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Orca J14 is missing: One of Puget Sound’s Southern Resident Killer Whales hasn’t been seen in 3 weeks

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(Photo by Dave Ellifrit)

The Center for Whale Research just announced that one of Puget Sound’s endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales is missing:

J14, a 42-year old female in J pod, is considered missing. Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research last saw her on July 31. Center for Whale Research staff members have since had three on-the-water encounters with the rest of her matriline but she was not present.

J14, also known as Samish – named by the Samish Tribe – was born in 1974, the first year Dr. Mike Bigg, commissioned by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, started studying the Southern Resident killer whales. She has three living offspring: daughters J37 and J40 and son J45; she is also grandmother to J37’s calf J49. J14 is the only known daughter of J12 and a possible descendant of J2.  

CWR staff member Melisa Pinnow last photographed J14 from shore on August 3rd. When last seen in July, J14 gave no indication of being sick or otherwise unhealthy.

We will wait to have one more definitive encounter with the J14’s before recording her as indeed deceased.

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YOU CAN HELP: Volunteer meeting tomorrow for The Whale Trail; run, or help with, the Orca Half next month

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(Southern Resident Killer Whale breaching in Puget Sound last November – photo by M. Sears, permit #16163)

Get some more joy into your life – the joy of helping. Donna Sandstrom from West Seattle-headquartered The Whale Trail has two ways to suggest:

The Whale Trail is hosting a Volunteer Meeting tomorrow [Tuesday] night at C & P Coffee in West Seattle [5612 California SW] from 6:30 to 8:30. We’ll be planning for the Orca Half/Seattle Summer Parkways, our next season of Orca Talks, and more! A great chance to meet other orca enthusiasts, and put your passion to work for the whales! Learn more and RSVP at Brown Paper Tickets.com. Hope to see you there!

PLUS:

Run, Walk or Volunteer for the Whales and The Whale Trail! The Whale Trail is the beneficiary of the Orca Half, a half-marathon in West Seattle on September 25! We’ll also be participating in Seattle Summer Parkways, 11 to 4 on the same day.

–We need help handing out water at the water tables 9:00 to 1, and staffing our booth at Seattle Summer Parkways from 11 to 4.

–To help with the water tables, sign up at orcahalf.com, and tell them you’re with the Whale Trail! Join us tomorrow at C & P to learn more, or get in touch with Donna – donna@thewhaletrail.org206-919-5397

P.S. We notice on the Orca Half website that it has participation capped at 500 runners and is up to 439 signups as of this writing – so if you’ve been procrastinating, time to get going.

YOU CAN HELP! RSVP for Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network training

(Photo by Robin Lindsey)

Volunteer work … on the beach. Doesn’t get much better than that. Especially when it involves helping marine mammals and helping people learn about them. So here’s your chance! From Robin Lindsey @ Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which deals with more than seals:

We still have some spaces left for our Saturday, August 27th, Seal Sitters new volunteer training, held from 10 am-12:30 pm – see the details here.

Anyone interested must RSVP at the link above to ensure a seat. We welcome new volunteers and do encourage children to join the group, since they can learn to be environmental stewards and be empowered with protecting marine life.

We are definitely in the throes of harbor-seal pupping season now and it has certainly been an interesting season thus far with numerous seal pups, as well as the sad stranding of the humpback whale. Just (Wednesday) we had a report of a pup on the beach steps at Alki, but the pup didn’t linger long and left right before our responder arrived.

As always, if anyone sees a seal pup – or other marine mammal – on the beach or in trouble offshore, please call Seal Sitters hotline @ 206-905-SEAL (7325). Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network is a partner in NOAA’s West Coast MMSN and responds to reports of all marine mammals, dead or alive.

P.S. Here’s one of the seals guarded by SSMMSN recently – Robert Spears sent the photo from last week:

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He says SSMMSN was there not only keeping the perimeter but also educating passersby.

West Seattle wildlife: Luna Park seal sighting

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While we work on a couple more news stories for tonight, how about a photo break? Mark Wangerin – who you know primarily for his amazing bird photos, often shared with us so we can show them to you – sent these images, explaining: “I was down at Luna Park trying to shoot Osprey diving, when this little pup attempted to haul out and get warm. After a few tries, it was successful. It rested and yawned, but its rest was soon disturbed by a ferry wave. It gave up on this spot and went to the sandier side of the pier. I had to remind a few not to disturb. That they need to haul out to warm themselves.”

