West Seattle, Washington
11:58 AM: These ducks seem to be taking Urban Wildlife Week very seriously. The photo is from Cindi Barker, who is worried about their safety but hasn’t gotten any help/ideas so far – she has tried Seattle Animal Shelter and SPD’s non-emergency line. They are currently in the area behind O’Neill Plumbing (WSB sponsor) on California north of Fauntleroy.
12:13 PM: Update from Cindi: “They got away from me under fences . Last seen northbound 6000 block 42nd and possibly along alley. Godspeed!” So – beware of ducks.
P.S. It really is Urban Wildlife Week (here, Seattle Wildlife Week).
Our area’s precious green spaces can’t be taken for granted. In realization of that, the Fauntleroy Watershed Stewardship Fund was announced earlier this month, and we have an update from creek steward Judy Pickens:
The fund to enable ongoing stewardship of Fauntleroy Creek and Fauntleroy Park now has $3,600 toward its initial goal of $30,000.
The Fauntleroy Watershed Council announced the fund on March 1 in the wake of ever-decreasing grant funding for restoring and maintaining Seattle’s natural areas. EarthCorps, an international conservation training program, is accepting tax-deductible donations on behalf of the council and its trainees will do the lion’s share of the work that’s funded.
“This early response is greatly encouraging,” said Peggy Cummings, a member of the council’s executive committee. “Our main concern is being able to maintain restoration already done at public expense so those investments aren’t lost.”
Ensuring that the creek is safe for students is a particular focus for donations. Volunteers will be hosting 19 salmon releases starting April 27, which will bring an estimated 750 students to the watershed.
Find out more about the fund at the council’s table at Tuesday night’s Fauntleroy Food Fest, 6 pm in the Hall at Fauntleroy, or at www.fauntleroywatershed.org.
The FFF is the Fauntleroy Community Association‘s annual membership meeting – community members are invited to enjoy tastings from local restaurants, to find out more about what’s going on in the community – with a multitude of groups (like the Watershed Council) and agencies participating – and to renew FCA membership. (The Hall is at 9131 California SW.)
Lots of nature fans in WSB-land. If you’re among them, this volunteer opportunity from Seattle Audubon just might be something you would enjoy:
Help Sanislo and Lafayette students have FUN!
Finding Urban Nature (FUN) is Seattle Audubon’s free environmental education program in Seattle Public Elementary Schools. The program needs volunteers at Sanislo and Lafayette Elementary Schools for lessons in April and May.
FUN introduces 3rd and 4th grade students to the nature in their own schoolyard habitat, and examines how each organism depends on others to survive. Volunteers lead small groups of four to six students through a series of outdoor investigations, which teach kids to use their senses and scientific practices to discover the importance of urban biodiversity firsthand.
Volunteers devote about two hours a week for four weeks to lead 4-6 students through each lesson, with the support of the school’s FUN Team Leader and classroom teachers. No previous teaching or science background is necessary. Training is provided and a background check is required.
FUN trainings are held at the end of March and in early April. Contact Wendy at FUNvolunteer@seattleaudubon.org or call 206-523-8243 ext. 110 if interested.
1:14 PM: More sightings at sea – this time, whales! Thanks to Kersti Muul for letting us know that orcas are on the west side of the Sound, passing Blake Island, headed southbound. So if you go look – bring good binoculars.
1:40 PM: In a comment below, Jen says it appears they’re turning west, toward Southworth.
(Orcas seen with West Seattle in background, 2009 photo by Terry Wittman)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“Our theme for this year is matching our learning with action,” says The Whale Trail‘s executive director Donna Sandstrom.
She made that declaration toward the start of her West Seattle-based, but far-ranging, organization’s latest event, an educational/social/inspirational gathering at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) a month and a half ago. The featured topic was the salmon on which Southern Resident Killer Whales – our region’s endangered resident orcas – depend. How to help ensure their survival, and that of the SRKWs, was the focus of guest Jeanette Dorner, executive director of the Mid-Sound Fisheries Enhancement Group, speaking to TWT for the third time. Dorner said she has been working for 20 years to restore salmon in Puget Sound, starting with a salmon stream along her parents’ property in Pierce County.
The orcas eat salmon that come from all over the region, so “what we can do … there’s a seed of hope in that,” Sandstrom said. “It may take decades to take down a dam,” but there’s other action that can be done right now. She shared views of whales and salmon – which have “been in the news a lot lately.” Mainstream media coverage can leave people a bit confused and without context about the biggest issues facing salmon here, she warned. “Many people are not aware that we have a federal recovery plan for Puget Sound salmon,” Dorner noted. “We have a road map in the salmon recovery plan … there’s a chapter for every watershed.” She said the plan wasn’t written by “a bunch of NOAA scientists in a back room,” it was written with assistance of communities. The Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed Chinook Salmon Conservation Plan has a 10-year update, in fact.
Her main focus: Habitat. That’s what affects salmon the most, she said.
Mike e-mailed to say he’s called it in, and he advises that people and pets keep their distance. He saw the raccoon, appearing “severely injured” as he described it, on SW Dakota between 47th and 49th SW. Here’s what the Seattle Animal Shelter (aka “animal control”) says about injured/ill wildlife. Other animal-involved situations? Info here.
1:12 PM: Thanks to Kersti Muul and Alisa Lemire Brooks for updates on two groups of orcas that have been in the Central Sound so far today (including one group that veered westward into Kitsap County waters). Kersti just texted to say that she “has eyes on” one group right now, northbound between Blake Island and Bainbridge Island, visible from Alki Point and vicinity, but on the west side of the Sound, so you’ll need good binoculars. She says a “large male” is in the lead.
3:03 PM: Kersti says the whales “have disappeared” from view.
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.
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!
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.
We’ve reported before on SR3 – Sealife 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.)
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.
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.
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.