If you have eyes on Elliott Bay, watch for spouts. Ian reports via Twitter that he’s seen multiple spouts by an unknown type of whale that’s “made a huge circle of the bay.” (P.S. Our most recent sighting report was last Sunday, humpbacks near Alki Point.)
Two photos shared by your neighbors:
That’s from Don Brubeck, who writes, “Lots of people fishing from the bridge on Spokane St. Not me – I had to keep going, riding to work.” (Don is president of West Seattle Bike Connections, which meets tonight, as noted in our daily calendar highlights.) Next, from TS:
He writes, “Just a nice coho caught off Lincoln Park on Sunday afternoon. Fun to share.” According to the state Fish and Wildlife month-by-month advice, that’s what’s peaking on inland waters this time of year.
(Photo by David Hutchinson: Seattle Parks’ James Lohman installing a banner)
Along the heart of Alki Beach, near the Bathhouse, “Share the Shore” banners are up as a reminder – it’s peak pupping season and if you see a baby seal, keep clear and notify Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network, 206-905-SEAL – Here’s how Robin Lindsey explains it:
The banners are hung annually during September and October to remind people that there is a good chance they might come across a harbor seal pup resting on shore. These Fall months are usually Seal Sitters MMSN’s busiest time and is considered the height of pupping season in West Seattle and surrounding areas. Some pups are now being weaned all across South and Central Puget Sound and have begun to strike out on their own, leaving the safety of the rookeries. They often end up on urban beaches.
So, it is a good time to remind folks that if you see a pup on the beach: please stay far back, keep people and dogs away, and call your local stranding network. Allowing a pup to rest undisturbed could truly save his/her life. Because seal pups are so vulnerable as they struggle to survive, it is especially important that dog owners respect the law this time of year. Dogs are NOT allowed on Parks beaches leashed or unleashed at any time. It is a fact that each year in Puget Sound, dogs injure and/or kill harbor seal pups.
For marine mammals on West Seattle shoreline, please call Seal Sitters MMSN @ 206-905-SEAL (7325); in downtown Seattle and areas north, please call Sno-King MMSN @ 206-695-2277; for beaches south of Brace Point to Redondo Beach, please call MaST Center Stranding Team @ 206-724-2687.
When in doubt for what network to call, you can always give the Seal Sitters’ hotline a call and we will refer you to the right network. Additionally, here is a link to a map with contact numbers for NOAA’s Marine Mammal Stranding Networks in the Puget Sound region. There are links to maps for the entire states of Washington and Oregon here, as well.
We ask that boaters and kayakers be alert to the marine life around them. Seals of all ages will use often use offshore platforms, docks, buoys and marinas to rest. Harassment can have dire consequences. If you are out on the water and see yellow tape and cones on the beach, it means an animal is resting there. Please give seals (and sea lions) a wide berth so as not to disrupt their rest. Please respect NOAA guidelines and stay 100 yards away whenever possible.
It has been oddly quiet as far as marine mammal response the past two months, but we anticipate a big spike in responses soon. Seal Sitters is so thankful for the West Seattle community’s support in protecting wildlife!
Seal Sitters have been caring for local shores and sea life for eight years now – here’s our first story on them from September 2007, baby-seal video (via mega-zoom) and all.
Thanks to Guy and Joy Smith for the photo and this report:
At 9 o’clock this am, we saw 2 marine mammals traveling south off Alki Point. They were exhaling big clouds of steam and we knew they were too large to be either Harbor or Dall’s Porpoises. We grabbed our handy guide, handed out by the Whale Trail organization at the Bath House this summer, and it indicates they were probably Minke whales. They are in the 20 to 30 foot range and that’s about what we guessed. Wikipedia says their dives can be up to 20 minutes. If we had known to wait that long we might have gotten another picture.
Obviously Guy and Joy saw more than just this photo, so they were gauging by more than what’s seen in the photo, but the fin also looks like it could have been a humpback. Anyone else see these whales?
