In the midst of all the hectic holiday activities on Saturday – orcas swam by West Seattle shores. Thanks to Trileigh Tucker for sharing photos!
Trileigh watched the orcas from Lowman Beach.
You have probably heard of the die-off of sea stars – aka starfish – all along the West Coast, and in some East Coast spots too. Regional and national news organizations are paying attention – the Washington Post covered the die-off just this week. But nothing brings it home like seeing what “Diver Laura” James observed in West Seattle waters this weekend. She recorded video off Seacrest on Saturday and uploaded the clip (go here if you can’t see/play the embedded version above) early today, two weeks after she documented dead stars on the beach (as reported here). Discussing her video early today via e-mail, she told us, “I knew it was bad, but I hadn’t seen it in a couple weeks, and it was crushing to see bodies piled on top of bodies and the pilings bare.”
This epidemic is fast-growing; this KING 5 report from a month ago features Seattle Aquarium investigators saying only sunflower stars were affected, yet now it’s moved to other species, as Laura’s video shows so vividly. Researchers continue to say they haven’t figured it out, except for the fact that it’s happening in many places – we found this tracking map as well as media coverage including Sonoma County north of San Francisco, Half Moon Bay south of San Francisco, Southern California, and the earliest reports this fall, from British Columbia.
(Click image for larger view)
Joe shared that photo a short time ago after spotting the coyote in a backyard in the 3900 block of 55th SW (map). “This one looks like a big one,” he observed. As always, a reminder – best thing to do if you see a coyote relatively close-up is to scare it away, yelling, waving your arms, throwing things. And as a state wildlife biologist told a recent meeting at West Seattle’s Camp Long, an even-more-important action to take to make sure people, pets, and coyotes stay apart is to reduce food sources – including pet food, bird feeders, unsecured trash. Here’s the official state info-sheet with more on all of the above advice, and then some.
We don’t know for sure whether this is the same American White Pelican spotted hanging around Lincoln Park/Lowman Beach two weeks ago (as seen here), but it’s the first report we’ve received since this stormy weekend, so we’re sharing it. Jon Anderson spotted it during one of today’s sunbreaks, in a pond near the South Transfer Station. Their usual range in our state is around the Columbia River.
Mark your calendar for a free movie at the historic Admiral Theater – Thursday, December 5th. This isn’t a fundraiser, but rather an awareness-raiser. We learned about it from Dawn Clark, who says her high-school-senior daughter Keely and friend Angelica are so concerned about the captive killer whale known as Lolita – the last surviving Puget Sound-captured orca – that they are renting space at The Admiral to show a documentary made about her, “Lolita: Slave to Entertainment.” Here’s the trailer:
Activists around the world have been campaigning for Lolita to be set free. The awareness campaign even succeeded in getting a ferry being built right now at Vigor Shipyard on Harbor Island to carry her previous name, Tokitae. You can support the students’ efforts by coming to the movie on December 5th; doors open at 6:30 pm, movie at 7 pm. It’s not a movie for young children, so they’re promoting it for teens and adults; if you need an incentive besides free admission, they’re offering free desserts. “We’re not raising money, only awareness for her,” says the announcement Dawn shared. “Her story will touch your heart. There is a sanctuary waiting for her in the San Juan Islands. Help us get the word out.” (You can read about the proposed retirement sanctuary on the Orca Network‘s website.)
“One of those years” is how Fauntleroy Creek/Watershed steward Judy Pickens put it as she shared this report, after volunteers spent two weeks watching for fish that just didn’t show up:
After two weeks of ideal habitat conditions – 12-foot tides, rain to flush the creek, no obstructions – salmon watchers have gone home after spotting just one coho spawner. That fish had just nosed into the creek as the tide ebb, leaving it there to the mercy of two very active river otters.
This is not the only year we’ve had so few fish. Last year’s 274 was an exciting aberration. Other recent counts: 14 (2011), 0 (2010), 18 (2009), 2 (2008), 89 (2007), 0 (2006).
Early reports of lots of coho in the Sound didn’t hold true here. We always have tribal fishing, sometimes right in the cove, and noise from construction on land near the ferry terminal likely wouldn’t have affected spawners in the water.
Next year should be great!
Two updates on West Seattle salmon:
FAUNTLEROY CREEK: Two weeks after this fall’s salmon watch began, volunteers report the first sighting. Creek/watershed steward Judy Pickens shared the word that Dennis Hinton had spotted one from the ferry dock, watching the creek mouth. He then elaborated:
Saw the single spawner from the dock at 2:30 pm. Went back down to the ladder with daughter’s dog, Blazer. We watched at the culvert until 4 pm to see if any fish had ventured up the creek. Saw no fish. But saw two river otters approaching the culvert about 4 pm. I’ll bet they can smell the coho coming. Blazer barked and scared the otters away. But bet they’ll be back to get the first pickings.
