Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network’s final training for the 2014 seal pupping season will take place on August 9th. There will be no further trainings until late fall due to time constraints on volunteers.
Last year’s record-breaking pupping season stats in West Seattle (from late July’s first response to a newborn seal pup to the end of the year’s weaned pups) included 163 responses to marine mammals, including 66 positively identified seal pups. This 2014 season has begun unusually early in West Seattle with responses in June to one full lanugo seal pup “Luigi,” a second premature pup, and full-term “Junebug” who is now in rehab at PAWS Wildlife Center.
Saturday morning, August 9, 2014
10 am – 12 pm (doors open at 9:30 am; plan to arrive early to register and receive paperwork – training begins promptly at 10)
Alki UCC Church 6115 SW Hinds, Seattle
Please RSVP on blubberblog for the training to assure seating.
*Note to parents: All children accompanying adults must be able to sit quietly through an almost-two-hour presentation (with break).
Unlike most marine mammal stranding networks, we encourage children to participate in Seal Sitters – supervised at all times, of course, by a parent or guardian. We are so proud of our amazing and dedicated volunteers who are on duty rain or shine – we hope you will join us!
A multi-media presentation will illustrate our educational work in the community and the unique challenges of protecting seals and other marine mammals in an urban environment. Included in the training is an overview of NOAA’s West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network and biology and behavior of seals and other pinnipeds (due to time frame, supplementary off-season sessions will include more marine mammals of Puget Sound). For additional questions and info or to be placed on a contact list for future training opportunities, please e-mail us.
Contact info is here.
Thanks to Bob Venezia for sharing the photo – he reports seeing that crow near Lincoln Park before noon today. Is it albino, or “just” white? Experts explain there is a difference. We learned a bit about non-black crows back in 2008, when “Leucy” the leucistic crow appeared in this WSB story (that bird died the next year on our record 103-degree day). Has anyone seen this bird before?
First coyote report in a while. It’s from Chris:
At 11:45 PM I saw a coyote in the middle of the California-Southern intersection [map]. I was 1/4 block away from it, on the east side of California at Elmgrove. I got a pretty good look at it. I was with my dog and it stopped and looked at us and turned around and went west on Southern towards Northrup. I crossed the street and looked down Southern and it turned around and looked at us again from mid block then continued west on Southern past Northrup. It looked like a healthy young one. I was glad it was wary of us.
Making sure we and coyotes stay wary of each other is a major recommendation of experts – here’s what else the state has to say.
That little harbor seal photographed by Adem at the Fauntleroy ferry dock last weekend wasn’t technically a pup, Robin Lindsey from Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network explains, but rather a yearling. However, the season of seal births IS now under way, and if you see a little seal on a local beach, it’s most likely a nursing pup and it’s critical that you keep your distance so its mom won’t be scared away when she comes back for it. It’s also important to call Seal Sitters – 206-905-7325 (SEAL) – so they can help.
Earlier this week, rescuers had to intervene after a nursing pup got stuck in the rocks by Duwamish Head; the story is on their Blubberblog website. That pup, nicknamed Junebug, was the third spotted on West Seattle shores already this season, which Robin says is the earliest on record.
Two wildlife notes from the inbox tonight – Karen, who lives in The Junction, reports three eagles spent at least 10 minutes on the 4030 California construction crane, “perching, circling, landing again and again … much chirping and activity.” They looked like two adults and a juvenile, she says, perhaps flight lessons for the younger one. Eagle sightings in West Seattle certainly aren’t rare, but this is the first on-a-crane report we’ve received.
In the early evening, Phyllis and Jeff reported, “Coyote sighting – about 50-60 lbs and wandering through our yard in the 5000 block of Beach Drive. Looks like he/she has been searching for food, as our backyard was all dug up. Usually don’t see them during the daytime! Our kitties are inside!” (We have actually had more than a few daylight reports over the years. This info from state wildlife experts explains what to do if/when you see one, day or night.)
From “Diver Laura” James, that’s the latest underwater look at the state of sea stars (aka “starfish”) at Cove 2 near Seacrest. Earlier this week, we featured video from a CCTV report on the sea-star dieoff, with Laura among the interviewees, in her role as a “citizen scientist.” The newest report was published last night on SeattleTimes.com (WSB partner), with a West Seattle focus, though our area is far from alone in experiencing the epidemic. Meantime, Laura summarizes what she observed in the video (from a dive on Thursday) as:
I’d gotten reports of baby stars showing up so figured it was time to go take a peek. It is really only one species that is showing what is hopefully signs of recovery (they still have to make it to ‘large’ size before it counts) the Evasterias or “mottled star”. Only a few pisaster (the purple ones) and zero pycnopodia (sunflower stars).