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We asked Mark if he had notified Seal Sitters (which handle, as we were reminded during Sunday’s Fauntleroy humpback stranding, ALL marine mammals in the area); he said he didn’t have a phone with him, and said the seal was soon out of sight. By the way, checking Seal Sitters’ Blubberblog, we see they’re having a volunteer-training session on August 27th – go here to RSVP if you’re interested.

FAUNTLEROY WHALE FOLLOWUP: Humpback’s final journey tomorrow; what researchers are saying tonight

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(WSB photo @ Fauntleroy ferry dock this morning)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The humpback whale that stranded and died south of the Fauntleroy ferry dock on Sunday will spend one more night tied to floats nearby.

We covered the rescue, and then research, work all day and into Sunday evening – here’s our as-it-happened coverage, and here’s the photo/video gallery we published early today.

Tomorrow morning, West Seattle-headquartered Global Diving and Salvage will send a vessel and crew to Fauntleroy to take the 39-foot juvenile female humpback on her final journey.

We talked tonight with Global vice president David DeVilbiss, who said they got the notification around midday today to “go ahead and take care of the whale” – too late to finalize logistics and make it happen before tomorrow morning.

He says they’re likely to use the Prudhoe Bay, which gets a spotlight each summer as it delivers the Seafair Pirates to Alki Beach. That’s also what Global used to tow away the fin whale that washed up at Seahurst Park in Burien three years ago. While it was taken to a relatively remote spot to decompose, this whale will be sunk in an unspecified area of Puget Sound that’s approved for the procedure.

DeVilbiss says that “involves towing it out and weighing it down with benign weights – basically, concrete blocks,” then cutting it loose to sink. It’s not as simple as it might sound – the whale’s carcass bloats with gases, so they’ll need to make sure the weights are enough that it won’t just float back up again.

No specific time is set for the tow – the crew will start work relatively early, preparing the boat and materials, before heading to Fauntleroy.

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One more followup – the newest information on the investigation into why the whale died. Here’s what Cascadia Research Collective, whose biologists John Calambokidis and Jessie Huggins were among the experts and responders on the beach, is saying so far. They report that the “limited necropsy” done at the beach “revealed poor nutritional condition, multiple internal parasites, and internal injuries associated with the beaching event. The animal also had some killer whale bite marks on the jaw, and killer whales had been reported in the area the previous day. Samples will be submitted for a variety of analyses to determine if there were any other conditions that contributed to the stranding.”

This was the first time a whale had stranded on a West Seattle beach in six years, since the gray whale – also a juvenile female – that died in The Arroyos in April 2010. While her exact cause of death was not determined, the necropsy drew worldwide attention for turning up plastics and other trash in her stomach (here’s that report, also from Cascadia Research).

AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: Humpback whale strands, dies south of Fauntleroy ferry dock

(SUNDAY NIGHT TOPLINE: Juvenile humpback whale stranded and died this morning south of Fauntleroy ferry dock, towed off beach this evening, to be sunk Monday)


(Video added 9:24 – you can hear the whale still trying to breathe)

FIRST REPORT, 7:58 AM: In just the past few minutes, we’ve received multiple messages about what people describe as a whale in trouble south of the Fauntleroy ferry dock.
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One texter says Washington State Ferries has contacted NOAA; before that, we advised the first person to contact Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which deals with more than seals, at 206-905-SEAL. Some have texted images including the photo and video above. On our way for a firsthand look.

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8:27 AM: We’ve just arrived at the dock, as has Robin Lindsey of Seal Sitters. This is definitely a humpback whale – Robin describes it as juvenile. It’s raised its fluke out of the water and has been heard trying to breathe, but it’s in very shallow water. Photo added. The tide is going out – we’re an hour past the highest tide of the day already. It can still be heard breathing, loud chugging sounds. We can’t recall a stranded whale in West Seattle since the gray whale that died in The Arroyos in 2010.

8:43 AM: Robin says cetacean experts are on the way. Since the tide is going out, volunteers will guard the beach and as the tide goes out, will use buckets and towels to keep the whale hydrated if needed. It’s definitely still alive – it spouted a few minutes ago and we could feel the spray.

9:27 AM: The whale is still breathing – we’ve added a short video clip atop this story. The fence along the ferry-dock walkway is lined with spectators.

