Wildlife 1041 results

YOU CAN HELP! Volunteer to survey Longfellow Creek salmon with Puget Soundkeeper Alliance

(WSB photo – Longfellow Creek during fall 2014 salmon survey)

Help survey coho salmon returning to Longfellow Creek in West Seattle! Puget Soundkeeper Alliance is looking again this fall for dedicated volunteers. Here’s their announcement:

During the salmon run each fall, a population of coho salmon enters the Duwamish River from Elliott Bay, and then swims up Longfellow Creek to spawn. As coho migrate through urbanized waterways like Longfellow, they encounter a chemical cocktail of toxic runoff from roadways and other paved surfaces. These chemicals severely disorient adult coho and result in “pre-spawn mortality” in many individuals, meaning the salmon die before reproducing.

Previous surveys conducted by the City of Seattle and NOAA on Longfellow Creek have found pre-spawn mortality rates of up to 90% amongst females, an alarmingly high statistic. Examining the number of salmon that return to Longfellow Creek every year and documenting the pre-spawn mortality rate are great indicators of the health of our local waterways. Data gathered from these surveys shared with NOAA, the City of Seattle, Department of Fish and Wildlife and King County.

Volunteers will attend an orientation meeting on Tuesday, October 4th from 6:30-8:30 pm at Chaco Canyon Organic Café in West Seattle.

Requirements/qualifications:

The nature of this work is geared toward adults only.

Surveying is a weekly commitment that takes approximately 1 hour to complete. The salmon run begins in mid-October and finishes mid-December, during which there will be a survey every day. Volunteers will be divided into teams of 2-3 people and assigned a weekday to conduct their survey.

We’re looking for adventurous volunteers! Surveying requires handling fish carcasses found in the creek (with gloves) and dissecting the female salmon to check for eggs.

Volunteers should be in good physical condition. Surveying in Longfellow Creek requires climbing up and down steep muddy embankments and wading through shallow water on uneven terrain.

Surveying is conducted in varying weather conditions. If conditions are dangerous (e.g. a downpour), we will cancel on that day. Otherwise, we survey rain or shine.

Volunteers will be provided with surveying kits and waders (unless you have your own pair). Data collected during the survey will be uploaded by the volunteers into Puget Soundkeeper’s database.

Salmon surveys are a great way to observe one of nature’s most amazing migrations and experience scientific field work. The data we collect from these surveys help us understand the effects of toxic runoff on one of the Pacific Northwest’s most iconic species and determine the best methods to protect them in the future!

Qustions? kerry@pugetsoundkeeper.org – and when you’re ready to register, go here.

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FOLLOWUP: What we’ve learned about the Fauntleroy white geese’s new life in Vashon, and their backstory

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(Photo courtesy BaaHaus, from the geese’s trip to a vet)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

A week and a half after the famous Fauntleroy white geese were relocated to Vashon Island, the rescue group that is now housing them says they “are both doing great.”

We promised to follow up on our original September 9th report of their sudden removal, and in keeping that promise, have learned more about how that unfolded, and about how they had come to live in Fauntleroy in the first place.

We have communicated by e-mail with the rescue group, BaaHaus, and Seattle Parks, and have spoken by phone with the man who says he is the person who originally brought geese to the Fauntleroy shore and is sad that they are gone. Read More

West Seattle coyotes: Two sightings

Change of seasons tends to bring out the coyote sightings. We have two to share:

NEAR LUNA PARK: Jason sent the photo and report:”I was walking up Andover from Avalon toward the Fauntleroy pedestrian bridge [map], and I spotted what looked like a good-sized coyote across the street from the east entrance to the bridge. It saw me and froze, sat on its haunches, and watched me for 3-4 minutes. I took this photo (blurry since it was zoomed in on my phone), and shortly after that it disappeared when I looked away. It did not seem very afraid of me.”

IN SEAVIEW: Deb saw one early Friday along 47th SW between Findlay and Erskine [map]: “I was out around 1:30 in the morning when a lanky coyote with a thin tail came trotting down 47th. When the animal spotted me he wheeled and ran down the alley. I promptly went back in the house.”

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE ONE: Best thing to do is to scare it away, experts say. Other tips on coexisting with coyotes are in this fact sheet from the state Fish and Wildlife Department. Our off-and-on archive of West Seattle coyote sightings, meantime, is here.

West Seattle whale watching: Orcas in the area!

2:32 PM: Thanks to Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail for the tip: She says orcas are in the area right now, between Blake Island and Vashon Island, headed south as of her call at 2:28 pm. They’re closer to the other side, so you need good binoculars to see them, but if you’d rather watch whales than football, get over to Beach Drive and points south! She says they’re believed to be transients, not the Southern Residents.

