West Seattle, Washington
Love nature? You can do more than admire it … you can help others learn about and enjoy it. From Seattle Parks:
Live the dream – become a nature guide! Do you love sharing nature with others? Are you interested in learning more about the flora and fauna of Seattle’s many public green spaces and parks? You are the perfect candidate for the Seattle Urban Nature Guide program. SUN Guides participate in 30 hours of training and commit to providing 8 programs a year at Environmental Learning Centers and parklands near schools throughout Seattle.
Seattle Urban Nature Guides provide hands-on learning opportunities for school groups, nature programs for families and adults and Discovery Stations for all throughout the city. Volunteers’ backgrounds are as varied as the students they teach – the common thread is their desire to share nature with the greater Seattle community.
The goal of the Seattle Urban Nature Guide Program is to enhance, promote, and foster appreciation of nature by connecting citizens and students with their Seattle Parklands, by providing educational opportunities for all.
Training begins March 29. Deadline for applications is March 8. For additional information, please contact Penny Rose at email@example.com or 206-386–4250, or apply online.
We’re told much of the training is at West Seattle’s own Environmental Learning Center – Camp Long.
Thanks to Jim Bodoia for the underwater photo and video we’re sharing as a Sunday afternoon “extra.”
He explains, “I was lucky enough to run into a couple of Pacific Wolf Eels off Alki, not too far from our Liberty Statue … We call them ‘eels’ but they’re actually very long fish (Anarrhichthys ocellatus). I’m fairly certain that the tan one [seen in the video] is a young female. At first she just poked her head out and then she joined me for a swim. The blue one [top photo] is a bit older and didn’t want to come out and play.” Learn more about wolf eels via the Seattle Aquarium website.
After so much relatively good news for Puget Sound’s Southern Resident Killer Whales over the past year or so, some sad news tonight: Their newest calf is missing and presumed dead, the Center for Whale Research announced tonight:
“After an extended encounter with all members of J-pod on February 25, 2016, Center for Whale Research reluctantly announces that the newest member, designated J55, is missing and presumed dead,” said senior scientist Kenneth Balcomb.
J55 was first documented by NOAA Fisheries killer whale researchers on January 18, 2016, in Puget Sound. While exact maternity was never established, the calf was documented swimming in close proximity to both J14 (estimated to be 42 years old) and her daughter J37, a 15 year old mother of one (J49 born in 2012). It is also possible that J55 was the first offspring of J40, a 12 year old, and the youngest daughter of J14.
Prior to February 26, members of the federally endangered Southern Resident killer whales were last seen by Center for Whale Research (CWR) affiliates on January 19, 2016 when Mark Malleson encountered some members of J-pod in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and was able to photo-document fourteen of the whales (including members of the J14 matriline) despite the fact that the pod was widely dispersed across the strait and in less than optimal sea conditions.
“While J55 was not photographed on that day, it is the Center for Whale Research’s policy to wait to announce the loss of an individual whale until a thorough survey of the entire pod can be undertaken, yesterday provided that opportunity,” said CWR Research Director, Dr. Deborah Giles.
“Although the loss of any calf is a blow to the Southern Resident killer whales and a setback to the struggling population, it is not entirely surprising that one of the ‘baby boom’ calves did not survive its first few months; as many as 50% of newborn calves do not survive their first year. Nevertheless, the loss of this calf underscores the need to recover the whales’ primary prey base – Chinook salmon – if the Southern Resident population of whales is to survive and thrive,” said Giles.
Two wildlife sightings just in via text (206-293-6302 any time):
-Whale spotted off Alki about an hour ago – not an orca – the texter thought it might have been a gray whale; Orca Network had word of a humpback off Manchester (right across the Sound) early today. Here’s a handy guide to species ID, from The Whale Trail.
-Coyote strolling the sidewalk “on 48th between the intersection of Beach Drive and Lincoln Park Way and Graham.”
(WSB file photo of Jeff Hogan presenting Killer Whale Tales at a local school)
Want to know more about our local orcas? Here’s your chance. Jeff Hogan from West Seattle-headquartered Killer Whale Tales – who is often the first to share the word when orcas are visiting – has an invitation for you:
West Seattle residents – you’re invited to a special night out with Killer Whale Tales, a grassroots nonprofit that’s been hard at work for 12 years right here in our neighborhood of West Seattle.