A reminder – if you spot sea stars on the beach or in the water, your observations can help too: sickstarfish.com.
Scientists still haven’t figured out what is causing the mass die-off of sea stars (aka “starfish,” though they’re not fish) in our waters and many other places along the Pacific Coast. The clip above, shared by West Seattle’s “Diver Laura” James, is the latest in-depth look at the crisis. Laura (and her dad!) are interviewed as part of the report, which was produced for China’s English-language network CCTV (you also can view it on the CCTV website here).
Meantime, as noted here earlier this month, your observations are important if you see starfish, living or dead – republishing what Laura told us during the recent low-low-low tides: “There’s a variety of ways to share the information – optimally through the surveys linked here. If people don’t have time to fill out a form if they could just use #sickstarfish [social-media hashtag] or manual entry on www.sickstarfish.com or even just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, it would be a massive help.” She is helping, as you’ll see in the CCTV story, as a “citizen scientist.”
It’s not just nuts that will stop a squirrel in her tracks. Trileigh Tucker shares the photos:
I encountered this incredibly photogenic squirrel foraging along the south part of the Lincoln Park beach. She appeared to be a nursing mother; maybe eating the dandelions somehow provides special nourishment to provide for her young?
Trileigh writes about nature and publishes more of her photos at naturalpresencearts.com.
The tide’s coming back in again after the mega-low -3.3 at noontime. But it’ll be almost that low tomorrow, and if you went out on the beach today – or plan to do so tomorrow – “Diver Laura” James has a request for you: Everyone studying the sick starfish is hoping for a new round of surveys with this weekend’s low tide, so if you saw any starfish, alive or dead, there’s a variety of ways to share the information – optimally through the surveys linked here, but Laura adds: “If people don’t have time to fill out a form if they could just use #sickstarfish [social-media hashtag] or manual entry on www.sickstarfish.com or even just email me at email@example.com, it would be a massive help.” She was planning to do a walking survey near Seacrest, to reach divers and others in the area.
12:01 PM: “Washington’s squid are generally less than a foot long,” says this state Department of Fish and Wildlife page. Well – not this one that Carrie Ann photographed during this morning’s low tide. She says, “Looks to have a bit of wear and tear from hitting rocks and scavengers pecking at it, but still impressive to see up close.” Humboldt squid? Reminiscent of this one five years ago.
2:46 PM UPDATE: In comments, Lynn says it’s believed to be a “robust clubhook squid.”
Wildlife advocates tried but were unable to save the life of a prematurely born seal pup that appeared on the Alki shore on Monday. Robin Lindsey from Seal Sitters Marine Stranding Network tells the story of “Luigi” in an update on Blubberblog, and adds in a note to WSB:
Yesterday was a terribly sad day for all of us that looked after Luigi, estimated to be only a day old when reported on Alki Monday. For the past two days, onlookers were so considerate and caring and understood the urgency about keeping the area free of disturbance in hopes that mom would return. There are a number of reasons that this pup might have been abandoned on our shore – not the least of which is that the mom may have died during the birth. We are hoping that anyone who might have noticed an adult seal on shore Monday at Alki or nearby – or one offshore that appeared to be in distress – will contact us so we might help unravel this mystery.
It is no mystery, however, that if people and dogs are too close and scare away a mother seal, she will often not return for her pup if she feels threatened. As always, dogs continue to be a problem on our public beaches and put wildlife at risk.
In the photo here, you can see the long lanugo coat that indicates she was born a month prematurely, a very difficult hurdle for survival. To our knowledge there has not been a live lanugo birth in West Seattle before – certainly not in the almost 8 years I have been doing this. Pupping season is just now getting underway in South Puget Sound rookeries and full-term pups generally start being born in late June. Usually, we see our first pup in West Seattle in early July, but the height of the season is September and October as weaned pups disperse from the rookeries.