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We’ve also talked with Jeff Hogan of Killer Whale Tales, a local whale researcher who we first met at the Arroyos whale stranding six years ago. He also told us that Cascadia and NOAA are on the way.

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If you come to this area, please remember that the beach south of the ferry dock is private. There might be a call for volunteers later, if needed to keep this massive animal – a juvenile, but still massive – hydrated, so check back. We’ll be here for the duration. A WSF employee tells us she first saw it around 6:40, almost an hour before we started getting tips.

9:43 AM: As the water gets shallower, more of the whale’s head is visible, and its fluke is at the surface. Haven’t heard it breathe for a while now, sorry to say.

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10:08 AM: Hogan and another whale expert are out with the humpback now, pouring water on it to keep it hydrated. (Video:)


We still haven’t heard it breathe for a while.

10:38 AM: Another view, from the beach:

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We have crews both on the beach and on the dock. On the beach, NOAA tells us they’re still evaluating the situation and what to do next. For an overview of where this is happening – from the upper Fauntleroy Way bluff east of the dock, you can see the spectators and the entirety of the ferry dock:

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The agencies/organizations on hand now include NOAA, Cascadia Research Collective (their stranding coordinator Jessie Huggins), MAST, as well as Seal Sitters and Killer Whale Tales.

10:56 AM: Sad news from our crew on the beach. Jessie from Cascadia says the whale has died, probably within the past half-hour. What happens next, has yet to be decided; when the gray whale stranded and died in The Arroyos in 2010, it was eventually towed away for a necropsy.

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11:09 AM: More of the whale is becoming visible (photo above) as the tide continues to go out (low tide is at 2:29 pm, not a major low-low tide, it’ll be 2.0 feet).

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Meantime, it’s raining, which has thinned the spectator crowd.

11:50 AM: On the beach, the experts/responders are continuing to strategize what to do next, who is available to help, and other logistics.

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“We’re formulating a plan.”

12:12 PM: Cascadia Research Collective’s website includes a report on a June humpback death in Bremerton. It includes some context on these whales’ presence in Puget Sound, increasing in recent years. Meantime, researchers and responders plan to measure it soon. Among those represented here is MaST, which received the skeleton of the Arroyos gray whale.

12:38 PM UPDATE: Measuring it now. 11.9 meters long – about 30 feet. The measurements are in painstaking detail – each fin, each eye, etc.

1:04 PM UPDATE: Now on to tissue samples, to start the process of figuring out what led this whale to strand and die.

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Low tide won’t bottom out for another hour and a half, so they have lots of time to work.

1:45 PM UPDATE: Just talked extensively with Lynne Barre from NOAA Fisheries and John Calambokidis of Cascadia. Here’s the video (low-res since we’re in the field):

Main points: The whale is bigger and older than first suspected – now they’re saying 39 feet long, and a few years old – still a juvenile, as reproduction begins around 5 years of age. They don’t know yet whether it’s female or male, nor have logistics decisions about its disposition been made. As we mentioned earlier in the story, Cascadia notes that humpbacks are becoming more common sights again in Puget Sound – and that’s part of dramatic population growth up and down the West Coast. This one, they say, clearly was emaciated, and that’s the flip side of the dramatic population growth – more whales seeking food.

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P.S. Washington State Ferries asked us to remind you to please help them keep traffic flowing as they get to Sunday afternoon peak ridership/traffic here at Fauntleroy – if you’re watching from the fence on the dock, leave room for passengers to come and go; if you’re driving off the boat, please don’t slow down to gawk (we’ve seen a lot of that). WSF might also wind up helping move the whale – they’re checking around to see what kind of equipment they might have available at Eagle Harbor.

2:50 PM: Beachfront homeowners loaned volunteers and responders shovels so they could dig under the fins a bit, to prepare for floating the whale off on the evening high tide.

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(The blue-shirted volunteer in our photo is David Hutchinson from Seal Sitters, a frequent WSB photo contributor.) Orange buoys are being secured to it, as well. And Robin from Seal Sitters tells us they’re finally getting close to figuring out vessel(s) that will be able to help get this off the beach at high tide tonight.

3:14 PM UPDATE: WSF’s Hadley Rodero is here on the beach and tells us they’re sending a team to help, with a vessel, so they can assist in getting the whale floated off the beach; it will be secured to the terminal overnight, which gives Cascadia/NOAA/etc. some time to figure out where to take it after that.

