(2012 WSB photo)
How does this sound for a volunteer gig: Sit and watch the water! That’s exactly what you’re invited to do:
If you’d like to experience coho spawners up close, consider joining Salmon Watch 2015 on Fauntleroy Creek. We’ll begin Monday, Oct. 19, with veteran watchers, then fold in newcomers if/when we start seeing fish. To learn why West Seattleites eagerly get wet and cold to document fish, contact Judy Pickens at email@example.com.
Hard to tell how exciting (or not) this’ll be this year – last year saw 19 spawners, two years earlier, a record 274. Salmon watch starts right after a community event this Sunday – the annual gathering to drum, sing, and dance to call the coho home. To be part of that (all ages welcome!), be at the creek overlook (across the street and up the embankment from the ferry dock) at 5 pm Sunday (October 18th).
An overnight extra while it’s quiet: “Diver Laura” James and fellow diver Lamont G. recorded this video at Cove 2 earlier this week. “So many fish” that night, Laura enthused, while sharing the link, also noting that the sea stars are still more or less MIA.
P.S. We asked about the creature you’ll see about a minute in … “lemon peel nudibranch,” Laura replied.
P.P.S. Remember to do what you can to help keep the water clean for everything that lives there – minimizing deadly, toxic runoff is a start – find out how, here.
That photo by Araya Casey Photography is one of several shared with us after orcas swam past West Seattle on Sunday (see others here). If you’re among our area’s many orca fans, you will want to hurry up and get your ticket for the October 13th event that will lead off The Whale Trail‘s new Orca Talk season, with world-renowned author and orca expert Erich Hoyt speaking October 13th at The Hall at Fauntleroy. His talk titled “Ants, Orcas and Creatures of the Deep” is one of three stops in the region on Hoyt’s “Orca Tour 2015.” Wondering what in the world ants and orcas could have in common? Don’t miss the chance to find out – you can get your ticket right now through Brown Paper Tickets. (When Hoyt spoke here two years ago, he filled the house!)
(ADDED: Photo by Paul Brannan - orca off Fauntleroy)
5:43 PM: Caller says a few orcas are southbound – playfully, not speedily – off Constellation Park south of Alki Point right now. Might be “transients,” which Orca Network says have been in the central Sound today. Let us know if you see them!
7:46 PM: Adding a photo – thanks, Paul!
8:25 PM: And thanks to Araya Casey Photography for sharing these images:
The photos were taken in the Alki area.
Just in via text (206-293-6302, 24/7), our first coyote report of the fall:
Just spotted a large coyote in the street on SW Thistle, near the alley between 24th & 25th Ave. I slowed down thinking it was a stray dog, then watched it go into the walkways in between the apt buildings there. Just want to spread the word since it’s in a highly populated area.
As also noted in our exchange with the texter, that’s across the street from the stretch of Longfellow Creek that runs east of the Chief Sealth International High School/Denny International Middle School campus. But coyotes can turn up anywhere, whether a greenbelt is nearby or not – just browse our eight-plus-year archive of sighting reports for ample evidence of that. When you see one, do your best to scare it away – more for its good than yours – as explained here.
(Photo taken from Alki today, by Trileigh Tucker)
10:51 AM: Multiple reports of whales in the Alki Point vicinity. First, the Orca Network cited a WSF report of orcas; Jeff from Killer Whale Tales says it might instead be the humpbacks that have been in the area. Off to look!
11:24 AM: Breezy morning so lots of whitecaps off both Constellation Park and Alki – hard to see whale spouts unless you’re really close (or have a great eye/telescope). Jeff says the humpbacks have been breaching in the ferry lanes north of Alki Point. (West Seattle-based The Whale Trail offers a species-by-species guide if you’re not sure you’d know the difference between a humpback and an orca.)
12:41 PM: West Seattle photographer Trileigh Tucker saw one from Alki – and has the photo to prove it. Added above – thanks!