Three reports of orcas off our shores – most recently, just before 2:30 pm, off Beach Drive in the Me-Kwa-Mooks vicinity, headed southbound. As always, we hope you’ll let us know (comments or text/voice 206-293-6302) if you see them!
1:26 PM UPDATE: We looked from Constellation Park, around Duwamish Head and beyond, no sightings, and we’ve heard nothing further; checked the Orca Network as well, and assuming this is the group of “transient” killer whales their readers spotted, they have no further sightings either, with speculation the whales might have gone into Kitsap waters. Could turn up later!
Our latest sighting report is from Kristen, who saw one right about this time Monday:
I checked the blog and saw a posting from a few weeks ago that coyotes were heard in Schmitz Park. I heard them (Sunday) night as well. When I opened the door to go to the car at 5:30 am (Monday) morning, I saw one run down SW Forney Street and into the park. I walked my (large) dogs soon after and had no issues. I did want to report as there are neighbors in our area with small dogs and cats.
Remember – best thing to do if you see a coyote is to scare it away – it’s optimal for all involved if they remain wary of humans – as explained here.
(Photo by Robin Lindsey)
If you’ve thought about volunteering with Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network – here’s your chance – a training session two weeks from today:
SEAL SITTERS NEW VOLUNTEER TRAINING AUGUST 2015 SESSION
When: Saturday, August 15, 2015
Time: 10 am – 12:30 pm
Training starts promptly at 10 am (please arrive early: doors open for registration and paperwork at 9:30)
Help protect wildlife! Volunteer with Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network. On Saturday morning, August 15th, we will be holding a special training for those wanting to protect marine mammals along the shoreline of West Seattle and the Duwamish River. 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 Seal Sitters MMSN’s 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 Western Region Marine Mammal Stranding Network and biology and behavior of seals and other common pinnipeds.
FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT LOCATION AND TO RSVP, visit Seal Sitters’ event page.
*RSVP is required to assure seating.
Seal Sitters MMSN averages 200 responses each year to reports of marine mammals (large or small species, dead or alive) on the beach. 90% of those responses are to vulnerable harbor seal pups during our busiest time of year – late summer and fall. Pupping season is now underway in South Puget Sound and Seal Sitters has responded to 4 newborn pups since the end of May. We are happy to say that one of those pups, Little Dipper (abandoned and rescued from Lincoln Park) is doing well in rehab at PAWS Wildlife Center. Visit www.blubberblog.org to learn more about Little Dipper and Seal Sitters’ recent activities.
Please join us on August 15th and help ensure that seal pups and other marine mammals can rest safely on our beaches. Due to time constraints of volunteers during the height of pupping season in West Seattle (usually August – October), this will be our final training for this season until later in the Fall. We hope you can attend!
Our tipster in Sunrise Heights took this photo from a distance – which is good, as getting too close to a coyote isn’t good for them or you, not because of danger, but because you don’t want them to get acclimated to close human contact – so it’s a bit blurry, but they wanted you to know about the sighting earlier this afternoon, near 29th and Othello (map). To make sure you know what to do if you see a coyote, check out the coexistence advice from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Meantime, browse our coyote-report coverage over the years, newest to oldest, on these archive pages.
Just out of the WSB inbox from Bob:
I just wanted to let you know the coyotes in Schmitz Park have very vocal the past two nights. We have not seen them yet but our dog has been on alert in the back yard. You might want to let the neighbors know to watch their cats and small pets.
We share coyote reports when we get them, not to be alarmist, but because not everyone realizes they live among us, and if you realize that they do, you have a better chance of taking measures to ensure we and they stay a healthy distance apart. This info from the state can help.
(Photo and video by Laura James)
It’s beautiful – and sad. Protecting her eggs until they hatch is the last thing this Giant Pacific Octopus will ever do. But it’s an amazing sight to see, and “Diver Laura” James plans to check back on this one, in hopes of catching the hatching when it happens (she’s recorded the process before – see the end of this story). This octopus and her eggs are at Cove 2 near Seacrest off the West Seattle shore. Here’s the video version:
GPOs usually lay thousands of eggs. The survival rate is infinitesimal.