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Obviously WSF has a stake in this because if not attended to, it could just float into the path of their vessels. Their team is not likely to arrive before 5 pm or so.

3:44 PM: New developments: For one, “Diver Laura” James is here with her 360-degree setup, to get a better look at the scene. (We’ll share her images when available.)

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For two, the biologists/responders have decided to do some necropsy work right here, right now – they’re focused on the side that is not so visible from the dock – where there’s already been more extensive sampling (removal of part of its eye, for example) – but if you’re squeamish, this is not the time to come sightsee. This line of spectators apparently is not:

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We by the way will put together a gallery tonight with many additional photos.

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The experts/responders tell us they will decide tomorrow whether to sink the whale or tow it away for more necropsy work.

4:55 PM: The whale is female – the necropsy team found an ovary.

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6:12 PM: The “shore gang” from WS Ferries has just arrived. (Thanks to WSF for the photo above – we’re still on the beach too but their photo’s better than ours.) With high tide approaching – 11.2 feet just after 9 pm – the whale is now fully back in the water again.


6:40 PM: John from Cascadia has been on and next to the whale (video above), securing it to some large floats brought by the WSF crew.

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On shore, we’ve been talking with Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail, who, like other marine-mammal advocates here, has spent the day answering questions from so many curious people – the humpback will have an educational legacy, at the very least. The Seal Sitters volunteers/responders who have been here since early this morning also say the chance for so many people to learn more about whales has been important.

7 PM: As we Periscoped live (see the video above), the WSF crew has towed the whale over to the dock, where it will remain, tied to buoys and the dock, overnight. Tomorrow, NOAA tells us, the whale will be towed further out and sunk – there are designated spots where that’s allowable under state law, maybe as close as Blake Island, but they won’t decide until tomorrow. Now everyone who’s spent the day on the beach – researchers, responders, advocates, and local residents – is packing up; the Seal Sitters have taken down the beach-blockade tape. We have many more photos and are planning a separate gallery later with the toplines of this full day of coverage; thanks again to the people who let us know first thing this morning what they were seeing, almost 12 hours ago now.

(EARLY MONDAY NOTE: Sorry that the comments section on this closed itself around mid-afternoon Sunday – we’ve been unable to reopen it. But we published a separate photo-gallery followup that seems to be working properly, if you have something to say.)

West Seattle whale watching: Spouting off Alki Beach

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Thanks to Dja for tweeting that photo from Alki with an unmistakable spout in view – if you’re in the area, keep watch for possible sunset sightings of whale(s). Transient orcas have been in central Puget Sound today, according to Orca Network spotters, so the spout might be from one of them. (Some were in Elliott Bay earlier today – see photos here.)

West Seattle wildlife: Seal dies after apparent dog attack

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The photo and report are just in, from Robin Lindsey of West Seattle-based Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network:

I have very sad and troubling news to report.

Seal Sitters rescued a juvenile seal from the beach last Wednesday, the apparent victim of an attack by an off-leash dog. First Responder Lynn and I noticed the seal had puncture wounds on the throat as she rested at Constellation Park near the seawall. The pup returned to the water shortly afterwards, but was reported later in the day on a private beach just south of Harbor West Condos. We captured the small female and transported her to PAWS in Lynnwood, where sadly she died overnight. The necropsy exam revealed that the punctures were larger and “less professional” than that of a coyote. For more details and photos (go here).

I have attached the photo that was in my blogpost – it’s the best image by far, in that it shows puncture wounds and beautiful face of the young seal. What a tragic loss in West Seattle, where residents treasure the wildlife that shares our neighborhoods and beaches. We hope this will be a wakeup call to those dog owners who blatantly disregard leash laws.

If anyone has any information about a skirmish between a dog and seal sometime between Monday and Wednesday, please contact Seal Sitters (sealsitters@icloud.com).

This already had been a much-slower pup-sighting season than usual on West Seattle beaches. Any time you see a seal (or other marine mammal) on shore – or if you think one is in distress offshore – the Seal Sitters hotline is 206-905-SEAL.

Seal-pup season finally arrives on West Seattle’s shore

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For the first time this seal-pup season, Seal Sitters have had a West Seattle visitor to protect. We mentioned this briefly in our coverage of the Alki Art Fair‘s second day; we stopped by the Seal Sitters booth near the Alki Bathhouse, and asked volunteers David and Eilene Hutchinson if the group still hadn’t had any local pup reports. In fact, they told us, the first one of the season had happened the day before – someone came up to the booth on Saturday and reported a seal pup on Alki Beach, near the volleyball courts. It went back into the water just after 9 pm.

