After two reports in the past half-hour, we’re putting this out as an alert. While river otters spend a lot of time on land, they’re not usually seen as far from the water as 35th/Fauntleroy/Avalon. One report was from Erin, who wrote, “I SWEAR I just saw a river otter running through the 7-11 parking lot on 35th and Avalon!” shortly after we got a note from Cait that began, “I know this might sound crazy but I’m pretty positive I just spotted an otter alone on Fauntleroy next to the WS Bridge.” So if you’re in that area – be on the lookout!
P.S. If you haven’t seen a river otter before – here’s what they look like. Learn more about them via another great state-produced Living With Wildlife info-sheet.
12:18 PM: Whale-watching alert on this sunny Sunday: Orcas are back in central Puget Sound and headed southbound past West Seattle – Trileigh Tucker just called from Lincoln Park, where she has them in view.
12:33 PM: Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail just called with an update; she’s also watching the orcas from Lincoln Park and says they are headed “slowly south” – they’re now south of the Fauntleroy-Vashon ferry lane.
ADDED EARLY MONDAY: Alisa Lemire Brooks, expert whale-watcher and photographer, shared this video via the Orca Network Facebook page, from the Sunday visit:
Thanks to two photographers for sharing beautiful views of bald eagles in West Seattle this past week. Top photo is by Leroy Lewis, from the 3000 block of 50th SW; next three, by Gary Jones at Alki Point:
Think you know everything about bald eagles? Check the Audubon Society‘s info page!
(October 2012 reader photo, by Katina, taken in an Admiral neighborhood)
An unexpected phone call this New Year’s Eve: Aaron the federal wildlife agent called to ask us to share another reminder about keeping your dog(s) safe from coyotes. “We are seeing an increase in coyote calls concerning predation on small dogs at night in West Seattle,” he said. “It’s easily prevented by going out with the small dogs at night as they are let out to relieve themselves. It sounds like simple advice, because it is, and can really help keep your small dogs safe. Removing this attraction can help keep coyotes focused on more natural food sources.”
This is the same advice Aaron offered in another phone call last July, which followed his appearance before the Highland Park Action Committee two months earlier. As we wrote then, he says that even dogs staying in their own yards might be “coaxed” by coyotes to come to the edge of the yard, where the larger canines can grab them. As for cats? As with dogs, if they’re outside and unaccompanied, they’re at risk.
He told us tonight he wants to get this advice out again “to (help) keep coyotes wild in our part of the city.” And they’re out there – if you haven’t seen our coverage before, five years of sightings are archived here). Sightings we’ve heard about this month include:
*Early morning, near Fauntleroy Church/YMCA
*Late morning, 9700 block 30th SW, “jumped our back fence and headed east towards 28th and Safeway”
*Early evening, California Lane (North Admiral)
*Early afternoon, crossing Fauntleroy Way at SW Rose Street: “Moving up from the park into the neighborhood”
What if you come face to face with one? Best advice: Scare it away. That too will help keep them wild, which is what’s best for them, us, and our pets, experts stress, over and over again. More advice here.
The photo (click for a larger view) is by Katheryne Martinez, who shared it on the WSB Facebook page, asking for help identifying what kind of fish the cormorants were fighting over. We seem to have a winning answer, “sculpin” – though opinions varied from there – but we wanted to share the photo here too. Katheryne caught the cormorants on camera near Don Armeni Boat Ramp.
3:08 PM: Latest update on orcas headed this way: Donna from The Whale Trail says they are still reported southbound, off Richmond Beach, so whether we see them here before nightfall depends on how fast they are moving, among other factors.
4:07 PM UPDATE: Still north of Elliott Bay, according to commenters on the Orca Network Facebook page.
(Click any photo for a larger view)
If you didn’t get a chance to go look for orcas when we published word this morning that they were heading this way – here’s the next best thing. (Or maybe better – we went to look and missed them anyway!) West Seattleite Trileigh Tucker, our first tipster again today, got great photos, including breaches.
They are of course beautiful simply swimming by:
The ferry in the top photo is one of the bigger ones on the Seattle-Bainbridge run. This time of year, orca sightings here usually mean they’re chasing salmon runs to chow down on. For some orca facts and figures – go here. And thanks to everyone who shared sighting info this morning/afternoon, so that others had a chance to go look for them too!
10:30 PM: Mike Russell is also sharing photos – here’s a link to his Facebook gallery, for starters.
10:23 AM: Thanks to Trileigh Tucker for sending word that orcas are expected to be passing this way again – this time, northbound, reported off Maury Island less than an hour ago. Please share the news if you see them. Meantime, remember Trileigh’s awesome photo of orcas off a Fauntleroy-Vashon ferry last weekend? See the view of them FROM the ferry, via Melissa Burks‘ album on Facebook.
11:28 AM: Donna from The Whale Trail says they’re visible without binoculars from Me-Kwa-Mooks.
4:25 PM: Trileigh shared spectacular photos, and we have published them separately.
Trileigh Tucker shares that image from Saturday’s orca sightings – click it for a larger view, in which you’ll see people crowding the outside deck to watch the orcas clearly in view right alongside the state ferry Issaquah on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth run. No word of any local sightings so far today – any time you see one (or more), please let us know so we can help share the news.
4:15 PM: Received this photo from Barbara Bonner, taken from Lincoln Park on Saturday:
You can also click that photo for a larger view.
9:03 AM: Orcas are back in our waters again today – Claire reports a sighting from the Lincoln Park shoreline, with the whales heading south, as of about 15 minutes ago. (Please let us know if you spot them, even with a text (or voice call if you prefer) to 206-293-6302. Thanks! (P.S. Wildlife watcher/advocate Trileigh Tucker tells us she’s heard a report too.)
1:02 PM: Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail called a short time ago and said orcas are
southNORTHbound, likely visible soon from Alki Point area. She’ll be in the area with binoculars.
Thanks to Trileigh Tucker, wildlife-watcher/photographer extraordinaire, for a note about what apparently are two groups of orcas headed northbound past, and approaching, our shores – parallel with Southworth and with Seahurst. Please let us know if you see/have seen them!
(Photo by Robin Lindsey)
Seal Sitters‘ Robin Lindsey says this seal-pup season has already had more sightings, and more deaths, than prior seasons, and it’s not over yet. This morning, sad news about one pup many watched the week before Thanksgiving:
“Moonshadow” came ashore at Duwamish Head (commonly known as Anchor Park) every night that week except one. Pretty much like clockwork, we could expect him about 6ish in the evening, returning to the Sound around daylight the next morning. Volunteers taped off access to the small beach west of the pier each evening.
As the week wore on, we began to suspect that he had some health issues as his weight began to drop and he had nasal discharge.
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.
Header image by Nick Adams. ABSOLUTELY NO WSB PHOTO REUSE WITHOUT SITE OWNERS' PERMISSION.
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