West Seattle, Washington
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.”
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.
WSB photos by Christopher Boffoli and Patrick Sand; reader contributions credited below
From shortly after the first text message came in early Sunday morning, until a Washington State Ferries crew finished a short tow early Sunday evening, we covered here how hundreds of people, responders and spectators, dealt with West Seattle’s first stranded whale in six years. We shared many scenes of the day in photos and video, but we have more to show – telling the story, really, of the people as much as of the whale (including, added 6:56 am, “Diver Laura” James‘s 360-degree video): Read More
8:28 AM: If you want to watch the tribal canoes’ departure for the next stop on the Paddle to Nisqually journey, get down to Alki fast. The first canoe has just departed, after its skipper called out thanks to the Muckleshoots for hosting them here while they travel to the Nisqually Nation. They’re headed to Tacoma, so you should be able to see them off Beach Drive and points south, too.
8:48 AM: The pace of the departures is picking up.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) July 28, 2016
9:35 AM: Most of the canoes have headed out, and the flotilla of motorized spectator/support boats is departing too. More photos after we get back to HQ.
10:48 AM: Thanks to Harley Broe for this view from Beach Drive:
1:55 PM: And David Hutchinson shares these views from Alki Point:
Yes, that’s a real buoy in the background of the photo immediately above. The usually-annual canoe journey, as explained on the Paddle to Nisqually site’s “about” page (where you’ll also find the history), is for “… bringing together natives and non-natives with a common goal of providing a drug and alcohol free event and offering pullers a personal journey towards healing and recovery of culture, traditional knowledge and spirituality. … Canoe Journey gatherings are rich in meaning and cultural significance. Canoe families travel great distances as their ancestors did and participating in the journey requires physical and spiritual discipline. At each stop, canoe families follow certain protocols, they ask for permission to come ashore, often in their native languages. At night in longhouses there is gifting, honoring and the sharing of traditional prayers, drumming, songs and dances. Meals, including evening dinners of traditional foods, are provided by the host nations.”
This year’s journey will end in southernmost Puget Sound on Saturday, where tens of thousands of people are expected to welcome the canoe families as they land. One week of ceremonies and celebrations will follow.
(UPDATED 7:33 PM with Thursday’s departure time)
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) July 27, 2016
1:08 PM: That’s the scene at Alki Beach as we write this a few minutes past 1 pm, with canoes continuing to arrive at the Muckleshoot Tribe-hosted stop along the route of the Paddle to Nisqually. As previewed here Monday, up to 100 canoe families are expected from tribes all over the region – they left the Suquamish Tribe-hosted stop on the west side of the Sound this morning, and will be here overnight until heading out tomorrow. Dozens are here already, some already hoisted up and carried onto the sand, some in queue on the waterline.
1:25 PM: The line of canoes continues to stretch further westward. Hundreds of people are on the beach, some from canoes that have already been brought ashore, some from support crews, plus spectators. This is the first time the canoes have come to Alki during the annual journey since 2012.
4:51 PM: More photos added.
We’re heading back to the beach for a late-in-the-day view as well as the latest on tomorrow’s departure plan.
7:33 PM: With the visitors all celebrating with the Muckleshoots tonight, we checked with security watching over the canoes at Alki, regarding tomorrow’s departure time. He said 8 am. They head to Point Defiance in Tacoma tomorrow, the map shows.
(2011 photo by David Hutchinson as canoe families arrived at Alki)
As first reported here last Friday, tribal canoe families from throughout the region are stopping at Alki Beach on Wednesday, during the Paddle to Nisqually journey. It will be the first such stop at Alki since 2012. Today, we have new information about the timeline: The canoes heading here are coming from a west Sound stop hosted by the Suquamish Tribe, whose schedule shows them leaving around 8 am Wednesday. The Alki stop here is hosted by the Muckleshoot Tribe, whose newspaper editor John Loftus shared this information with WSB:
The Muckleshoot Tribe will be hosting the 2016 Canoe Journey at Alki Beach on Wednesday. The various canoe routes from both sides of Vancouver Island, Georgia Strait, and the Olympic Peninsula will converge at Alki and, thus, all of the canoes that will land at the final destination — Nisqually (Olympia) — will also land here.