LONGFELLOW CREEK: We’ve reported twice on spawners spotted in the eastern West Seattle creek. “Diver Laura” James has gone in with a camera for a closer look – some of it was heartening, some not so much:
Thanks to Angelique for sharing the photo of a coyote spotted in her neighbor’s yard near Delridge/Willow (map). Hard to tell from the photo, but from a video clip she also sent (see it here), it was seen in mid-meal, and the main course looked to Angelique like a raccoon.
The photo gives us another reason to remind you about Wednesday night’s event at Camp Long Environmental Learning Center – the first time in years that you have a chance to come learn (and ask) about coexisting with coyotes – safely for you and for them. Here’s the announcement again:
Living with Coyotes in Seattle
Coyotes live in our neighborhoods and we humans can learn to live with them. Camp Long and the WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife team up to give tips and insight into co-existing safely with these wild dogs. Learn how they live and how humans can avoid and resolve conflict with them.
Camp Long Lodge
Wednesday, November 13th
7 PM to 8:30 PM
Camp Long’s entrance is at 5200 35th SW.
Thanks to Lisa K for sharing that quick video clip of a coho salmon working on a leap in Longfellow Creek, one of six she saw today “working their way upstream, shortly before the fishbone bridge.” Conditions in the creek are a challenge to fish – particularly polluted stormwater runoff – but as we first showed you back on Tuesday night, spawners are there now and thrilling spectators. Lisa also notes some didn’t make it long enough to spawn, like this female that died before releasing her eggs (the ones in the photo, she explains, emerged with “gentle pressure” on the fish’s carcass):
Lisa adds a potential health warning: “May be worth mentioning, as there are lots of off-leash dog walkers on the creek – anadromous fish, like salmon, harbor pathogens that can make a dog very, very ill, so keep dogs away from the fish carcasses.” She points to this link for more info. To find out how to minimize your contribution to the runoff pollution, check out tox-ick.org.
P.S. Expert observers say (as a commenter pointed out following our Tuesday night item) these are hatchery-raised coho – a missing adipose fin is the telltale sign.
2:36 PM: Update from Lisa – she went back to the creek and discovered a Seattle Public Utilities crew “clearing up debris jams resulting from the storm with the specific purpose of aiding spawning salmon. Apparently if you see a jam, you can notify SPU and they’ll rectify the situation.”
ADDED 7:14 PM: From Jake Jaramillo of Seattle Stairway Walks, an under-the-bridge view of the spawners:
If you’re interested in a slice of life from the creek last year – we just happened to find this video during a search, narrated by a student who went out with experts studying the coho last year.
The election results aren’t going to change, so we’re moving on to a few other things – like this photo texted tonight by John M, two salmon he reports spotting in Longfellow Creek, near Dragonfly Pavilion. Longfellow is tougher on salmon than Fauntleroy Creek (which hasn’t seen spawners yet this fall), but there’s always hope – and it’s a reminder about doing what you can to minimize toxic runoff.
ADDED WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON: John has sent two video clips – we’ll work on embedding them later, but for now, here are links to these fairly short clips (which might help with the ID questions that have come up in comments) – here and here. (The end of the second clip shows one fish’s full colors.)
West Seattle coyotes: Camp Long event to explain how ‘we humans can learn to live with them’; plus, 2 sightingsNovember 5, 2013 at 2:09 pm | In Coyotes, West Seattle news, Wildlife | 4 Comments
Unless you’re a brand-new WSB reader, you likely know we have been sharing coyote reports and information here for more than five years (all archived here, newest to oldest). If you have questions – or are just curious to find out more about them – mark your calendar for an event next week at Camp Long Environmental Learning Center (not far from where Mark Wangerin photographed the one shown above, this time last year). Here’s the announcement:
Coyotes live in our neighborhoods and we humans can learn to live with them. Camp Long and the Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife team up to give tips and insight into co-existing safely with these wild dogs. Learn how they live and how humans can avoid and resolve conflict with them.
Camp Long Lodge (5200 35th SW)
Wednesday, November 13th
7 PM to 8:30 PM
SIDE NOTE – RECENT SIGHTINGS: Before receiving this announcement, we had two sightings in queue for publication, so we’ll mention them here:
*This morning, Jason reported: “Saw a fairly large coyote last night, around 8 pm, at 50th ave and Dawson St in Seaview. He ran into an alley between Dawson and Hudson, and 50th and 51st.”
