Wildlife 1182 results

WEST SEATTLE WHALE-WATCHING: Orcas not far away

2:53 PM: Thanks to Kersti Muul, who pointed out via text that an Orca Network commenter reported orcas off Fay Bainbridge Park on north Bainbridge Island [map] about an hour ago – if they continued southbound, they could end up off West Seattle. Kersti is watching from Constellation Park south of Alki Point and “not seeing anything yet,” but we thought we’d share the potential heads-up. (And whether or not you get to do any whale-watching today, remember The Whale Trail has an event tonight!)

5:21 PM: Now alongside north Vashon, per comments, as dusk approaches.

SAVE THE SALMON, SAVE THE ORCAS: Whale Trail event Thursday

You know the Southern Resident Killer Whales are in trouble. Part of the problem: Their main source of food is in trouble too. But how much do you really know about where things stand, and how to – if you can – help? This Thursday, The Whale Trail invites you to an event that’s certain to educate and inspire you. The announcement:

Saving Salmon in Puget Sound
Presentation by Jeanette Dorner
Thursday, February 15, 7:00 – 8:30 pm.
C & P Coffee Company, 5612 California Ave SW
$5 suggested donation; kids free!
Advance tickets: brownpapertickets.com

Puget Sound is an important producer of salmon for our endangered southern resident orcas (J, K and L pods). Fourteen Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups work with landowners and community partners around the state to identify and implement salmon habitat restoration projects. Join us to learn more about their ongoing work, especially in our own Seattle backyard.

Jeannette Dorner, Executive Director of the Mid Sound Fisheries Enhancement Group, will bring us up to date on salmon recovery efforts in this critical part of the orcas’ range.

The Mid Sound area includes the Green – Duwamish watershed, the Cedar/Sammamish/Lake Washington watershed, the watersheds of Eastern Kitsap County which drain into Central Puget Sound, and all the Puget Sound shorelines in the Central Puget Sound area in King County and Kitsap County.

With the survival of the southern residents at stake, it’s even more important to support and invest in local salmon recovery efforts .

This is the first Orca Talk of 2018, presented by The Whale Trail in West Seattle. The event will also feature updates from Seal Sitters.

Following the presentation, join us for a discussion about the southern resident orcas. Get up to speed about current issues and initiatives, and learn what you can do to help. With just 76 individuals in the population, it’s all hands on deck for the whales!

About the Speaker

Jeanette Dorner has a long history working to recover salmon in Puget Sound. She worked for 11 years as the Salmon Recovery Program Manager with the Nisqually Tribe, coordinating the protection and restoration of salmon habitat in the Nisqually watershed. She played a lead role in helping facilitate with partners major salmon restoration projects including the 900 acre restoration of the Nisqually Estuary. She then worked as the Director of Ecosystem and Salmon Recovery at the Puget Sound Partnership, supporting the work of hundreds of partners around Puget Sound to protect, restore and clean up their rivers, streams and Puget Sound shorelines. In 2017, Jeanette became the Executive Director of the Mid Sound Fishery Enhancement Group.

Jeanette is also the mother to two wonderful kids. Part of her passion to recover salmon habitat and to preserve and protect this beautiful place we call home is to try to pass on to her children a home where they can continue to enjoy the natural wonders of this place with their families – going to watch orcas swimming through Puget Sound, visiting salmon spawning in our local streams, and hiking in the majestic forests of the Pacific Northwest.

About The Whale Trail

The Whale Trail is a series of sites around the region where the public may view orcas and other marine mammals from shore. Our mission is to inspire appreciation and stewardship of whales and our marine environment. Our overarching goal is to ensure the southern resident orcas recover from the threat of extinction.

Through our current sites and signs, including two on every Washington State ferry, we reach more than 30 million people each year. The Whale Trail is currently adding new sites along the west coast, from California to British Columbia, throughout the southern resident orcas’ range and beyond.

The Whale Trail is led by a core team of partners including NOAA Fisheries, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Seattle Aquarium, the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and the Whale Museum. Our BC planning team is led by the BC Cetacean Sighting Network.

Many members of the Whale Trail teams met when they worked together to return Springer, the orphaned orca, to her pod. Executive Director Donna Sandstrom was inspired by the project’s collaborative success to found The Whale Trail in 2008.

The Whale Trail is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, registered in Washington State. Join us!

WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: Seal Sitters update, plus bonus underwater video from “Diver Laura”

(Uno the harbor seal, photographed last week by David Hutchinson)

Have you seen a seal lately? Many have, and Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network is busy. Here’s an update from volunteer David Hutchinson:

While Seal Sitters’ “Blubberblog” site has not been updated recently, due to ongoing technical difficulties, our volunteers have been on duty responding to vulnerable young harbor seals hauled out on West Seattle beaches. Our normal busy season (September – November) was slower than usual but 2018 has started off with a flurry of calls to our Hotline (206-905-7325).

One seal, “Uno,” has accounted for the majority of responses this year. After first coming ashore on January 4th near Colman Pool, Uno has decided that the shoreline of Elliott Bay is her preferred location (you can tell it’s the same harbor seal by comparing the spots on the faces). She has become a familiar sight to passersby who frequently ask our volunteers how Uno is doing that day. Monday, volunteers were stretched thin when two additional young seals came ashore at separate locations in West Seattle.

Responses to these live seals is a positive experience compared to the one-week period in January when we had to deal with three near the north end of Lincoln Park that weren’t as fortunate. One was reported as deceased on the raft at that location, and another dead animal was recovered from Lowman Beach. The third arrived onshore with respiratory distress. After being examined by a NOAA consulting vet, that seal was transported to PAWS, where it later died. All three animals will be necropsied by WDFW.

We have received a number of inquiries about becoming a volunteer. These people will be receiving an email notice when a final date is set. As of now, Seal Sitters plans on holding its next training session in the late spring. Look for an announcement at sealsitters.org.

P.S. Bonus underwater seal video! This is from “Diver Laura” James – not Uno, she says, but another harbor seal, and a very curious one at that:

That’s some of her 360-degree-video equipment; she promises to share its video soon.

West Seattle weekend scene: SR3 volunteer training

We’ve reported before on SR3Sealife Response, Rehabilitation & Research — the organization working toward the Pacific Northwest’s first marine-wildlife hospital/rehab/science center. Today, Leslie Dierauf tells us, SR3 was at Alki UCC to train about 20 volunteers.

Leslie also sent the photos; she’s a member of the SR3 board. Want to get involved with SR3? Here’s how.

FROM SEAL SITTERS: Watch for ‘weaners’ and other beach visitors

(Uno on Friday, photographed with a long lens by David Hutchinson)

See a seal on shore? Alert Seal Sitters! Here’s their newest update:

“Uno,” Seal Sitters’ first harbor seal response of 2018, has recently moved his favorite haulout spot from Lincoln Park to Elliott Bay. If anyone happens to see him or any other marine mammal on one of our West Seattle beaches, please contact the Seal Sitters’ Hotline at 206-905-SEAL (7325). We are having a bit of a flurry of weaned seals, anywhere from 4-6 months old, along West Seattle’s shoreline and it’s imperative they be given the space to rest and warm up. Sadly, the “weaner” Seal Sitters rescued from Lincoln Park on Thursday died overnight at the rehab facility and has been taken for necropsy.

UPDATE: Orcas in Elliott Bay off West Seattle – photos added!

(Added: Photo by David Hutchinson – orcas passing cormorants @ Duwamish Head light)

12:41 PM: Thanks for the tip – a couple of Orca Network commenters are reported orcas seen off West Point, across Elliott Bay, described as “drifting southward” as of about 20 minutes ago. So this is early heads-up that they *might* be visible here before long. We’ll be heading out with our binoculars to look.

(Added: Photo by Susan Numbers)

1:31 PM: We looked too soon. Just got a call from Jeff Hogan of Killer Whale Tales that they turned into Elliott Bay and at least half a dozen have just passed Seacrest and are “headed [northeast] toward the Space Needle.”

2 PM They have changed direction and are headed back west toward the mouth of the bay. We have also heard from Donna Sandstrom of The Whale Trail, who is watching from Luna/Anchor Park, while Jeff is with a group at Don Armeni Boat Ramp.

(Added: Photo by Dan Ciske)

3:36 PM: They turned north within the past hour, Dan on Alki tells us. We ourselves caught one glimpse as they headed back out of the bay – and then lost sight.

4:00 PM: Photos added – thanks to everyone who sent them! These were transient orcas, not residents, were told – one major difference is diet; transients eat mammals, too, which means the sea lions we saw in the vicinity were being extra brave and/or foolhardy!

WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: ‘How a Bad Bird Saved a Good Place’

You might recognize that owl – Wollet the barred owl, born in Lincoln Park, photographed in 2009 by Trileigh Tucker. A few years later, in 2012, concern over Lincoln Park wildlife like Wollet factored into the community challenge to Seattle Parks‘ attempt to allow a commercial “adventure attraction” to take a chunk of the park without significant public discussion. Now, Trileigh tells the – complicated! – story, in an essay just published in Cold Mountain Review, “Love in the Time of Extinction: How a Bad Bird Saved a Good Place.” In case you’re looking for Sunday reading, we’re sharing the link – find it here.

SALMON IN THE SCHOOLS: Egg-delivery day at Highland Park Elementary and elsewhere

An exciting day for 16 West Seattle schools – delivery of 2,400 eyed coho eggs for the Salmon in Schools program. We were at Highland Park Elementary, one of the newest participants, as longtime volunteers Judy Pickens (above center) and Phil Sweetland (below right) made the delivery and explained how things work.

At HPES, 4th grade teacher Danielle Meier (above left) is overseeing the program this year. Participants at other schools range from preschool to high school (Chief Sealth International is another new participant). But this isn’t just a West Seattle program – Judy and Phil are on the steering committee for all of Seattle, with 73 public and private schools having obtained state Department of Fish and Wildlife permits to raise and release fish. Today, volunteer Shannon Ninburg helped them make the rounds of local deliveries.

The students and teachers will observe the salmon growing until May, when the fry will be released there – 1,800 fry by 744 visiting students last year. The eggs are from Soos Creek Hatchery in Auburn and are not to be taken for granted, as we were reminded in 2016.

WEST SEATTLE WHALE WATCHING: Orcas north of Blake Island

11:29 AM: If you grab binoculars and head for Constellation Park [map], you just might find Kersti Muul and Jeff Hogan there watching orcas. Kersti has texted us that whales are visible off the north tip of Blake Island, currently “milling,” though they had been observed northbound earlier.

11:47 AM: Jeff confirms that they’re visible from here, between Blake and Bainbridge islands currently.

WEST SEATTLE WHALE WATCHING: Northbound orcas nearby

10:25 AM: Thanks to Alisa and Kersti for the tip – if you look westward across the Sound, you might see orcas. Orca Network had a report of northbound whales headed toward Blake Island, along the west side of Vashon, as of an hour ago. We are at Constellation Park but without binocs. Let us know if you see orcas!

11:15 AM: Update – they were most recently seen passing Restoration Point on Bainbridge Island [map], which means they might be in view looking north from the west end of Alki.

WEST SEATTLE WHALE WATCHING: Southbound orcas off Bainbridge

December 30, 2017 3:25 pm
|    Comments Off on WEST SEATTLE WHALE WATCHING: Southbound orcas off Bainbridge
 |   Seen at sea | West Seattle news | Wildlife

3:25 PM: With less than an hour until nightfall, we don’t know how good the viewing will be, but we’re sharing the news that orcas are headed southbound in our direction, last seen off Bainbridge Island. Kersti Muul sent the tip that they’d been seen from the Shilshole vicinity, and we just checked Orca Network, where a tipster saw them off mid-Bainbridge [map] – closer to that side than this one, so if you go looking, take good binoculars!

4:22 PM: As it gets dark, one Orca Network commenter reports one male orca is visible from Constellation Park (just south of Alki Point), still southbound. Maybe we’ll see whales northbound in the morning! Let us know any time you see one (or more) off West Seattle – text or voice 206-293-6302 – thank you!

ICYMI: Mark Wangerin’s goose-and-gosling photo gets Times honor

You might recall seeing that photo of a Canada goose and gosling here on WSB last April – one of many beautiful bird (and sometimes other wildlife) photos contributed by Mark Wangerin. In case you missed it, this photo drew a special honor from a showcase elsewhere – chosen as one of the 2017 top ten Seattle Times Reader Photos of the Year. Mark photographed the geese along Harbor Avenue SW. It was honored in the Northwest Flora and Fauna category. (Thanks to Gary Jones – who also contributes memorable images here – for pointing out Mark’s recognition.)

WEST SEATTLE WHALE WATCHING: Northbound orcas

Thanks for the tips! Orcas have been seen northbound past West Seattle in the past half-hour – Bretnie reported one off Fauntleroy, Amy saw four off Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook.