Killer Whale Tales is empowering youth to protect Puget Sound by educating them about our beloved orca population. Our program brings environmental science directly into the classroom, at no cost to schools. In the past 10 years we’ve reached 100,000 students!
Join us Saturday, February 27, from 7 to 9 p.m. at C & P Coffee for a unique opportunity as an adult to immerse yourself in the same experience our kids have in the program! Founder Jeff Hogan will deliver his interactive presentation and guests are invited to learn about and identify the Southern Resident killer whales that call Puget Sound home. It’s an exciting time to talk about our orcas – as our local pod has welcomed eight babies this year!
Come relax, have a drink and connect with your neighbors! Event is free but donations are welcomed. RSVP at this link.
If you want a Facebook reminder, here’s the event page.
5:22 PM: Thanks to “Diver Laura” James for sharing her newest work – results of a dive in the “Alki Junkyard” area on Saturday. She says, “It is spring underwater with clusters of eggs everywhere.” Take three minutes to see for yourself!
P.S. The “Junkyard” area is off the west end of the public beach/promenade – approximately 64th SW.
ADDED 9:04 PM: More from Diver Laura:
Yesterday on our dive, Lamont pointed out a sea star to me and was surprised at how excited I got.
The sea star may be a large Leptasterias specimen, one that i have not seen previously in 25 years of diving at the site (that doesn’t mean they were not there, just that I didn’t see them). It is unclear how this might relate to the Sea Star Wasting Syndrome other than they may have been in hiding or always eaten by the bigger predatory stars. A cool thing about Leptasterias is that they are brooding sea stars, and if this one is female we may get to see her babies!
You can learn more about this special sea star here, at Chris Mah’s amazing echinoblog!
If you are a regular WSB visitor, you’ve seen many incredible wildlife photos by Mark Wangerin (including one just this morning). Again this year, he donated his images for a West Seattle Wildlife Calendar to raise money to help students at Chief Sealth International High School, where he used to teach. Laura Robb from Mark House Publishing, which made the calendars, sends the photo of Mark presenting the check for the proceeds to Sealth students and teacher Heather Griffin, along with this update:
It’s official! This year the 2016 West Seattle Calendar, with Mark Wangerin’s fabulous photos, sold out its run of 500 calendars and made a profit of $4,000 for Chief Sealth International High School.
Thanks to West Seattle retailers, student salespeople, teachers, and many, many individual purchasers, the students have had opportunities to expand and enrich their learning about the environment. The whole 9th grade class was able to participate in a hands-on project about water quality in the Duwamish River, and another group will be able to attend the environmental leadership conference, WAGIN, held this year at Ingraham High School.
Among the very helpful retailers were J.F. Henry, West Seattle Nursery, Emerald Water Anglers, West Seattle Thriftway, C&P Coffee, Page 2 Books (in Burien), and Capers. Also, LaFarge North America purchased several dozen calendars to support the sale.
Thanks to Steven for sharing that photo, taken around 2:30 pm from a condo window in the 1200 block of Alki Avenue SW, looking at the hillside behind the building.
Not necessarily applicable when you’re viewing from inside your home, but remember that the best thing to do if and when you see one is to try to scare it away, for its sake as well as yours. Read more in the State Fish and Wildlife Department’s “Living with Coyotes” guide.
Where else have West Seattleites seen coyotes? Almost everywhere. Check our archive here.
2:30 PM: Just got this report via text, and the Orca Network has a report too – orcas in Elliott Bay, likely closer to downtown than West Seattle. Let us know if you see them!
4:08 PM: We had no luck but Amy Shuster sent the photo we’ve just added, taken from the Bainbridge ferry – thank you!
We’re using that photo with permission of NOAA Fisheries–West Coast, which just reported late today that its researchers found another baby with J-Pod in Puget Sound: “Using photos taken by the researchers, the Center for Whale Research confirmed this is a new calf, designated J55. The calf was in close proximity to both J14 and J37, so we don’t know who the mother is just yet, and it may take a few encounters before we know. The calf seems to be just a few days old and in good condition.” NOAA had sad news too – what appeared to be a dead newborn calf spotted with J31, a 20-year-old female they say “has never successfully calved … It is estimated that at least 50% of calves do not reach their first birthday, so unfortunately this sad event is not unusual.” Before J55, the last orca-baby announcement was five weeks ago, when we got word of J54. This one is the ninth calf for the Southern Resident Killer Whales in a little more than a year.
