of sea lions, mostly male California sea lions, are doing on the buoys. Our Eastern stock of Stellers are considered “threatened,” while the Western stock that lives in Alaska and Russian waters is indeed “endangered.”
Watercraft violating this federal law are being photographed and the images are being sent to NOAA’s Office for Law Enforcement. A Steller bull is a huge animal, weighing up to a ton, and if provoked could leap off and injure someone. It is only common sense that a kayaker not get within feet of the buoy as they were doing yesterday. Alki Kayak Tours is doing a great job of informing their renters to steer clear of the buoy, but others may not be aware that getting too close not only causes undue stress on the animals, but is a violation of the MMPA and punishable by fine.
We want people to get out on the water and enjoy wildlife – from a respectful distance.
Want to know more about marine mammals? Here’s the Seal Sitters’ resource-links page.
Thanks to “Diver Laura” James for sharing video of researcher John Calambokidis‘s harbor-porpoises presentation from the latest in The Whale Trail‘s series of talks, this past Thursday night at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor). Another good turnout – click the image to see a larger version of this panorama:
This was the third in TWT’s new series of events, also featuring other local advocates (such as Laura, for tox-ick.org and Puget SoundKeeper Alliance, and Seal Sitters – whose David Hutchinson is in the panorama, standing by a camera, of course). We’re checking with TWT’s Donna Sandstrom to see what’s next on the schedule; you can also watch the Whale Trail calendar for future additions.
(Photo courtesy John Calambokidis)
Your next chance to join The Whale Trail and friends in learning about local marine life is one week from tonight. From TWT’s Donna Sandstrom:
Harbor porpoises were once commonly seen throughout the Salish Sea. After falling to record lows, sightings are on the increase. Is the population coming back? Scientists recently gathered to discuss what we know – and don’t know – about these elusive animals. What is their range? What do they eat? Like their cousins the orcas, harbor porpoise are an indicator species for the health of Puget Sound. How are they doing?
Join us for on March 28 at C & P Coffee for the next Orca Talk, featuring John Calambokidis, founder and director of Cascadia Research. John and his colleague Jessie Huggins are leaders in the transboundary effort to assess and monitor the health of the harbor porpoise population in the Salish Sea. John is a renowned biologist who directs long-term research on the status, movements, and underwater behavior of blue, humpback, and gray whales. In 2010, John conducted the necropsy on the gray whale that stranded on Arroyo Beach in West Seattle.
The event is scheduled 6:30-9 pm, $5 suggested donation, tickets available at brownpapertickets.com. Along with the guest speaker and The Whale Trail, Donna adds, “The event also features updates from Robin Lindsey (Seal Sitters), and ‘Diver Laura’ James (tox-ick.org and Puget Soundkeeper Alliance), and photography and art from Judy Lane and Mike Russell.”
From Robin Lindsey at Seal Sitters:
We have a little seal pup who is on the move in West Seattle and hope that the community will be on the lookout for her. She is nicknamed Shamrock and first came ashore on St. Patrick’s Day at Jack Block Park. Monday she was in two locations and Tuesday was further around the peninsula at Emma Schmitz Viewpoint (see photo). Shamrock appeared thinner (Tuesday) and we encourage waterfront owners to please give our hotline a call @ 206-905-7325 (SEAL) if you have a pup on your beach. She may well end up at Lowman Beach or Lincoln Park over the next day or so. (More on Blubberblog.)
Meantime, “Rehab Ruby” is still enjoying the safe haven of Jack Block Park – a truly great story that shows how caring our West Seattle residents are. She seems to have found a new friend, so we are encouraged that she has learned to socialize and integrate with other seals. You can read about Ruby here.
Shamrock’s visit to Emma Schmitz Viewpoint is also featured on Beach Drive Blog.
If you are, or know, a sculpture artist interested in the following project, Seal Sitters is looking for you:
Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network is seeking a sculpture artist for our educational outreach project, The Year of the Seal. The project will culminate with the installation of a largely realistic bronze work depicting a harbor seal mom and pup. Harbor seals are considered by biologists to be an indicator species for the health of our waters. The sculpture will raise awareness of our fragile marine ecosystem and all marine life that calls Puget Sound home. The artwork, which will reside at West Seattle’s high-visibility Alki Beach, is funded by a grant from Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods.
Artists from the Pacific Northwest are invited to submit a Statement of Qualifications. Submission deadline is March 22, 2013, and selected artist will be notified on March 26, 2013. The target date for installation is late August with a dedication ceremony on September 7th. Artists must have a proven track record of public art installations.
Download the RFQ (by going here).
And you’ll find more information about the Year of the Seal project here.