VIDEO: 360-degree view of West Seattle’s Cove 2

The video is from “Diver Laura” James, who continues to experiment with 360-degree video equipment, and shared that clip from one of her most-recent experiments. It was recorded in the Cove 2 area off north/northeast West Seattle.

P.S. If you haven’t viewed 360-degree video before – just “grab” it in the player window while it’s playing, and pull it around to look above, below, behind, around!

UPDATED MONDAY EVENING: If you have trouble with the clip as embedded above, try this version.

THE WHALE TRAIL: ‘It’s not too late’ for resident orcas to recover, but …

(Tuesday photo by Kersti Muul)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

West Seattle-based, West Coast-spanning The Whale Trail chose an auspicious week for its annual winter gathering: It began with two opportunities to watch Southern Resident Killer Whales passing our shores, southbound Monday and northbound Tuesday.

The message of the gathering this past Tuesday night at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor): It’s not too late for the resident orca population to rebound, despite being near a historic low.

Whale Trail founder Donna Sandstrom noted this is the third year they’ve had a “winter gathering,” four years since launching the ongoing series of Orca Talks. “Our tagline is connect, protect, inspire,” and she wanted everyone to feel inspired to take action, particularly toward protection – more on that later.

The first to speak were two photographers whose work you’ve seen here – Trileigh Tucker and Kersti Muul. The night’s lineup also included West Seattle-based researcher Mark Sears, often in a research boat when the resident orcas are in the area, and Lynne Barre from NOAA.

Read More

WEST SEATTLE WHALE WATCHING: Northbound orcas

(photo by Monica Zaborac)

9:25 AM: Last night people watched southbound resident orcas through sunset … now we are getting reports they are headed this way northbound, likely in view from Fauntleroy “soon.”

9:31 AM: At least one is already reported in view from Emma Schmitz Overlook.

10:08 AM: Thanks to commenters for updates, most recently Peter, who sees “About 6-8 orca heading northbound, mid-channel and spread out, between Blake Island marina and West Seattle.”

WHALE WATCHING: Orcas off West Seattle

2:57 PM: Texters tipped us to Southern Resident Killer Whales heading this way, southbound – Orca Network‘s last report was that some of them were seen as close as West Point on the north side of the entrance to Elliott Bay, so we’re awaiting word of whether they’re visible from this area, and headed downhill with binoculars just in case. Let us know if you see them!

3:46 PM: ON has them off, and much closer to, Bainbridge. We are looking from Constellation Park & not seeing them. (4 mins later … just spotted two along S. Bainbridge!)

(Photo by Monica Zaborac)

4:03 PM: Still visible SB, from Constellation, as they approach north Blake Is. Among those here is Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail – her group’s winter gathering for orca updates is tomorrow night (see our calendar).

(Photo by Kersti Muul)

4:17 PM: We have to head back to HQ but as of a few minutes ago there were a few still in view off Blake, still southbound.

6:57 PM: While we were glad to be able to see the whales, we were there only with binoculars, not a camera (our photographer was busy elsewhere), so we are appreciative to receive two photos we’ve just added above.

LOVE ORCAS? Be at The Whale Trail’s winter gathering Tuesday

December 7, 2017 11:32 pm
|    Comments Off on LOVE ORCAS? Be at The Whale Trail’s winter gathering Tuesday
 |   Seen at sea | West Seattle news | Wildlife

(Photo by Mark Sears, permit 16163-01)

We’ve reveled in whale-watching opportunities as the Southern Resident Killer Whales visited multiple times the past few weeks … but concern is rising, along with the joy. What’s the current reality of their situation? Next Tuesday, 6 pm at C & P Coffee Company (5612 California SW; WSB sponsor), is your chance to find out, courtesy of The Whale Trail:

There are just 76 individuals in the Southern Resident Killer Whale population – a near-historical low. What can we do to prevent these beloved and iconic pods from going extinct? Join us to hear the latest about J, K and L pods, and learn what you can do to help.

At the Whale Trail Winter Gathering, local photographers and researchers will share stories and photos of orcas and other marine mammals who share our waters. Hear about recent encounters with southern resident orcas, and other sightings near West Seattle this year.

We’ll also have signed copies of Erich Hoyt’s latest book The Encyclopedia of Whale, Dolphins, and Porpoises for sale, and other goodies!

Bring your questions, concerns, ideas, stories and poems. Together, we’ll find light in the dark for the whales.

Buy tickets now to reserve your seat. (Kids under 12 are free.) Look forward to seeing you there!