A pup also turned up on Sunday, at some point after we talked to the Hutchinsons; we don’t know if it was the same one – we’re checking – but we have the photo courtesy of Andrea Howell. And it’s a chance for us to remind you about what to do and what NOT to do if you see a seal pup: Don’t get close to it – that’s not just a request, but federal law. Don’t touch it. Do report it to a marine-mammal stranding network so they can keep watch – in the West Seattle area, that’s Seal Sitters, and their hotline is 206-905-SEAL. Complete information on pupping season and best beach behavior is here.

West Seattle whales: Humpbacks reported to be passing

July 23, 2016 7:59 pm
|    Comments Off on West Seattle whales: Humpbacks reported to be passing
 |   Seen at sea | West Seattle news | Wildlife

Just in from Leslie Dierauf in the 3600 block of Beach Drive:

At least 2 humpback whales are cruising north on the far side of the deepwater channel. Their blows are big and straight in the air. They have small dorsal fins and are displaying their flukes. COOOOOL.

Here’s The Whale Trail‘s quick guide to humpbacks.

West Seattle whales: Orcas in the area

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Thanks to Venkat for the photo – he spotted orcas off Colman Pool after 5 pm today; checking the Orca Network Facebook page, we verified that’s a research boat in the photo. A recent comment there had them passing Three Tree Point in Burien just before 6 – but we still have more than two hours of daylight, so if you’re by the water, keep watch, as they might head back this way. Let us know if you see them – 206-293-6302 – thanks!

West Seattle wildlife: Dolphins show off for Water Taxi riders

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10:09 AM: We’ve received multiple reports that West Seattle Water Taxi riders enjoyed a porpoise show this morning! The photos are from Bob Michaels (above) and from Nick Hesterberg (below). And we have details from Adam Aljets: “A great showing of half dozen porpoises on the 8:45 am water taxi. They swam directly up to our boat. We stopped and even circled back around to see them again.”

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Identification help welcome; harbor porpoises are the ones most commonly seen in Puget Sound.

10:38 AM: Annika reports in comments that these are “common dolphins,” and the ID info online seems to correlate. They’re usually seen in warmer waters further south, but we’re finding online reports including this one from Port Angeles in June.

VIDEO: Fauntleroy’s goose family, seen before tragedy struck

(UPDATED SUNDAY with commenters’ reports that, sometime after this was recorded, two of the goslings were hit and killed)

ORIGINAL REPORT, 9:37 PM: This family of five is popular. We keep getting photos and texts about sightings of the Fauntleroy white geese and their goslings, and it’s clear they are roaming on both sides of Fauntleroy Way in the ferry dock/Lincoln Park area, so we renew the alert: Please be careful in the area. Last weekend we shared a reader’s photo-story about people helping them cross the busy road, and tonight, this video came in from another reader. Sorry to say, some of what we’ve heard about hasn’t been anywhere near heartwarming – reports of a woman kicking one of them at the Cove Park beach, and of an unleashed dog going after them – note they’re fairly slow-moving, and be their angel if you see them in danger (as others have been over the years).

ADDED SUNDAY AFTERNOON: After we published this video – recorded Saturday morning, sent to us Saturday night – commenters said they’d seen only one gosling with the geese later in the day. Now another commenter reports two of them were hit and killed. If anyone can tell us more about what happened, please e-mail us at editor@westseattleblog.com – thank you.

LATER SUNDAY AFTERNOON: Another commenter has posted more information.

VIDEO: 360 degrees, undersea, with Diver Laura

A new way to see undersea! “Diver Laura” James is shooting with 360-degree video equipment and shares two clips with us. You can benefit from the full-surround perspective by putting your cursor in the video and clicking/dragging it around, to look up, down, all around. Above, she was off Constellation Park with jellyfish; below – in the Alki Pipeline shallows with perch:

If you have any trouble with fully exploring the clips via the embedded versions above, their YouTube pages are here (jellyfish) and here (perch).

West Seattle whales: Orca sightings

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(Photos by Dan Ciske, added 10:30 am)

7:12 AM: Thanks to Laurie for e-mailing to report a sighting of two orcas, southbound off Emma Schmitz Overlook around 6:47 am. This would be the second day of sightings in central Puget Sound – Trileigh tipped us to this Orca Network discussion Monday, but to our knowledge they didn’t turn up right off West Seattle.