*From Melissa yesterday, “Just had a coyote head up the hill here on Othello, heading up to Riverview Park. And in the time it took me to type that, it just came back down the street. Couldn’t get a picture. It was moving pretty fast. I don’t think it’s full grown, since it isn’t as big as the last one I saw.”
(Photo by Candace Emmons, NOAA Fisheries)
Our area’s resident orcas were seen in nearby waters three times this past week – the photo above, in fact, is from one of those days. And now, without even taking your binoculars to the shore, you have a chance to find out more about our local killer whales, courtesy of The Whale Trail and NOAA:
Killer Whales in Winter – Recent Findings about Range, Diet and Behaviors
Presentation by Brad Hanson, NOAA Fisheries
Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 7 – 9 PM (doors open 6:30), C & P Coffee (5612 California SW)
$5 suggested donation, kids free
Tickets available brownpapertickets.com
Presented by The Whale Trail
Where do the southern resident orcas go during the winter? What do they eat? And how will that information help move this endangered population toward recovery?
Brad Hanson, NOAA Fisheries, will discuss the innovative research techniques that are being deployed to answer these and other key questions. Satellite telemetry and genetic analysis of prey and fecal sampling are providing new information about where the orcas are going, and what they are eating. LIke scientific detectives, Brad and his colleague are solving the mysteries that are critical to the orcas’ survival.
Join us on November 12 to hear first-hand about these research efforts, what the data are showing, and what it means for the long-term recovery of this population.
Brad is an ecologist with NOAA Fisheries Science Center, who studies the foraging and habitat use of Southern Resident killer whales.
This is the first in a new series of Orca Talks hosted by The Whale Trail in West Seattle.
The event also features updates from Robin Lindsay (Seal Sitters), and Diver Laura James (tox-ick.org and Puget Soundkeeper Alliance), and photography and art from Judy Lane.
Buy tickets ahead of time and we’ll save you a seat! And hurry – this will likely sell out.
For the third time this week, Puget Sound’s resident orcas are reported to be in the area. Just got an alert from Killer Whale Tales‘ Jeff Hogan; the Orca Network‘s Facebook page has word of the sighting too. They are reported to be visible off Blake Island, across the Sound from west-facing West Seattle, so you’ll need binoculars. Let us know if you see/photograph them!
(Click image for larger view)
Trileigh Tucker has shared some beautiful bird photos here in recent years – but these are the first ones of an American White Pelican!
Even brown pelicans are seldom seen here in the Puget Sound area (though one visited West Seattle last winter). This one turned up in the Lincoln Park/Lowman Beach area; we also have a photo of the white pelican on the water, courtesy of Emily Austin:
Emily says this is the second consecutive day she’s seen the pelican. According to the Seattle Audubon website, their range in our state is usually closer to the Columbia River.
12:13 PM: Can’t guarantee they’ll get this far south, but orcas are reported to be heading this way again today. Off Edmonds and southbound around 10 am, according to Jeff Hogan from Killer Whale Tales, and commenters on the Orca Network Facebook page have seen them further south in the past hour. Let us know if you get a glimpse anywhere close to here!
3:10 PM: Just got a text that they are approaching the Alki area, still southbound at last report.
Four West Seattle coyote reports have come in today – two with photos, starting with the one above, from Kerry Murphy:
We were at Lincoln Park today around noon and a very bold coyote was lurking in the same pretty public spot for about an hour. We were surprised that it was lurking so close to so many people, kids, dogs – it was actually pretty busy there today! It was hanging along the path that runs just west of the gravel path that leads toward the baseball field from the north parking lot.
Stacy saw one on Genesee Hill around 6 tonight:
I was just heading out to walk my dog and saw what I thought was a loose dog running down the middle of 53rd between Genesee and Dakota. [map] At second glance I realized it was a coyote. He ran down the sidewalk, crossed over Dakota and continued down 53rd then turned back and darted into a neighbor’s yard. He must have been hiding out there because my dog started going bananas as we walked down that block. Pet owners in the area, please keep your pets inside!!
And Sean sent a sighting report this afternoon:
Just saw a big coyote going down 36th. He/she turned and went down Raymond heading west. [map] Pretty cool. First coyote sighting for me in West Seattle.
We had two holdover reports from earlier in the week – Eve saw one Monday morning at 32nd and Holden (map), “headed south,” while Jeff saw one near 48th/Raymond (map) last Sunday afternoon, “seemed like a juvenile that was not sure where to go.”