About The Whale Trail

The Whale Trail is a series of sites around the region where the public may view orcas and other marine mammals from shore. Our mission is to inspire appreciation and stewardship of whales and our marine environment. Our overarching goal is to ensure the southern resident orcas recover from the threat of extinction.

Through our current sites and signs, including two on every Washington State ferry, we reach more than 50 million people each year. The Whale Trail is currently adding new sites along the west coast, from California to British Columbia, throughout the southern resident orcas’ range and beyond.

C & P is at 5612 California SW.

WEST SEATTLE WHALE-WATCHING: Orcas, northbound

(Added 4:04 pm – photo by Monica Zaborac)

10:28 AM: Thanks to the texter who reports Orca Network commenters have just seen orcas headed northbound past Point Robinson on Maury Island, across the Sound from Des Moines, so if they keep heading this way, they could be within view from West Seattle before too long. If they’re the same ones seen southbound yesterday, they’re Southern Resident Killer Whales.

11 AM: Orca Network commenter reports them near Three Tree Point as of about 10 minutes ago, still northbound.

11:32 AM: Texter says they’re seeing whale spouts from the Fauntleroy ferry dock vicinity.

12:48 PM: In view from Lowman, Kersti says in comments!

2:01 PM: Gary comments that at least two are in view just south of Alki Point, still northbound.

4:05 PM: Judging by Orca Network discussion, they’ve passed West Seattle now, still heading north.

WEST SEATTLE WHALE-WATCHING: Orcas in the area

9:59 AM: Five orcas visible from Emma Schmitz Overlook, southbound, reports Kersti Muul.

12:44 PM: In comments, Kersti says orcas are about to pass Point Robinson on Maury Island [map], so they are well south of West Seattle, and still southbound.

WEST SEATTLE WHALE-WATCHING: Orcas passing our shore

2:54 PM: You’ll want an umbrella as well as binoculars if you go look for them, but we’re told by both Kersti Muul and Jeff Hogan that orcas are headed southbound past Constellation Park right now, so they should be visible for a while off West Seattle.

3:16 PM: Jeff’s moving to Emma Schmitz Overlook [map] as the orcas continue heading south.

4:17 PM: See comments for updates – they’re still in view!

West Seattle weekend scene: Seacrest squid-seeking crowd

Thanks to Kersti Muul for photographing the crowd at Seacrest Pier tonight – squid fishers undaunted by the chilly rain, though as also shown, the squid are putting up their inky protest. Fishing for squid has relatively simple rules, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife website. The season is year-round, though fall/winter is the peak time. If you’re not already a squid expert, find out more about them here.

FAUNTLEROY CREEK: 2017 spawning season ends with ‘Little Jill’

(Photos by Dennis Hinton. Above, volunteer Pete Draughon watching the Fauntleroy fish ladder)

By Dennis Hinton and Judy Pickens
Special to West Seattle Blog

Last year about this time, “Big Wally” closed the spawning season by hanging out in lower Fauntleroy Creek for two weeks. The 7-to-8-pound male coho was likely waiting (in vain) for a mate.

This year, the last of four spawners spotted in the creek was “Little Jill,” a small hatchery-released female. Collectively known as “jacks,” these immature coho come back to fresh water after only one year at sea instead of the standard two.

(“Little Jill” is in this photo – but hard to see)

At about 15″ long, Jill was first thought to be a cutthroat in to feed on fresh salmon eggs. But after she zipped up and down the fish ladder for a few days, volunteers saw that her adipose fin was clipped – the way hatcheries mark smolts when they release them. Watchers last saw her November 2nd, showing signs of deterioration common to spawners.

Volunteer watcher Mark Ahlness claimed the first spawner sightings October 27 – a 3-to-4-pound female and a smaller, red-sided male. The little one was soon a carcass fluttering in the flow. A third fish came in before Jill; at least one other was spotted at the mouth, but watchers didn’t find it in the creek. No fish were seen venturing farther upstream than the fish ladder (just across Fauntleroy Way SW from the beach). Watchers saw no indication of spawning.

Given favorable high tides and creek conditions, watchers continued their surveying until yesterday (Sunday, November 19th), with no further sightings.

The watch involved a dozen volunteers this year. About three dozen visitors stopped by to check out the fish and habitat.

Previous five years’ totals: 7 in 2016, 0 in 2015, 19 in 2014, 0 in 2013, 274 in 2012.

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