P.S. You can help this octopus, her future babies, and the rest of Puget Sound sea life (ultimately benefiting those of us on shore, too) by following the simple advice here.
When you’re out on the shore this holiday weekend, be mindful of the creatures with whom we share it, those that can’t speak for themselves. Robin Lindsey from Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network shares the story of “Little Dipper” the rescued seal pup:
Harbor-seal-pupping season is now underway in South Puget Sound, as well as the outer coast beaches and other inland waters. Since many readers will be out enjoying our waterways and beaches this holiday weekend, please stay well away (100 yards) from harbor-seal haulouts, now filled with pregnant females and moms with newborn pups. Offshore rafts, log booms and docks may also have moms with pups resting on them – or a pup alone. A pup who is alone is not necessarily abandoned! Please don’t interfere or the adult may not return.
Human (and canine) disturbance is truly a matter of life and death for these tiny pups who are still nursing and too young to forage for themselves. Read my post “Fourth of July no picnic for wildlife” about how you can help keep wildlife safe this holiday and throughout the summer and fall months of pupping season.
Last Friday afternoon, Seal Sitters MMSN rescued a newborn harbor seal pup from the beach at Lincoln Park and transported him to PAWS Wildlife Center for health assessment. The pup had first been sighted onshore by Colman Pool early Thursday morning. The reporting party said that she witnessed the pup being scared from the beach by people approaching too closely. When Seal Sitters first responder Lynn arrived, there were 4 illegally off-leash dogs nearby. After she cleared the beach of people and dogs, the pup finally returned to rest on the sand. He had been frantically trying to climb up onto one of the old cement piers off Point Williams to rest, but did not have the strength. Lynn established a large perimeter of yellow tape.
Because it was truly an urgent situation for this still-nursing pup, estimated to be only a few days old, Seal Sitters diverted Park visitors around the opposite side of the pool via the sidewalk loop Sadly, we had a few people who were incensed at this mild inconvenience and questioned Seal Sitters MMSN’s authority to do so. As a member of NOAA’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network with a binding agreement to respond to all marine mammals, dead or alive, we do indeed have the authority to safely divert the public away from a harbor seal (or other marine mammal) on the beach. All marine mammals are protected from harassment and disturbance by Federal law, the MMPA and Washington State law. Thankfully, there were hundreds of people who were thrilled to help an animal in need simply by sharing the shore and giving them the little bit of space they need.
We hoped desperately that the pup’s mom might return for him, after waiting for the disturbance around her pup to subside. However, over 2 days’ time and with no evidence of a mom, the emaciated pup’s condition was worsening in extremely hot temperatures (photo taken early Friday afternoon) and it was obvious the pup was abandoned. The decision was made to transport him to PAWS.
Please read my post for more info about the pup nicknamed Little Dipper, who is doing well in rehab.
Trying to protect a newborn pup in a busy urban area is incredibly challenging and is almost always a recipe for disaster. Any pup born in our area at this time would still be nursing. However, we can still have pups born as late as early September (October in Hood Canal), so there will be a mix of weaned pups and newborns using shoreline habitat as the season progresses.. If you see a pup onshore, PLEASE stay back, keep people away, keep dogs away and leashed – and call the stranding network immediately in hopes mom will not abandon her pup.
Robin and the Seal Sitters corps are full of hope for Little Dipper; last month, they dealt with a heartbreaker, a premature pup who turned up on Alki Point and couldn’t be saved.
P.S. If you have questions for Seal Sitters, and/or are interested in volunteering, look for them at the West Seattle Summer Fest Community Tent on Friday and Sunday afternoons during the festival (July 10th and 12th) – we’ll be previewing the full community-group lineup as our Summer Fest countdown continues in the days ahead.