Usually, a pup turns up on shore just to rest while its mom is out looking for food. If you see one – as Robin mentions, the season is about to begin – or if you have information on the circumstances of Luigi’s birth, call 206-905-SEAL. Robin also adds a vital reminder: “Only authorized members of NOAA’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network can handle marine mammals. It is against the law to touch, move or feed them.” (It really IS a network, including volunteers like SS – the most recent NOAA map with contacts is here.)
Part of the corps, John Smersh (who you might know from longtime WSB sponsor Click! Design That Fits in The Junction), shared the photos from Constellation Park south of Alki Point. The naturalists are there and on the Lincoln Park beach by Colman Pool until 1 pm today; here’s their schedule for the rest of the week, and on into summer. In just two weeks, you’ll see some even lower tides, bottoming out at -3.3 feet on June 14th, lowest it’ll get this summer.
Two ways you can help West Seattle wildlife via Seal Sitters:
(WSB file photo from one of the previous Seal Sitters-co-sponsored cleanups)
JUNE 14 CLEANUP: Get trash off Alki Beach, before it gets into the water and into/onto seals and other marine life. Join Seal Sitters and co-sponsors for a beach cleanup 9:30 am-12:30 pm three weeks from today, Saturday, June 14th. One of the co-sponsors, PAWS Wildlife Center, will talk about the threat wildlife faces from beach debris, and the difficulty of rehab for rescued wildlife. This cleanup is in honor of Sandy the seal pup, rescued and rehabbed by PAWS and then found dead in abandoned netting, and of the gray whale that died in The Arroyos, then was found to have a stomach full of plastic debris. Bring your own gloves if you can, and meet at Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza (61st/Alki Ave SW) at 9:30 am June 14th – RSVP via the link in this announcement on Seal Sitters’ Blubberblog.
HOIST A MUG WITH A HELPING HAND: Seal Sitters has also announced that Rock Bottom Brewery downtown (1333 5th Avenue) has offered to raise money via donating all proceeds from $2 pints of a specific ale fold next Tuesday night (May 27th), 5-8 pm – if you’re downtown, stop by! Details on Blubberblog.
This year’s salmon-release season at Fauntleroy Creek is at the midpoint, reports watershed/creek steward Judy Pickens: “We’ve hosted some 350 children so far, who have introduced an estimated
900 coho fry into the creek.” She shared that short video clip, recorded by volunteer Peggy Cummings during the KapKa Cooperative School‘s salmon-release visit. That’s volunteer Dennis Hinton helping the students in/by the water, and mostly off-camera, that’s the voice of KapKa staffer Jamie Shilling, leading the singing and drumming. This week and next, nine school visits remain before this year’s round of releases is done (here’s our coverage of the season’s first one).
From the WSB inbox, two coyote reports – first one sent this morning by Debbie:
Just saw a coyote heading east on 108th Street toward 35th [map] in Arbor Heights.
And this note from Russell is about a Wednesday morning double sighting:
Just wanted to warn our neighbors in Gatewood that my wife spotted two very healthy coyotes in the intersection of SW Monroe Street and 41st Avenue SW [map] at 3:45 am (Wednesday morning). After a few minutes they headed south on 41st.
Our standard footnote: We share coyote reports on occasion in the interest of being educational; believe it or not, we still hear from and about people who don’t realize coyotes live in the city, or think you’ll only see them next to greenbelts, or at night, or … It’s in the coyotes’ interests and ours that we keep a wary distance apart; this info from the state explains how (including this key advice: if you see one, try to scare it away).
Another honey-bee swarm in West Seattle today, this time in North Admiral, this time on private property, where Meredith made that sign to let passersby know about the bees. A beekeeper from the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association “swarm list” was expected within a few hours, but this time, the bees found their own new home, Meredith reports. While handling the Westwood Village swarm we covered yesterday, beekeeper Clay Cook had explained that they might hang out in a temporary spot like this for 15 minutes up to 2 days, until one or more “scouts” return with word of a perfect new home – so apparently in this case, they found one.
12:47 PM: On our way to check out multiple reports of a bee swarm at Westwood. We mention it in advance because beekeepers have asked us to mention as often as possible, please do NOT panic, do NOT try to poison them – swarming is natural, especially this time of year, and the best thing to do is to contact somebody on the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association‘s swarm list to come remove them – if you can’t just wait them out. Here’s our recent story about all this.
1:31 PM: We are here and a beekeeper (above, in hat) is too. He says this is a relatively small group, maybe 20,000. They break off from a hive and hang out 15 minutes to 2 days until a scout brings back word of a suitable new spot. He will hang out after collecting these so the scouts come back. Photos shortly.