(Added: Coyote photographed by Heidi near 37th/Hinds on Saturday)
4:25 PM: In recent days, we’ve published reports of coyote sightings in the greater Admiral area. Two more today, and they mention a coyote attacking a cat and possibly a chicken. One report is from 42nd/Bradford/Charlestown area, another from 44th and Spokane, no pictures with either so we don’t know if it’s the same one. One chicken is missing, possibly fleeing from the coyote – we’ll add the chicken’s photo shortly, as well as a photo of a coyote seen in the 37th/Hinds area on Saturday.
4:39 PM: Before we could even add the photo of “Big Mama” the chicken, we got another text saying she’s back and all the chickens are OK after all. Our coyote-sighting reports are archived here, newest-to-oldest.)
6:36 PM: A neighbor texted to say the coyote’s still in the area and headed toward California SW on Spokane at last report. If you still haven’t read this despite all the times we’ve linked it – scroll to the “Coyotes Too Close For Comfort?” advice. Trying to scare it away remains the best thing you can do for it as well as for potential prey in the area.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
After a year full of new hope for survival of Puget Sound’s resident orcas, what will 2016 bring?
On the first Thursday of the new year, The Whale Trail invites you to its next Orca Talk in West Seattle – this time looking at the ecology of the “transient” orcas who visit our waters; registration for the 7 pm presentation on January 7th at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) is open now.
If you’re interested, you’ll want to get your tickets fast, since the last Orca Talk of 2015 brought a sold-out full house. Good news is, it’s on video:
NOAA researcher Brad Hanson spoke at C & P on December 3rd to talk about the Southern Resident Killer Whales’ baby boom. At that time, the count stood at six in less than a year, and as if that wasn’t exciting enough, two more babies have been announced since then.
— Dave Stockman (@dbstock) December 31, 2015
ORIGINAL REPORT, 1:07 PM: That’s video just tweeted by Dave from SW Spokane Street, another midday sighting. We’ve published several reports recently (archived with seven-plus years of coyote news on WSB), but video is relatively rare, even in this time of ubiquitous video capability. Our customary link: What you should know about coyotes, including how to increase the chances we and they can keep a healthy distance from each other. And if you want it a bit more bluntly – here’s our 2013 story on what a federal wildlife agent wants you to know.
P.S. Coyote reports often inspire us to check around online to see what’s happening in other cities. We just found this notable report from Los Angeles, where a federal researcher – described, however, as “unfunded” – has been using GPS collars to track urban coyotes.
ADDED 9:45 PM: Another clip – this time from Ted Johnson, recorded at a bluffside home in west Admiral at sunset:
11:14 AM: Just got a text from Jeff Hogan of Killer Whale Tales that orcas are reported northbound between Lincoln Park and Alki Point – and per Ron‘s tweet, below, they are apparently toward the north end of that range:
— Ron Creel (@roncreel) December 31, 2015
Sometimes they change direction, stop or slow – let us know if you see them on this beautiful sunny last day of 2015! (206-293-6302, text or voice, is always the best way to reach us when something is happening *now*.)
11:42 AM: Update from Jeff – the aforementioned area is where he’s seeing them, between Alki Point and Bainbridge, headed north. But he advises viewing from a higher elevation; he’s been watching from the blufftop spot at Seattle/Sunset in North Admiral.
Yes, coyotes do emerge in the daytime. The photo is courtesy of Michael, who says, “Just saw this guy at 12:30 at 35th and Hinds!! End of 35th arterial.” [map] We also had a text about this time Saturday, mentioning one seen “running down at Admiral at 53rd.” Though they’re believed to do most hunting at night, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s “Living With Coyotes” one-sheet advises they do go out in daylight if they’re hungry. Remember, authorities advise that the best way to encourage them to keep their distance is to do your best to “haze” them if you see them – yell, wave your arms, throw rocks.
Archived WSB coyote reports are here, newest to oldest.