(Seal Sitters photo by Robin Lindsey)
You’ve probably seen the familiar yellow tape and traffic cones on the shore, marking the perimeter around a resting seal or sea lion, with at least As Seal Sitters‘ Robin Lindsey mentioned at The Whale Trail‘s orca (and more) talk this past Thursday, the next volunteer-training session is scheduled for March 9th, and you are invited to RSVP ASAP if you are interested. One particular point of interest from Robin:
Unlike most marine mammal stranding networks, Seal Sitters encourages children to participate. It is very empowering for a child to learn about our fragile ecosystem and be able to do something to protect seals and other marine mammals.
The e-mail link for RSVPs is in this announcement on the Seal Sitters’ site, which also includes location/time details.
(Video and photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
The Whale Trail drew another full house at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) Thursday night – our video above shows the hour-and-a-half “Orca Talk 2″ in its entirety. Lynn Barre from NOAA was the spotlighted speaker, with an overview of how the Southern Resident Killer Whales (aka our local orcas) are doing, following the all-star lineup of TWT leader Donna Sandstrom, Seal Sitters‘ Robin Lindsey (who talked about their upcoming volunteer training – we’ll have a separate report on that later today), and “Diver Laura” James on behalf of the Tox-Ick.org anti-toxic-runoff campaign. Joining the lineup this time (but not speaking, so he’s not in our video), photographer Mike Russell:
Also on hand – bags of Whale Tails tortilla chips, which, as you’ll hear Donna mention in the video, is the first “sustaining corporate sponsor” for The Whale Trail, donating six percent of all their Oregon and Washington sales after connecting with TWT through what she described as “the power of the pod” (in this case, “pod” of human supporters):
You can buy the chips here in West Seattle at Husky Deli – the first store in our state to carry them. Donna also announced TWT has four more signs in the works – at Point Roberts along the U.S./Canada border, Lime Kiln Park on San Juan Island, Olympia, and a Kitsap County site. Meantime, watch for word of the third Orca Talk, date TBA, likely late March.
(October 2012 photo by Nick Adams for WSB; click image for larger view)
Last month, the first talk in a new series presented by The Whale Trail drew a full house to C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor). The next talk is just five days away – Thursday (February 21) – and tickets are still available, reports TWT’s Donna Sandstrom with this reminder:
It has been almost 8 years since the Southern Resident Killer Whales (J, K and L pods) were listed as endangered. How are they doing? What progress has been made towards their recovery? What can we do to help?
Join us for this informal and informative talk featuring Lynne Barre, NOAA Fisheries. Learn what NOAA and its partners are doing to conserve and protect these iconic and beloved whales, including current research findings, management approaches and population updates.
Lynne is the Branch Chief in the Protected Resources Division at NOAA. She worked on the endangered listing of the Southern Residents, designated critical habitat, and developed and finalized the SRKW Recovery Plan.
As part of the recovery program, Lynne developed an oil-spill-response plan and protective regulations for killer whales in Washington. She works closely with partner organizations, including The Whale Trail, to implement the recovery plan. Lynne also works on the newly listed rockfish species and coordinates with Puget Sound salmon recovery.
This is the second in an “Orca Talk” series, hosted by The Whale Trail at C&P, 5621 California SW. Cost: $5 suggested donation, kids free. Advance tickets available at brownpapertickets.com/event/337516. Buy tickets now – see you there!
Questions – or, interested in volunteering? Here’s how to reach Donna: email@example.com or 206.919.5397.
(Example of “sailing” sea lion; photo by Robin Lindsey)
6:26 PM: No, it was NOT related to the search for the Belvidere estate-sale robber – there was a short-lived report of a possible dead whale off Constellation Park. Turned out to be a resting sea lion, per what Robin Lindsey from Seal Sitters told us and others at the scene a little while ago – but not before at least one TV chopper detoured over there to take a look.
P.S. The sea lion was “sailing,” Robin explained – behavior that has previously sparked erroneous reports of a marine mammal in trouble; here’s a 2010 report on Blubberblog that explains sailing, including a photo.
ADDED 8:49 PM: Robin has since provided a photo for us to use – added above – and has also updated the Seal Sitters’ website with an account of what happened tonight, plus the basics on “sailing.”
Two updates from West Seattle-based Seal Sitters this weekend – first:
(Photo by Robin Lindsey)
That’s Ruby, a visitor who had already been through a lot before turning up here, as Robin Lindsey explains:
On Tuesday morning, Seal Sitters’ hotline received an anxious call about a seal pup at the little cove just north of Salty’s. The woman was afraid off-leash dogs would scare the pup back into the water. When we arrived minutes later and taped off a perimeter, we noticed a red tag partially obscured on the pup’s rear flipper. This type of tag indicates an animal that has gone through rehab. The pup, nicknamed Ruby, was a victim of human harassment on a beach in Steilacoom in July. Among other things, Ruby had been poked with sticks over the course of the few days she tried to rest on the beach. Other, more well-intentioned souls poured water over her. The week or so old pup was taken to PAWS for a long rehab and released on McNeil Island on October 2nd.