Just got a text that up to six transient killer whales are visible from Alki right now, and heading “north into Elliott Bay.” (Transients are the non-resident orcas whose prey includes other marine mammals; residents are the members of the three Puget Sound-based J, K, and L pods, who eat fish.) Please let us know if you see them – we’ll be looking too, but don’t always have the best of luck!
(Photo and video courtesy Vlad Oustimovitch)
On the rocky shores off Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook (4503 Beach Drive SW) at low tide today, Vlad Oustimovitch and other beach explorers were mesmerized by the sight of that small – he guessed maybe a foot and a half –
Giant Pacific Octopus octopus, as it headed toward the water, and then arrived, as Vlad’s two short clips show:
The lowest low tide will be even lower the next two days – per our favorite long-range chart, -2.3 feet at 10:42 am tomorrow, -2.5 feet at 11:23 am tomorrow.
More news in the works, but first – a photo break! Bald eagles are increasingly common sights along West Seattle’s waterfront – but have you ever seen one this up-close-and-personal? Lynn Hall shares the view from Anchor (Luna) Park on Duwamish Head. It’s been almost eight years since bald eagles came off the Endangered Species List, but as this page explains, they are still protected.
We’ve heard two reports now of a certain area on the west side of The Junction where the crows are feistier than usual right now. This one’s from Laura:
I live in the Genesee neighborhood. I was walking to work (Tuesday) morning, and was on the west side of the street on Glenn Way SW that cuts a diagonal path between Genesee and Alaska on my way to the bus at about 6:30 a.m. The street has a few really large trees on it.
Suddenly I hear a couple crows start cawing really loudly. Then, one swoops down high from a tree and right over my head. Then lots more cawing from the trees. Then another swoop close to my head. I scream and put my purse over my head and start running. Then a third swoop over my head, more cawing. Finally, I get beyond the big trees and it’s over. Assume it’s a nest they’re guarding, or they don’t like white jackets, or…. anyway, pretty alarming and thought maybe you’d want to alert readers to at least walk the opposite side of the street.
As usual with something like this, we searched online to look for expert advice to add to the reader report – and found this KING 5 report saying it’s “crow-attack season.” Lots of other crow-attack tales turn up online too, but as for practical advice and explanation – the state Fish and Wildlife Department wins again, with this “Living with Wildlife” page.
If you approach the Alki Bathhouse‘s east side while on your way to Flipper Fest – which continues until 5 pm – you’ll see that life-size inflatable orca, representing, according to a sign and to the trading card that volunteer Laura gave us, J-26, aka “Mike,” a Southern Resident Killer Whale born in 1991. Inside the bathhouse, lots more to learn at this event presented by Seal Sitters with many collaborators and partners:
It’s fun, with a lesson – how to be mindful of, and protect, the creatures with which we share our shores and waters. Even the art has something to teach:
Those images of seals (the one at right, by Denise Hughes from a photo by Seal Sitters’ Robin Lindsey are made from bottle caps, as is a jellyfish outside:
They are reminders that if you use plastic bottles, be sure to dispose of them safely so they don’t find their way into our waters, where they can do so much harm to sea life. A simple outdoor display also suggests you might want to think twice about Sky Lanterns:
They look beautiful in flight, but fall into the water or onto the ground as dangerous trash. Speaking of trash – at Flipper Fest, you can find out more about Seal Sitters’ beach cleanup coming up on June 13th, which is also the date they’ll be training more volunteers – who are needed for everything from protecting seal pups on local beaches, to helping at events like this. Find out more at blubberblog.org and at Alki Bathhouse until 5 pm today – free, but you can donate to SS by buying $1 tickets for raffles with cool donated prizes listed here.
In our seven-plus years of reporting on West Seattle coyotes, we’ve heard people often mention they bring outdoor cats inside at night, in hopes of avoiding coyote encounters. This report from Jaime is a reminder that coyotes roam in the daytime too:
I thought I should report this to the blog, even if not sure of proper procedure.