We publish reader reports about coyote sightings periodically, with educational intent as much as anything. Within the past half-hour, we received a text (on our 24/7 hotline, 206-293-6302) from someone saying there are “coyotes in the yards at 52nd/Charlestown.” Too dark for a photo, the texter says. Meantime, back on Monday, here’s what Rose saw:
First time I have seen a coyote traveling the open streets and sidewalks in broad daylight. This one looks like it has either completely shed all its fur or it has mange. Came up 39th and turned onto Lander Street cruising the neighborhood. I know for sure it was a coyote because my cat Manitou, who happened to be outside at the time, froze until he went by across the street, then ran like greased lightning for the back door and wanted IN with a very bushed tail. Wise cat, and something he never does about dog.
If you haven’t read this information about coexisting with coyotes before – it’s worth a look. Most important advice: If you see one, do what you can to scare it away, for its sake and yours – yell, wave your arms to look “big,” even throw rocks.
(From this month’s WS Art Walk, Mark Wangerin with the fundraiser calendars featuring his photos)
One more chance to buy the West Seattle Wildlife Calendar, with wonderful photos by Mark Wangerin (who’s shared many here on WSB in recent years) – tomorrow, 8 am-noon, at C & P Coffee Company (5612 California SW; WSB sponsor). Laura Robb from Mark House Publishing just sent word that students from Chief Sealth International High School (whose environmental-education programs benefit from calendar proceeds, and where Mark used to teach) will be there. Or – order online!
(Photo by Dave Ellifrit)
Puget Sound’s endangered orca pods – the Southern Resident Killer Whales – have another calf, the eighth in the past year. The announcement came tonight from the Center for Whale Research:
Another new Baby in J Pod!! Designated J54 – sex unknown.
Mother is J28, a twenty-two year old female Southern Resident Killer Whale in the Pacific Northwest. The mother had a previous baby designated J46, a female, born in 2009 and still surviving. This brings the known births of Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) to EIGHT since last December, and the total population of SRKW’s as of now to 84 known individuals. 1977 is the only previous year in the past forty years in which as many baby killer whales were born into this community of whales, and there were nine in that year. From calculations accounting for all reproductive age females, we estimate that typically up to nine babies could be produced each year, but there is usually a high rate of neonatal and perinatal mortality, and we have seen only three babies annually on average. In the years immediately following poor salmon years, we see fewer babies and higher mortality of all age cohorts.
The new baby, J54, was first seen on 1 December 2015 by several whale-watchers near San Juan Island, and photographed with J28 by Ivan Reiff, a Pacific Whale Watch Association member. However, the 1 December photographs were not conclusive in that they did not reveal distinct features of eyepatch and “saddle” pigment shape that could unequivocally rule out that it was not another baby being “baby sat” by J28. Today’s photographs in Haro Strait between San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island confirm the distinct features required for alpha-numeric designation. The new baby is estimated to be two and a half to three weeks old as of now. The family, including mother and sister, grandmother, aunt, uncles, and cousin, and other J pod members continued North in Haro Strait and Swanson Channel by sunset. Presumably, they are destined for the Strait of Georgia where J pod spent an extended amount of time last December.
It is clear that the SRKW population (in particular J pod) is investing in the future, and that survival of all of the new calves and their mothers and relatives depends upon a future with plentiful salmon, especially Chinook salmon, in the eastern North Pacific Ocean ecosystem. This may be problematic with pending and unfolding Climate Change that is anticipated to be detrimental to salmon survival, in the ocean and in the rivers. Warmer ocean waters are less productive, and rivers without continual water (no snow melt – rains runoff too quickly) and with warmer water are lethal to salmon. The Pacific Salmon Foundation and Long Live the Kings are non-profit organizations concerned with the declining survival of juvenile salmon in the Salish Sea, and the Center for Whale Research is a non-profit organization concerned with the survival and demographic vigor of the Southern Resident Killer Whales in the Salish Sea and coastally from Vancouver Island to California. Please get involved and support these important environmental organizations.
The SRKWs’ baby boom started late last year.
West Seattle’s Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network hopes you can help them find and help this injured pup. From Robin Lindsey:
I wanted to let you know that Seal Sitters’ first responders are on high alert for a harbor seal pup with a serious neck wound, most likely from a fishing net or line. Today, we received a call that a pup was on the inaccessible beach at Jack Block Park. The pup was positioned such that a rescue would have been difficult and most likely would have resulted him escaping into the water, but he was able to get some much-needed rest on the beach.