2:01 PM: Photos added. The beekeeper, Clay Cook (who is on this year’s list of PSBA beekeepers to call about swarms), says it’s home turf for him since he works part-time at Westwood Village. He said that bees swarming like this generally would have left their original hive not far away, so any of the “scouts” that scattered while he was up there and didn’t make it into his box would likely find their way back to that nest.
It was heartening to see people stopping and remarking how cool it was to see the bees, instead of getting scared and bolting (of course, it’s understandable if you’re allergic; one passing driver slowed down and then, when informed that the buzz was about bees, said she needed to get out of there since she is).
The eagle’s not always regal. (Click the image to see the full-size view.)
Thanks to Christopher Frankovich for sharing! Your caption?
What looks to be a record-setting month of salmon-fry releases at Fauntleroy Creek has begun. On the warmest day so far this year, Roxhill Elementary students came to the creek after school today to release salmon they’d been raising:
Longtime volunteer Dennis Hinton was there to assist the students in carefully transferring the little salmon into the creek:
Creek steward Judy Pickens has drawn up the schedule for the next four weeks and tells WSB, “We expect to see at least 600 students this year in a record 20 releases.” Then in the fall, there’s another round of volunteer activity in the annual watch for returning salmon – last year was pretty much a bust, while the year before set a record.
(Thanks to Shannon for sharing this photo via the WSB Facebook page)
2:54 PM: If you missed seeing them earlier this week – those two orcas are back in the area again, just passing Alki Point moments ago and headed south. Thanks to the tipster who sent word of this; the Orca Network Facebook page also has sightings reports, and mentions that NOAA has been tracking them, so you might be able to spot them by looking for a research boat. Please let us know if/where/when you see them!
ADDED 10:21 PM: Thanks to Trileigh Tucker for two more orca photos – above and below this line.
(Added 8:55 am: Photo by Carolyn Newman)
Lots of orca-watching going on this morning, from Beach Drive to Elliott Bay, where the newest reports are from – likely the same two transient male orcas who have been visiting the area for the past several days. Photos shared via Twitter:
— Jonathan Evans (@jhewiz) April 23, 2014
— Melinda Simon (@melindasimonsea) April 23, 2014
8:38 AM: Found out they started the day off West Seattle pretty early – James was watching them off Fauntleroy in the 6 am hour! Meantime, another photo tweeted from the Water Taxi vicinity (Seacrest Boathouse/Pier, 1660 Harbor SW, in case you are new in the area):
— KellyD (@kdbokay) April 23, 2014
— Russ Walker (@russ_walker) April 23, 2014
9:36 AM: Thanks again to everyone who has tweeted, e-mailed, texted/called (206-293-6302 any time), Facebooked – speaking of which, Melinda posted video of the orcas off Beach Drive; not embeddable, unfortunately, but here’s a direct link to see it on FB.
A wild sight outside West Seattle’s PCC Natural Markets (WSB sponsor) store on Monday – a honeybee swarm! (Thanks to K for the photo.) This reminds us that it’s the season for a reminder – If you spot a bee swarm, don’t panic about them, don’t poison them, don’t even spray them with water – check out this info from the Washington State Beekeepers’ Association, and then this page from the Puget Sound Beekeepers’ Association, which includes a link to this year’s list of beekeepers you can call to remove the swarm (which is what we’re told PCC did – called a beekeeper).
P.S. While checking those pages, we discovered that the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association’s monthly meeting is tonight (not in WS, but in case you’re a beekeeper and not already involved with them, thought we’d mention it given the timing).
P.P.S. Learn more about bees – and celebrate their vital role in our ecosystem – at the second annual West Seattle Bee Festival on May 4th; info here.
10:27 PM: Thanks to Kate Giannaros for sharing that photo of one of two orcas she reported seeing in Elliott Bay this afternoon. Lise also reported seeing one from the Water Taxi. Two transient male orcas have been seen around the area in recent days. P.S. See a whale? That’s breaking news – text or call our 24/7 hotline, 206-293-6302 – thank you!
ADDED 7:11 AM TUESDAY: Someone just did exactly that to report a sighting in The Arroyos this morning.
8:02 AM: Another text – northbound orcas by Alki Point.