My neighbor reported to me that just last week after hearing a commotion outside his porch, opened his front door to find a young coyote who had the family cat in his mouth. He immediately yelled and tried to scare the coyote away, which did cause the coyote to drop the cat. But the cat was badly injured and subsequently died.
This was in the middle of the daytime at 50th and Hudson. My neighbor believed that the coyote had entered from the alley into their fenced front yard and grabbed the cat, who was sunning himself on their porch.
Biologists who have analyzed coyotes’ diets say this is only a small part of what they eat – more commonly, they consume rats and mice, among other things you can see listed here – but nonetheless, it can be a risk if your pet is outside, unattended, so we publish this as a neighbor-to-neighbors alert. (A wildlife agent was blunt about it in this report we published two years ago.)
Just last night, a humpback whale surprised some lucky onlookers along the West Seattle shore. No photos, but we did get one when orcas made a similarly unexpected pass-by in the Wednesday mist. Just two reminders that marine mammals are all around us – and you can do a lot to help them survive their travels through these busy, also-much-used-by-humans waters. That’s the theme of a new event coming up two weeks from today, as announced by Seal Sitters, which is presenting it along with more than a dozen other organizations/groups:
Did you know that a record number of humpback and gray whales – at least 30 – were entangled in fishing gear, mostly for crabbing, in 2014?
Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network will host “Flipper Fest,” a free educational outreach event, on Sunday, May 31st, at the Alki Bathhouse (2701 Alki Ave SW) from 1-5 pm. Make sure to stop by and learn from the experts about the marine mammals of Washington – from tiny harbor-seal pups to giant humpback whales.
The event will feature 15 organizations with interactive exhibits on pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), and invertebrates (sea stars, sea snails, etc). Meet the biologists, researchers, educators, and volunteers who protect marine life.
Importantly, there will be displays on the devastating effects of marine debris and pollution in our waters. Did you know that a record number of humpback and gray whales – at least 30 – were entangled in fishing gear, mostly for crabbing, in 2014? Already, in 2015, we are on a tragic record-setting pace. As of April, at least 25 entanglements had been reported off California alone. The line securing crab traps to buoys cuts deep through a whale’s blubber, causing serious injury or death.
At Flipper Fest, you’ll learn how to secure your crab pot to lessen drifting, derelict pots that endanger whales and often entrap and kill other sea life. It’s just one of the many ways we can keep our waters safer for those who call Puget Sound home. Visit the “Marine Debris and Pollution” exhibits at Flipper Fest to find out how you can help. At the “Cetacean Station” exhibits, you can talk to Cascadia Research about their first-hand, dangerous – and, often, lifesaving – whale disentanglements over the past years. For a photo, go to our blubberblog post.
You’ll find out why you need to be extra careful exploring the beach rocks at low tide, so you don’t destroy habitat for invertebrates like hermit crabs – or accidentally scrunch them or their young. Seattle Aquarium Beach Naturalists will be at the event all afternoon to answer your questions about this fascinating miniature world. You’ll leave knowing why it’s never a good idea to pick up or relocate these extraordinary critters.
Local businesses have donated some fantastic raffle prizes – everything from food to kayaking to area attractions. Whale-sized thanks to these businesses for their generosity! Tickets are $1 and will benefit Seal Sitters’ educational outreach and marine mammal stranding work. Drawings will be held at 2:30, 3:30 and 4:30 (you need not be present to win). There will be a special free drawing for kids attending Flipper Fest, with a chance to win a “Share the Shore” t-shirt, seal boogie board or ocean backpack.
Kids will enjoy lots of art activities, including the creation of marine-themed artwork from plastic bottle caps collected by our volunteers. There will be a face painter and, weather permitting, a life-size inflatable orca on site.
We hope to see you and your friends there! Not only is there a lot to learn, we predict you’ll have some fun doing so and leave “Flipper Fest” empowered with ways you, too, can help protect marine life.
For more information, including a complete listing of participants, raffle prizes and weekly features on the upcoming event, visit Seal Sitters’ blubberblog.