5:08 PM: Via Orca Network on Twitter and Facebook, “Washington State Ferries reports a large whale, probably a humpback, off the Fauntleroy dock in West Seattle.” Please let us know if you see it (and which way it seems to be heading)!
6:50 PM: Sheri reports, via Twitter, that she just saw it dive off Lincoln Park, and that it’s heading north.
(WSB photo, taken from behind the protection-zone tape)
Walking on the Lincoln Park shore this afternoon, on our way to meet an interview subject, we happened onto an unexpected sight – this harbor-seal pup on the beach. Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network‘s first responder Lynn Shimamoto was already there and marking off an area to keep it safe from people and other animals. On our way back from our (unrelated) interview, we stopped to talk with Seal Sitters’ Robin Lindsey, who said it’s continued to be a slow season for pup sightings otherwise, as noted on their Blubberblog website (where you’ll likely see a post later about today’s visit, which came four days after a brief sighting nearby). Most likely, Robin said, today’s pup was already weaned, as most pups are born in July or August and now past the time they stay with their moms. One telltale sign: Like this one, the weaned pups aren’t very plump, as they are learning how to hunt for themselves. This means it’s even more important they get space to rest, because if they’re spooked, they’ll burn more of what little stored fat they have as they scoot back into the water to find safety. If you see a seal or other marine mammal on a local store, call Seal Sitters’ hotline at 206-905-SEAL.
P.S. For tracking purposes, pups protected by Seal Sitters often are given names. Lynn told us passersby from Wales suggested “Cariad,” which means “sweetheart” in Welsh.
(WSB photo from November 2014)
Last November, we reported on Puget Soundkeeper Alliance‘s project to track what happens to salmon in Longfellow Creek – which has much more of a toxic-runoff problem than West Seattle’s other urban salmon creek in Fauntleroy. This year, we have advance word that they’re looking for volunteer help, with an orientation event coming up in two weeks, so this is your chance to get involved:
Join Soundkeeper as we investigate the health of our local salmon runs at Longfellow Creek this fall! Volunteers will assess the effects of urban runoff on wildlife by conducting a pre-spawn mortality survey of Coho salmon. Volunteers needed for weekly surveys from October to early December.
Volunteer Orientation in West Seattle:
Thursday, October 1, 2015
6 pm-7:30 pm
Chaco Canyon Café
3770 SW Alaska St.
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
As Soundkeeper noted in this update last year, federal scientists have discovered a pre-spawn death rate of up to 80 percent in urban creeks – compared to one percent in rural creeks. The results of this work, including what you can do as a volunteer, will help support more cleanups, education, and enforcement to help clear the waters and save salmon.
For the fifth time in less than a year, Puget Sound’s Southern Resident Killer Whales have welcomed a baby. The Instagram-shared photo above and news release below are from the Center for Whale Research:
Today there was another new baby in the L pod! L91 was first seen near Sooke, BC this morning with a very newborn calf, confirmed a few hours later by Mark Malleson off Victoria, BC and CWR staffers, Dave Ellifrit and Melissa Pinnow, and by colleagues Drs. John Durban, Holly Fearnbach, and Lance Barrett-Lennard.
These latter colleagues happened to be in the area conducting a sequel to CWR aerial measurements of all of the SRKW’s (Southern Resident Killer Whales), this time with a very sophisticated hexacopter (Unmanned Aerial System – UAS, or drone). The measurements were accomplished on the US side of the border as Dave and Melissa took numerous identification photographs from the research vessel “Orca” at a respectful distance. The new calf is designated L122, and is the fifth new baby to come into the population since December, 2014. The mother and baby and other L pod whales spent the afternoon and evening in Haro Strait ‘fishing’, and by day’s end were joined by J and K pod members.
In the forty-year history of ORCA SURVEY, a long-term photo-identification study of this whale population, the greatest number of calves born in a year was 9 in 1977, and there were none born that survived in 2013 or 2014. We hope this year’s ‘baby boom’ represents a turnaround in what has been a negative population trend in recent years.
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.
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