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10:30 AM: Thanks to Dan Ciske for sending photos taken about an hour ago from the Seattle-Bainbridge ferry!

12:46 PM: Two recent comments (thank you!) indicate orcas are heading northbound past West Seattle shores.

1:29 PM: Still out there! Just in from Norman Sigler via Twitter:


West Seattle wildlife: Caution, Fauntleroy goose family crossing!


Last Sunday, our daily preview included the first photo we’d seen of Fauntleroy’s famous white geese and their babies. We didn’t know if they were roaming or ensconced somewhere – but apparently it’s the former, as Eric just sent these photos showing how he and neighbors took care to herd the family safely across Fauntleroy Way by the ferry dock. If you go through that area, PLEASE be extra careful! You can see Eric’s photos – and read the captions – by clicking the Steller image above, and then using the arrows that are toward the center of the display that should open after that.

YOU CAN HELP! How to be an ‘Otter Spotter’

(WSB photo, July 2012)

Whenever you see an otter in West Seattle – it’s a river otter, not a sea otter, even if you see it splashing and diving in saltwater Puget Sound. Here’s how to do more than just gawk at them:

Woodland Park Zoo is reaching out to the community to become otter spotters to help collect information on North American river otters, which are virtually unstudied in Washington waters.

Anyone can participate in the new community science project and become an otter spotter. Information and an otter spotter form can be found at www.zoo.org/conservation/otterspotter. Otter spotter tips and etiquette, and how to distinguish a river otter from a sea otter are included.

“This is a great opportunity for our community to get directly involved in science in our backyard. The more reports of sightings we can collect, the more data we’ll have on the range and behavior of river otters,” said Michelle Wainstein, Ph.D., a local ecologist and conservationist, and the field scientist for the project.

The zoo also is launching a new field study, River Otters of Western Washington: Sentinels of Ecological Health, which will focus on otter population biology and the contaminant loads in their scat along the length of the Green-Duwamish River. This river in particular traverses a diverse mosaic of habitats, including wildlands and parks; agricultural, industrial and residential areas; and the highly contaminated Lower Duwamish Waterway.

The Green River flows from undeveloped Washington wildlands through increasingly urbanized areas to become the Duwamish River—Seattle’s major industrial corridor since the early 1900s. According to Wainstein, river otters are an important species in aquatic ecosystems because they can serve as sentinels, telling us about the health of their local environment. Wainstein and the project team hope to determine if river otters are found along the entire 80-plus miles of this important waterway. …

North American river otters are amphibious members of the weasel family and live in water systems all over Washington state. Their habitat ranges over most of North America in coastal areas, estuaries, freshwater lakes, streams and rivers. Otters prey on what is readily available and easiest to catch, with a primary diet of fish, crayfish, amphibians and birds.

All otter species are considered threatened while five of the 13 species are endangered due to water pollution, overfishing of commercial stock and habitat destruction. …

PHOTOS: Baby Orca Birthday Bash @ Alki Bathhouse

June 5, 2016 3:49 pm
|    Comments Off on PHOTOS: Baby Orca Birthday Bash @ Alki Bathhouse
 |   Fun stuff to do | West Seattle news | Wildlife

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3:49 PM: The orca baby boom of the past year and a half is getting a proper celebration right now at Alki Bathhouse – with birthday cakes! Ella’s Cakes has just been announced as first-place winner, followed by Hot Cakes and BAKED. The Baby Orca Birthday Bash is on until 5 – get down here for more fun including Orca Bingo with The Whale Trail! June is Orca Awareness Month, so you can keep celebrating beyond today – and learning, too, which is a big part of what this event is about:

That’s just one educational point – without salmon, the Southern Resident Killer Whales won’t survive.

9:45 PM: A few more photos – first, our West Seattle-based orca advocates, Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail:

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And Jeff Hogan from Killer Whale Tales:

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Outside the bathhouse, Mike the inflatable orca, aka J29:

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For more on Orca Awareness Month – go here.

West Seattle scene: Feathered pedestrians on Admiral Way

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Thanks to Marco for sharing the scene from Admiral Way, when a mallard mom and ducklings got some help making it across the street just west of 42nd SW. Marco adds, “Props to the guy who was keeping them safe in traffic!” A closer look:

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(We can’t quite guess where mom was headed – Hiawatha? – or coming from, for that matter – can you?)