2:52 PM: We can see them from Upper Fauntleroy – heading southbound along Vashon’s east shore, just south of the ferry lane. Moving fast, and quickly out of our peek view; definitely closer to Vashon than this side.

West Seattle’s white geese suddenly relocated to Vashon Island

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(June photo contributed by Claudia, weeks before two of the goslings were killed)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Fauntleroy’s white geese are gone.

Early this summer, their numbers were up to five – parents and three goslings.

Then in early July, a driver hit and killed two of the goslings.

In recent days, we had received a few notes from worried West Seattleites, saying the remaining adult male gosling seemed to be missing too, and they were seeing only the female and the surviving gosling.

As of hours ago, those two are gone – but still alive – and their whereabouts are no mystery.

We found out through two calls today from a Lincoln Park-goer who told the story of what he considered an unauthorized capture: He said he was at the park early this afternoon, the two white geese nearby, when two people suddenly swooped in with carriers, put blankets over the geese, stuffed them into the carriers, and departed. Before they left, he said, another concerned outlooker found out that they were being taken to an animal sanctuary on Vashon Island called Baa Haus.

The caller said police were called and given a license plate number, but couldn’t catch up with the goose-capturers before they ferried away.

We hadn’t heard of Baa Haus before but looked it up online and left messages via voice-mail and e-mail. This evening, we got a call back.

Yes, Baa Haus has the geese, said the caller. They had received numerous calls from people worried the geese were in danger and needed to be rescued, before Baa Haus finally got the chance to intervene today via “a good Samaritan,” she said. She referred to the geese as having been “dumped in a park” and didn’t know much about their history, except to say Baa Haus understood “their numbers were dwindling.”

The two geese, she said, are “settling in quite happily” tonight at their new digs on the nonprofit’s six acres on Vashon, where they have about 30 geese in all. They will be “in quarantine” for a while, she said, until Baa Haus can get them checked out by a vet, and then they’ll work to integrate them with the other geese. But so far they seem to be in good spirits and condition, she said, adding that they’ve been vocalizing – “trash talking” as she put it with laughter – with the other geese.

Our conversation was brief, and we’ll be following up. Before we learned where the geese were, we had put in a call, unreturned, to the Seattle Animal Shelter, which had some involvement with the birds over the years, particularly in cases where the geese had been attacked by dogs.

We recall seeing white geese like these on the beach at Lincoln Park and nearby Cove Park going back more than 15 years; the question is whether anyone ever actually owned them, and whether Baa Haus needed anyone’s permission to remove them from the park. The spokesperson said her organization, which has been around for 20 years, has worked with numerous other groups, organizations, and entities.

The banners are back: ‘Share the Shore’ with wildlife

Another sign of the season: David Hutchinson from Seal Sitters shares the photo and report on their banners’ annual arrival on Alki:

Seal Sitters would like to thank Seattle Parks & Recreation for installing our “Share the Shore” banners along Alki Avenue again this year. A special thanks to Parks’ employee, James Lohman, who has been responsible for handling this the past several years.

Harbor seal pups are born from June – September in south Puget Sound and Seal Sitters’ busiest time of year are the months of September and October when they “haul out” on our West Seattle beaches. They are protected by federal law, so if you come across one of these vulnerable pups, please remember the following: stay back, keep people and pets away, and call your local stranding network – for West Seattle beaches, that would be Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 206-905-SEAL (7325). For all other beaches, please call the NOAA Hotline at 1-866-767-6114.

Seal Sitters is a member of NOAA’s West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

That means they are the people to call if you spot ANY marine mammal onshore, or in potential trouble just offshore, not just seals; they were the first responders for the Fauntleroy humpback whale one month ago.

VIDEO: Orcas pass West Seattle, southbound

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(Added late Monday afternoon – photo by Trileigh Tucker)

2:11 PM: Just got a report from Donna Sandstrom of The Whale Trail that orcas – transients, not the Southern Residents – are headed southbound toward Alki Point. And she says they’re reported to be close to this side of the water.

2:44 PM: As of a few minutes ago, an Orca Network sighting report had them near the Vashon ferry.

3:14 PM: Just tweeted by @corybe – the video below, showing the orcas still heading southbound, closer to the Vashon shore, seen from the Fauntleroy-bound ferry:


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.

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

August 22, 2016 10:54 am
|    Comments Off on YOU CAN HELP: Volunteer meeting tomorrow for The Whale Trail; run, or help with, the Orca Half next month
 |   How to help | West Seattle news | Wildlife

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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

whalefloating
(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:


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