We would like to ask your readers to please be on the lookout for any seal pup on the beach and call our hotline @ 206-905-SEAL (7325) immediately if you see one. It is our fervent hope that we will be able to capture this pup and take him for treatment. Please note that only members of NOAA’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network are authorized to handle marine mammals. Please keep a distance (and dogs leashed) and call Seal Sitters.
Marine debris and other toxic trash pose grave dangers to marine wildlife. We have expanded a section of our website that offers more details about the dangers marine mammals face – and ways to help.
This is the third positively identified pup that Seal Sitters has responded to in the past week along Elliott Bay’s shoreline, after a strangely quiet pupping season.
Thanks so much – we appreciate the extra eyes on the beach!
At this past Thursday’s Orca Talk event, presented by The Whale Trail, Robin detailed just how “quiet,” and unusual, this season has been. That’ll be part of our upcoming report on the event.
(L123, spyhopping with L103; photo by Mark Malleson)
The Center for Whale Research has announced that Puget Sound’s orcas – the Southern Resident Killer Whales – have had their seventh baby in a year, and it was first spotted off West Seattle! Here’s the CWR announcement:
The seventh calf born into the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population in the last 12 months was confirmed yesterday. Photographs taken by CWR associate Mark Malleson confirmed the existence of a new calf born to L pod. The new calf will be designated L123.
This is the first documented calf of 12-year old L103 of the L4 matriline. L123 was first photo-documented on November 10th, 2015 by Alisa Lemire-Brooks and Sarah Hisong-Shimazu from Alki Point, West Seattle. CWR research assistants, Melisa Pinnow and Jane Cogan, later captured some distant shots on November 22nd near the Jordan River in B.C.
Due to poor visibility and unfavorable sea conditions, it took several weeks to confirm that there is indeed a new calf in L pod. We frequently use eye patches to positively identify new calves which can easily be obscured by poor conditions and surface waves.
While a new calf born to this struggling population is certainly cause to celebrate, it is important to remember that another SRKW also means another mouth to feed. With each new calf that is born, we continue to emphasize the need to focus on wild Chinook salmon restoration efforts. Especially the removal of obsolete dams that block wild salmon from their natal spawning habitat, such as those on the lower Snake River. We will continue to monitor the new calf in the next several weeks and provide updates whenever possible.
The November 10th orca visit was a popular one, our archives remind us – maybe you saw the calf and didn’t realize it at the time! The orca baby boom was a big topic at this past Thursday’s Orca Talk, presented by The Whale Trail; we will be publishing a story about it tomorrow – but even the researcher who presented the talk, Brad Hanson, didn’t have word of the calf then.
Thanks to the person who texted us to point out that the Orca Network has two reports of orcas in the Fauntleroy/Vashon vicinity within the past hour. Seems they were headed southbound, so out of range for most of the West Seattle shore by now, but what goes south must eventually head back north, so keep an eye out, and please let us know of any sightings – text/voice at 206-293-6302 is always the quickest way to get us, 24/7, if something is “happening now.”
Two sightings from Saturday, one with photos. First, from Karen in Arbor Heights:
This was taken in front of my neighbor’s house on 98th Ave SW between 37th & 39th (our backyards border Fauntleroy Park). This was my (indoor cat’s) first sighting of the year but normally we have a lot around here starting in October. I assume the warmer weather kept them away?
This coyote had black & gray fur but as you can see, they have lost (molted?) most of it so it must be freezing. At one point, he/she looked like a sweet fawn but I the doubt dog walkers thought that.
People stop & always are surprised they come out during the day. I see them head into the woods at night but I normally see them galloping all over the neighborhood during the day.
Hopefully, the family of seven raccoons living in my storm water drain stays safe (swimming in my community pool).
I have a virtual varmint zoo growing out of my backyard.
She said the coyote showed up around 1 pm on Saturday.
Via text, we received a report a few hours after that: “Very sick, mangy-looking coyote walking west on Thistle near 35th. Just now, very brave, must be desperate for food or warmth.”
Here again is the state’s info-sheet about coyotes and co-existing with them. Our online research suggests the fur problem would be more likely mange than molting, as the latter generally involves shedding winter coats when the weather warms up.