West Seattle birds: Eagles vs. ospreys

Two Alki photographers have noticed the local raptors clashing, and shared photos. First, from David Hutchinson:

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David writes:

On arriving at Jack Block Park … Eilene & I noticed a few crows dive-bombing the area above the elevated viewing platform. We thought that this behavior might indicate the presence of an eagle, so decided to walk out on the dock to check things out. About half way there, a bald eagle flew out from behind the trees and headed toward Salty’s. We thought we’d missed our chance, but when we got out on the dock, there was still one eagle sitting up at the top of the structure. He/she didn’t seem that much bothered by the crows and engaged in grooming periodically.

When an osprey arrived overhead the eagle became much more agitated and soon flew off to the top of one of the more distant, tall light standards in Terminal 5, followed by the osprey. There they engaged in a brief battle before the osprey moved on toward the nesting area south of the high bridge.

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During their confrontation the osprey would dive bomb from above while the eagle would throw itself upward and turn upside down so its extended talons were pointed toward the oncoming osprey.

Second, from Gary Jones, frequent observer of these big birds’ Alki Point hangout:

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If you can’t tell on your screen – the osprey in Gary’s photo has a fish in its beak. Find out more about them, and hear them, via this BirdWeb link; here’s the corresponding link for bald eagles.

NEXT SUNDAY: Baby Orca Birthday Bash!

May 29, 2016 1:30 pm
|    Comments Off on NEXT SUNDAY: Baby Orca Birthday Bash!
 |   Fun stuff to do | West Seattle news | Wildlife

A free, first-of-its-kind event is one week away, and you’re invited: The Baby Orca Birthday Bash, next Sunday (June 5th) at the Alki Bathhouse, 2-5 pm. It’s the kickoff to Orca Month as well as a celebration of all the orca calves born to Puget Sound’s Southern Resident Killer Whales in the past year and a half. The plans include:

*Orca storytelling by West Seattle-based Killer Whale Tales
*Orca bingo with prizes by West Seattle-based The Whale Trail
*Orca birthday cakes that you get to judge, with cakes donated by bakers including West Seattle’s Stuffed Cakes and BAKED
*Live music
*Face painting
*Orca hat and fin making
*Sammy the Salmon and Mike the Inflatable Orca
*Photo booth
*Free tote bags for the first 100 people to arrive

This promises to be both fun and educational, presented by the Orca Salmon Alliance, which highlights the fact that not only are our local orcas endangered, so are the fish they need to survive – and the more we learn about how to help them, the better their chances of survival.

Beware of the birds! 3 reader reports from north West Seattle

You know we love birds and are honored to receive beautiful photos to share here several times a week. But – on occasion, birds can be dangerous too, especially in nesting season, and we have three recent reports to share. First one is just in from Greg:

I wanted to give a heads up to anyone that runs or walks on Fairmount (Ave) about an aggressive owl.

Last night around dusk I was running when I felt something on my head and realized an owl had clawed me. It hovered above and made a few more swipes. I scared it off and then about 100 yards later it swooped again, clawing the back of my head. I didn’t see any blood but it feels like I have a scratch – hard to tell under my hair.

It was white, possibly a barred owl – a white, beautiful bird. It was silent as it approached. The incident happened downhill of where Admiral street crosses over – basically half way between the bridge underpass and the homes on the road.

I’ve heard owls like this will repeat the behavior, so I want to make sure people are aware.

Carl reported the same thing recently:

I normally go jogging around 8-9 at night. This might I was running down Fairmount ravine in the dark when something sharp clawed my head. This was north of the Admiral Way overpass. The owl would not let go for at least 50 meters and I had to shine a light in his face for him not to attack me. He tried several more times to dive bomb me.

The ravine is not far, by the way, from where Rose reported an attack along Harbor Avenue two months ago.

Our third report: A crow got aggressive outside the West Seattle (Admiral) Library one morning this week, reported by Karin:

Have you heard about a territorial crow at the West Seattle library? I put some books in the book drop … and a crow attacked me. It followed me to Met Market, cawing and diving at me. It didn’t touch me, but it certainly scared me! I’m wondering if it was me or if I just got too close to a nest. Either way, I’m avoiding the library for a while…

From the state’s excellent Living With Wildlife series, here’s information about dive-bombing crows, and a similar note about owls.

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