A little murky for whale-watching today but Bob Bollen happened to catch these two passing Alki Point, northbound, this morning, and shared the photo. No word of any in this area currently but the Orca Network FB page mentions current sightings off Whidbey Island.
Thanks to David Hutchinson for the photo and update:
The goslings along Harbor Ave are growing up fast and are almost a month old now. One of the original three disappeared a few days ago but they were joined by a family with 5 others late last month. Looks like that will probably be all for this year.
David also shared a photo here in April (there, you’ll also see links to his lovely gosling photos from previous years).
(WSB photo, July 2012)
The Whale Trail‘s next “Orca Talk” in West Seattle is NOT about orcas – it’s about the “Natural History of River Otters and Sea Otters,” a topic that has again stirred much curiosity because of the sightings of Puget Sound-frequenting river otters (like “Otto“!), especially along Alki. Find out about the differences between the two and a whole lot more – where do they live, what do they eat, what’s their population situation, what role do we play in their environment? – when TWT hosts Leo Shaw at C & P Coffee Company (5612 California SW; WSB sponsor) on April 30th, one week from Thursday. Doors open 6:15 pm, presentation at 7 pm, space is limited so it’s a great idea to get your ticket(s) ASAP – kids are free, by the way – just go here.
Thanks to Lindsay for sharing the video – without much notice, two killer whales headed south along Vashon Island shores earlier today, around 1 pm. She says the sighting was a surprise, while she was giving a tour of the area to two friends visiting from Colorado. Also, a texter told us of a sighting near Brown’s Point in Tacoma, so if you’re by the water, keep watch – they’ll have to come back this way sooner or later.
Headed for the water? The baby Canada Goose photo and reminder are from David Hutchinson:
Three goslings were hatched recently on the pilings north of Salty’s. A couple years ago, their father was taken to PAWS by Seal Sitters. He had been attacked by a dog and suffered a severe bite while trying to protect his goslings near the Don Armeni boat ramp.
It would be thoughtful if you come across them while walking your dog (which is hopefully on a leash) to keep at a distance. If approached, they will panic and try to scramble over the rocks to escape to the water. Often, the small goslings will fall into the crevices and become trapped. People have been pretty considerate in the past while driving on Harbor Ave by stopping and allowing them to cross the road – the grass is always greener on the other side.
This is the eighth year David has shared at least one gosling photo via WSB. From the archives:
10:46 AM: According to a text tipster and the Orca Network Facebook page, you just might see orcas between Fauntleroy and Vashon right now – heading slowly southbound, according to observers, but at some point they might turn around, so this is your official heads-up that they’re in the area. Please comment if you see them! (And we ALWAYS appreciate texted tips about so many things – 206-293-6302, any time of the day/night.)
12:24 PM: We didn’t have any luck right around 11 from the Brace Point area – but two commenters have been watching more recently – thanks for the updates!
ADDED 7:44 AM: Some video from Wednesday, posted to YouTube and credited to Alisa Lemire Brooks/Orca Network, identifying these orcas as transients, not residents.
GATEWOOD REPORT #2: Not far from there, at 36th/Myrtle (map), Eugene reports: “3 pm today. Walking up Myrtle street in broad daylight. Maybe it’s not news anymore. But it looked like a chupacabra with fur so I thought I’d mention it.”
PUGET RIDGE: Forwarded from a neighborhood list, a sighting at midmorning today near 21st/Dawson (map).
Congratulations to frequent WSB contributor “Diver Laura” James and her colleagues on that 2014 KCTS report about the sea-star die-off – they’ve been nominated for the Pacific Northwest Emmy Awards. That’s one of two nominations for Laura – her underwater photography of the sea-star situation also is part of another Emmy-nominated KCTS report, “Is Alaska Safe for Starfish?” Last year, she won one for another public-TV project, about sea otters and climate change. The full list of this year’s regional Emmy Award nominations is here; the winners will be announced in June.
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