Eighty to 100 canoes are expected, and Muckleshoot tribal representatives are scheduled to begin welcoming them to come ashore at noon. The tribe will be hosting, honoring, and feeding about 1,000 guests at their reservation between Auburn and Enumclaw afterward. Singing, dancing, and various honoring ceremonies will continue throughout the evening. The canoes will return to Alki Beach and depart for the Puyallup Reservation on Thursday morning. This is also quite a sight to see. All are welcome.
It’ll be happening on the beach, east of the Bathhouse. The canoes’ journey will end Saturday at the south end of Puget Sound, and a weeklong gathering will follow.
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.
A month and a half after a community meeting (WSB coverage here) on whether to take over a King County-owned beachfront home at 8923 Fauntleroy Way SW, the Seattle Parks recommendation is in – they support moving ahead with a swap of sorts that would in effect expand Cove Park next to the Fauntleroy ferry dock. Here’s the news release we just received:
After considering public comments, input from a public meeting, and City policy, Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) has recommended that King County Wastewater Treatment Division move forward with the street vacation request which would involve the transferring of the King County owned property located at 8923 Fauntleroy Way SW to the City of Seattle. Having made this recommendation, the next step in the process involves King County Wastewater Treatment Division applying for a street vacation. This is one of many steps in the process prior to the Seattle City Council making a final decision on the street vacation and taking ownership of the property.
In 2015, the King County Wastewater Treatment Division finished an upgrade to the Barton Pump Station by the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal to accommodate West Seattle’s growing population. To build the new pump station, King County acquired the property just to the north of SW Barton Street for use during construction. Once the project was finished, King County began the process to surplus the property. With the City expressing an interest in the property, this raised the possibility of trading the Fauntleroy Way SW property to the City for a partial vacation of SW Barton St. (under the county’s pump station) which the County is interested in obtaining.
This potential trade is not solely an SPR issue, but rather a City issue that needs the input of multiple departments for an adequate review. The comprehensive City review required by a street vacation application will help provide the information necessary to fully inform the public, address unanswered questions, and lead to an informed decision by City Council.
The street vacation process will be run by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and will include plenty of opportunities for further public input and dialogue.
For more information on this proposal, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/projects/cove_park/addition.htm or contact Chip Nevins, SPR, at email@example.com or 206-233-3879.
The possibility of Seattle taking over the county-owned house and 35-foot-wide strip of beach (aerial map here) was first explained publicly at April’s Fauntleroy Community Association meeting (WSB coverage here).
People come to Alki Beach from all over the region – but not always just to hang out. We just received this report about one group who visited Alki recently specifically to give the beach some TLC. And they have a request for you:
5th-grade students from Beacon Hill International School did a beach cleanup at Alki Beach on June 22nd. These students are part of the school Global Leadership Team and spent all year working on sustainability education at their school and in their community. The students had just held a 30-day single-use plastic ban at the school and choose to culminate the event by picking up plastics and other garbage along the beach. Students collected mostly plastic bottle caps, cigarette butts and a variety of small plastic particles that washed ashore during their low-tide cleanup.
The team would like to remind beachgoers this busy holiday weekend of the critical impact plastics have on our oceans and sea life and encourage everyone to refrain from using single-use plastic products, such as straws, cups and lids, cutlery or single use water bottles, whenever possible. Instead, bring your own reusable bottles, silverware, and containers, and take all your garbage with you. Help keep our beaches and seas healthy!
The students would also like to thank the folks at Pagliacci Pizza in West Seattle for donating pizzas and fully compostable products for the cleanup.
The Seattle Aquarium beach naturalists are out again this weekend, with the return of low-low tides; we took this photo overlooking Constellation Park, where tomorrow, there’s a special addition, mentioned on the program’s home page: Sign-language interpretation will be available 10 am-1 pm on the beach here, south of Alki Point. (Tomorrow’s tide bottoms out at 10:38 am, -2.7 feet.)
Thanks to the texter who sent that photo from Lowman Beach, where what they describe as “upsetting” damage has just been done to its longstanding driftwood stack, upon which many a sunset viewer has sat, many a child has climbed. The Seattle Fire 911 log shows a one-engine “illegal burn” callout around quarter to 6 this morning (and just as we were about to publish this, an investigation callback minutes ago). For obvious reasons – all underscored by this photo – fires are only allowed in approved fire pits on Seattle beaches, and in West Seattle, Alki Beach is the only place you’ll find those (some still flout the rules, and “illegal burn” calls on the 911 log are not uncommon).