(2011 photo from Fauntleroy Creek, courtesy Dennis Hinton)
Last year, volunteers watching Fauntleroy Creek counted a record number of returning spawners – 274! What will happen this fall? You can help find out. From creek/watershed steward Judy Pickens:
Salmon Watch 2013 on Fauntleroy Creek will get under way October 28 with veteran watchers. As soon as they start seeing spawners, though, any and all new volunteers will be welcome to join. That will most likely be on or about November 1, when high tides will be in the 12-foot range. To get on the “I’m interested” list, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Right before Salmon Watch begins, it’s time to call the salmon home, with the annual gathering at the creek overlook (across Fauntleroy Way from the ferry dock and up the embankment), 5 pm this Sunday (October 27). All welcome, all ages; bring a drum if you have one, but it’s not mandatory since there are also songs and chants to which you can add your voice. Judy says that this year for the first time, there’ll even be salmon humor. Be there!
The most recent West Seattle coyote reports shared by WSB readers:
*From Greg this morning: “Saw a few coyotes today at Brandon and 29th along the Longfellow Creek entrance.” [map]
*From Christopher on Saturday afternoon: “Pretty sure I just saw a coyote in the alley between Fauntleroy and 39th and Graham and Morgan.” [map]
*From Karen on Friday: “2 coyotes seen on 98th & 39th Ave SW, 5:30 pm Friday Oct. 18th, just 2 blocks off the top of Fauntleroy Park.” [map]
*From Chris, also early Friday evening: “Just saw a lone coyote poking around in the alley behind our house at 30th and Webster. It headed off down Webster.” [map]
*And on Thursday, Rachael reported that her “neighbor just saw a coyote on 10th & Elmgrove in Highland Park.” [map]
To wrap up this roundup, something new: Ron, who reads WSB daily from his residence in Mexico, sends “coyote news from elsewhere” on occasion. This week, he e-mailed a link from TV’s “Dog Whisperer,” headlined Five Ways to Keep Your Dogs Safe From Coyotes.
Four sightings reported in the past (almost) 24 hours:
*Just called in this morning, “big male coyote at 50th and Graham.” [map]
And three in eastern West Seattle:
*Jonel e-mailed late last night: “Just saw a coyote running down the sidewalk on SW Webster between 16th and 14th. [map] He ran when he saw humans.”
*Jeff saw one “standing in our driveway” around 1 pm Saturday, “6000 block of 17th SW. [map] Ran away when our dog started barking.”
And Kellie reported that her son saw what might have bene the same one on Saturday afternoon while “walking on 17th from the path by Duwamish Housing, up the Graham stairs towards 16th and SSCC.” [map]
Scaring them away is best for them and you, so they are conditioned to keep a healthy distance from humans (and their pets), as advised by state wildlife authorities (if you’ve never followed that link we usually include with coyote reports, it’s got lots of other good advice too).
Out of the WSB inbox this afternoon, from Ann Marie:
There’s a couple running around right now around 28th/27th & Kenyon. [map] I’ve seen them twice now this afternoon…bring your cats in!
As always – we share this “coexisting with coyotes” info including how to scare one off if you see one (or two!).
Thanks to Shawn for sharing news of this sighting:
I just wanted to inform everyone that at 6:45 am this morning I ran into a coyote at the corner of 36th & Brandon [map]. It headed toward Fairmount (Playfield). Please let the neighborhood know to keep their pets indoors.
We share sighting reports not to stir fear but just to be sure people are aware that coyotes are pretty much everywhere in our area, even if you’ve never seen one. Here’s the state’s advice on what to do if you see one, and how to reduce the chances they’ll want to hang around your house, among other things.
Three recent coyote sightings to pass along, starting with this one sent today by Lois:
Friday morning about 9, a coyote came up the hill into our yard. Left when we pounded on the window. Went back down the hill. One of our cats is missing. He had only been out 30 minutes or so. This is in the 2300 block of 51st SW. Close to the College Street ravine.
From Paul in Fauntleroy:
Coyote sighting, Wednesday, October 2. It was on Tillicum SW between SW Donovan and SW Cloverdale st. This was at 9:50 am. It took its time after staring at me and then turned and trotted off to Donovan heading West.
And Michael reported this Gatewood sighting a week and a half ago: “Just saw two coyotes walking west along Portland between California Ave and 44th Ave.”
So what do you do if you see one? Lots of good advice on this state webpage – including steps to take around your house to help increase the chances they’ll keep their distance.
Let us know if you see it/them too – tipster Cormac reports seeing at least one gray whale in Elliott Bay off Seacrest/Jack Block and the 1300 block of Alki SW.