We are thrilled that Ruby is in our area under the protective watch of our volunteers and the West Seattle community. We feel confident that she will be infinitely safer on our turf. Ruby has been sighted the past three days fishing at Jack Block Park, her red tag visible as she swims in the shallows. We will be posting regular “pupdates” of Ruby sightings on blubberblog.
Should anyone see Ruby (or any other marine mammal onshore), please call our hotline immediately at 206-905-7325 (SEAL).
Robin has already posted about Ruby twice on Seal Sitters’ “Blubberblog” – see both updates here.
Second – you might have heard a regional-media report last night claiming a harbor seal found dead on the beach in Ballard had been “shot” and/or “decapitated.” SS checked it out and Robin says authorities found NO evidence of human involvement in the seal’s death – its state of decomposition was not unusual. She explains in detail, here.
Heads up for whale fans: The Orca Network‘s Facebook page has various posts/comments today tracking a group of transient orcas last reported to be headed northbound through Colvos Passage on the west side of Vashon Island. So, in case they pass Beach Drive/Alki Point, we’re mentioning it here. Let us know if you see them!
If you weren’t part of the standing-room-only crowd at The Whale Trail‘s speaker-series launch two nights ago at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) – good news – “Diver Laura” James, who also participated on behalf of toxic-runoff-fighting Tox-Ick.org, recorded video of the orca presentation by Mark Sears! (Next Whale Trail guest speaker: Lynne Barre from NOAA Fisheries on February 21st, 6:30-9 pm, again at C & P.)
Thanks to “Diver Laura” James for sharing photos from tonight’s standing-room-only event presented by The Whale Trail at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor). The cozy old home-turned-coffeehouse held 66 people for the presentation by West Seattle-residing orca researcher Mark Sears:
The Whale Trail’s founder/executive director Donna Sandstrom tells WSB, “It was a great night! Even better than we’d hoped,” with “great synergy between our groups” – referring to Laura’s participation on behalf of the Tox-Ick.org runoff-education campaign, and Seal Sitters joining in too. We asked Donna what’s up for the second in this new Whale Trail speaker series; she says Lynne Barre from NOAA Fisheries will be the featured speaker on February 21st, 6:30-9 pm, again at C & P.
(Seal Sitters photos by David Hutchinson)
From Robin Lindsey @ Seal Sitters:
Every year, Seal Sitters’ hotline (206-905-7325) receives hundreds of calls. Most are local, but many others come from surrounding areas of Puget Sound. As part of NOAA’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Seal Sitters responds to all reports of marine mammals on the beaches of West Seattle – both live and dead. Usually, the calls concern vulnerable harbor seal pups resting and warming up on shore. However, with a 50% mortality rate their first year, Seal Sitters deals with many dead pups annually.
Saturday afternoon, we responded to our first mortality of 2013. The hotline received a report of a “sick” pup at Lowman Beach Park, being watched over by a young girl until volunteers could arrive. Responders discovered that the pup was in fact dead. As is the norm in these cases, the location was noted, photo ID taken, a brief visual examination was made, and the length was recorded (35 ½ inches).
Because the dead pup was in such good condition and a prime candidate for necropsy, a call was made to WDFW Marine Mammal Investigations. The pup was bagged and removed from the beach. Transport will be made to the WDFW lab in Lakewood, in hopes that the cause of death can be determined. Thanks to Schmitz Park Elementary student Lunabella who called the hotline.
Seal Sitters recently received an award from Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods matching fund program to implement our project for 2013, “Year of the Seal.” To receive and expend these funds, our volunteers are required to put in an equivalent number of matching hours of work on the educational project, culminating with the installation at Alki Beach of a bronze sculpture depicting a harbor seal mom and pup. The most numerous marine mammals in Puget Sound, harbor seals are the most likely to be encountered on our beaches, as they spend about half of their lives on shore. Harbor seals do not migrate. Seals born in our area stay year-round their entire lives. For this reason, they are considered to be an “indicator species” of the health of our waters. Throughout the year, Seal Sitters will be placing an emphasis on educational outreach to inform local school children and the public about important issues regarding our fragile marine ecosystem.
In the coming months, public meetings co-sponsored by Seattle Parks & Recreation, will be held to present our Year of the Seal sculpture concept and site location and will welcome your input. Stay tuned for further details. Read more about the project on the Seal Sitters website.
If you are interested in getting a look at some of our local pinnipeds, you might visit Jack Block Park. Quite a number of harbor seals have been hauling out there since mid-December.
(That’s where the top photo was taken.)
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