8:57 AM: Guy and Kate (who shared the photo above) have both reported in recent minutes that the orcas are back in Elliott Bay! (And thanks to Carolyn Newman for the photo above this paragraph, also from the sighting yesterday.)
Don’t touch marine mammals! Reminder from Seal Sitters after troubling report of Lincoln Park incidentApril 21, 2014 at 1:08 pm | In West Seattle beaches, West Seattle news, Wildlife | 23 Comments
From Seal Sitters‘ Robin Lindsey:
Seal Sitters’ hotline received a call last evening that two women (with illegally
off leash dogs on the beach) at Lincoln Park picked up a harbor seal pup and moved the animal. By the time we received the call the pup had left the beach. Apparently there were a number of people who told the women it was the law to stay back and not touch the pup – information which they disregarded. The pup was close to our beach signage at the north end of the Park which also has the number of our stranding hotline.
Seal Sitters would like to remind people that all marine mammals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act which prohibits touching, feeding, moving and disturbance. Violations such as the one reported last night can be prosecuted by NOAA Office for Law Enforcement punishable with a substantial fine and, if the infraction is severe enough, jail time.
I personally find it hard to believe that an approximately 7 month old pup would allow anyone to pick him up unless he was sick or injured. This is all the more reason the women should have called Seal Sitters’ hotline at 206-905-7325 (SEAL) in case the animal needed to be transported to rehab for stabilization and treatment.
We have had an unusually quiet off season with very few weaned pups coming ashore. They are more often using the offshore platforms to rest – which is obviously much safer from harassment by people and dogs.
Harbor seal pupping season is just now beginning on the outer coast of Southern Washington and Northern Oregon. Please be aware as you walk coastal beaches and if you see a pup alone on the beach, stay back and give the animal space so the mom will not abandon her newborn.
Seal Sitters thanks the residents of West Seattle for their support in helping to keep marine mammals safe in our area. If you see a seal pup on the beach, please call our hotline immediately.
You love skyline-from-Duwamish-Head photos. You love bird photos. Now – thanks to Craig Howard – two in one! Couldn’t wait until tomorrow’s daily preview to share it, so while we work on a few more news stories, here it is. Craig was on the beach at low tide, and “a murder of crows sent this eagle down right in front of me. He hung around until the crows went away. Didn’t seem to mind me at all.”
(2011 photo of orcas in Elliott Bay, by Craig Savey)
The Whale Trail is hitting the road! West Seattleite Donna Sandstrom‘s vision of helping killer whales with education all along their routes is coming true with an upcoming tour – and you’re invited to the local sendoff at 6:30 pm next Thursday:
The endangered southern resident orca travel as far south as Monterey, CA. In May, The Whale Trail is headed down the Pacific Coast, too – we’re adding new Whale Trail sites in Monterey (Point Lobos), Santa Cruz, and San Francisco (Point Reyes)!
In May we’re also presenting noted author and marine conservationist Erich Hoyt in a series of talks around The Whale Trail, from Saturna, BC, to Monterey, CA, – nine locations in two countries and four states in 20 days – Orca Tour 2014!
Our vision of building awareness about the orcas throughout their range is quickly coming true – we need your help to make it happen!
Join us for a celebration and informal fundraising event for the Whale Trail, featuring light refreshments, no-host bar, and music by DJ Joe Ross!
–Music from or about California, from the Beach Boys to Los Lobos.
–Seal Sitters and “Diver Laura” James will also be there!
Thanks for your support these past six years, West Seattle. Help us celebrate, and take a giant next step for the orcas. Tickets available now at brownpapertickets.com. You can also buy tickets (at BPT) for our upcoming presentation with Erich Hoyt, Sunday, May 18, at McCaw Hall.
(Photo by Gary Jones, added 11:20 am)
9:34 AM: On Monday, we had a report of southbound orcas (and a photo too – thanks to the unidentified texter!); now, there’s word of orcas headed northbound along the east side of Vashon, which means they might soon be visible from here. Thanks to Alisa for letting us know about the report, which appeared on the Orca Network Facebook page.
9:46 AM UPDATE: Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail just called and reports “three to five” orcas in this group, approaching Lincoln Park.
11:20 AM UPDATE: Just back from a trip along Beach Drive and Alki – didn’t see the orcas ourselves, but Gary Jones saw them in the Alki Point vicinity and shared his first photo, above (thank you!).
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