That’s Dr. Kaddee Lawrence, the West Seattleite who is executive director of the MaST Center in Redondo. We photographed her there a year and a half ago, when the skeleton of the gray whale that beached in 2010 in The Arroyos went on display. The photo is relevant today for a multi-part reason – Dr. Lawrence is seeking volunteers for the MaST Center’s Marine Mammal Stranding Response Team, whose jurisdiction begins along the southwesternmost West Seattle shores:
The MaST Center in Redondo, a part of Highline Community College, is having an information session and meet&greet for people interested in being part of our Marine Mammal Stranding Response Team. There is no previous experience necessary, just a willingness to help the seals and other marine mammals in Puget Sound. People can be involved as much or as little as they feel comfortable. Come and learn how to help our mammalian neighbors in the water. This event is being held at the MaST Center in Redondo (next door to Salty’s restaurant on Redondo Beach Drive South) on Saturday (October 5th) at 3 pm.
Here’s a map to that location.
(Photo by Buzz Shaw)
A season of sadness for the Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network, whose first responder Robin Lindsey reports an overview of pups losing their struggle for survival too many times this season:
I am sad to report that we seem to be having a second season in a row with emaciated pups and lots of mortality. In (recent) weeks, 9 seal pups have died on our West Seattle shores. Many of these pups are those that we have looked after on the beach, most for many days in a row. We thought your readers would want an update about pups they may have seen on the beach. I cannot stress enough that newly weaned seal pups are in a daily struggle between life and death – and we thank the West Seattle community for their continued support in our efforts to protect them. Rehabilitation options are extremely limited and there have been new funding cuts which will virtually eliminate the opportunity for necropsies to determine cause of mortality and further research.
I have included a photo showing the recovery of the body of one of the pups from the Alki platform. This terribly thin pup, nicknamed Angel, was only on shore very briefly one day and then died on the offshore platform. We had to wait several days for a window of opportunity when there were no other seals on the raft to remove the body. While it is not Seal Sitters’ responsibility to remove an animal in this situation, we did not want a decomposing pup to deter other seals to use this safe refuge. Nor did we want the public upset by such a disturbing sight. Thanks to Seattle Aquarium volunteer Jarett Kaplan, a waterfront resident, who alerted us that the opportunity had arisen and who rowed me out to examine, mark with biodegradable paint, and sink the body to nourish other marine life. Seal Sitters’ Buzz Shaw, retired zoologist from the Seattle Aquarium, also participated in the retrieval.
If anyone has a kayak they are not using and would like to donate one to our group, it would be very helpful in situations where we have to make a water response to an entangled animal or retrieval in a situation such as this.
On a brighter note, emaciated seal pup Snapper (rescued from Cormorant Cove in early August) has thrived at PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood. Snapper will be released back to the wild in mid-October. Unfortunately, because Snapper was only a couple of weeks old when taken to PAWS, he did not have the benefit of being taught how to forage by his mom. His chances for survival back in the wild are not as great as a rehabbed pup who had been fully weaned, but we hope this feisty pup beats the odds!
The Seal Sitters’ blubberblog site has more details on the deaths Robin mentions; any time you see a marine mammal on the beach, alive or not, call SS at 206-905-SEAL.
First coyote report in a few weeks, shared this morning by Diane:
Around 10:45 pm last night I was heading up my street (Garlough Ave SW) and saw two of them, heading south, about mid block, between Stevens and Hanford street (map). They then headed west into a neighbor’s yard, most likely one that has access to the back alley. We live close to a trail into Schmitz Park and I wasn’t surprised to see them. My neighbor has seen them in the back yard sometimes. The back yard is on the park boundary, near the trail leading into it.
Reminders are always good for those with pets – keep them inside at night!
Even if you’re not near a park or greenbelt, they might be in your area – browse the WSB archive of coyote reports (some with photos) to see. For expert advice on how to encourage them to keep their distance – most notably, scaring them away if you see one – go here and follow the “solutions to problems” link.
Here on this rainy Sunday afternoon, we have a few more views from the sunny Saturday afternoon whale-watching that so many were able to do – Top, Betsy Bertiaux shares her view from a kayak; next, Trileigh Tucker caught several whales and the research vessel that was checking them out:
Next, shared via the Orca Network‘s Facebook page, Alisa Lemire Brooks‘ video of the whales before they got here – when they were still to the north – she says they’re from K and L pods:
And one more of our photos showing the whale watchers at Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook on Beach Drive:
If you missed the photos we published yesterday, along with running updates on the whales’ whereabouts – see them here.
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