The skies and water were both near-tropical blue by the time the Seafair Pirates arrived at Alki Beach this afternoon – earlier than expected, closer to 1 than 2:
With their new Captain Kidd, Seth Brown, in the lead, the landing party hopped off their craft and into waist-deep water to get to the crowd:
We noticed that various members of the greeting party were ready:
No mayoral ceremony after all, but Captain Kidd seized the key to the city just the same:
The official Pirates Landing celebration continues until 6 pm, with live music (here again is the schedule) as well as rides:
More photos a bit later.
ADDED 10:08 PM: And here they are!
As always, cannon fire and the resulting smoke preceded the Pirates’ arrival ashore. We caught the West Seattle Hi-Yu contingent preparing for the big boom, though the Pirates eventually stormed the beach with smiles:
Next scheduled West Seattle appearance by the Seafair Pirates – the Grand Parade on July 23rd!
P.S. Bonus photos by David Hutchinson, ahead (click “read more” if you’re viewing this from the WSB home page): Read More
Thanks to Chris Frankovich for sharing the photo from today’s low tide – -1.3 feet just after 11 am – in The Arroyos. With tomorrow’s full moon, the tide will be out even further the next four days (see the chart here) and Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists will be at Constellation and Lincoln Parks daily through Wednesday (see the dates/times here)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
On the city’s Shoreline Street Ends map, it’s “SW Barton Street.”
To the community that has cared for it since 1999, it’s Cove Park, a small strip of public beach on Fauntleroy Cove, immediately north of the state-ferry dock.
For three years earlier this decade, it was off-limits, until the Barton Pump Station Upgrade Project was complete – a project that turned Cove Park into a staging area.
Preparing for the project, King County – which runs the pump station – bought the 68-year-old beachfront bungalow next to Cove Park and its 14,000-square-foot (counting tidelands) lot for $950,000 in 2008.
Community members say they were told the little white house would be somebody’s home again, once the project was over. Now, a different possibility has the little white house at the core of a tug of war, one that could be heard in the impassioned voices of those who spoke at a recent community meeting.
Next Tuesday night brings the public meeting Seattle Parks promised for community comment on its potential “trade” with King County for 8923 Fauntleroy Way SW, a 35-foot-wide strip of beach with a single-family house, adjacent to community-maintained Cove Park, which is immediately north of the Fauntleroy ferry dock. The county bought the house to use as a construction office and staging area during the Barton Pump Station Upgrade project, which was finished last year. It’s talking with the city about trading the house for use as parkland if in exchange it gets a street vacation for land that’s part of the pump station. We covered a Parks presentation about this at the April meeting of the Fauntleroy Community Association. At its May meeting, FCA decided not to take a position on the possible trade but did commit to creating and circulating a “fact sheet” about the situation, and that’s what you can review at the top of this story.
The meeting, meantime, is at 6:30 pm Tuesday (May 24th) in the Emerald Room at The Hall at Fauntleroy on the south side of Fauntleroy Schoolhouse (9131 California SW). In-person input always has a big impact, but if you absolutely can’t make it, you can comment via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The beach at Lincoln Park is cleaner tonight thanks to the work of a group from Arbor Heights Elementary. Elise Olson shares the report and photos:
When underwater photographer and author Annie Crawley with Dive Into Your Imagination came to speak to our students a few weeks ago about problems facing our ocean including the proliferation of plastics, which is killing ocean life, 5th graders in Ms. Nall’s class were disturbed by what they learned and set out to do something about it. Today they organized a cleanup at Lincoln Park. 25+ classmates and family members showed up with garbage bags and gloves to collect debris in the park and along the stretch of beach from the waterfront swings to the pool. They found lots of straws, wrappers, bits of Styrofoam, rope, bottles and even a pair of glasses and a shoe!
Elise adds that Ms. Nall “has been a fabulous role model in teaching her kids to move away from just talking and reading about the problems our planet faces and begin to make changes so they become commonplace and be more cognizant of how our actions (AND PURCHASES) have an impact on our world.”
What goes into the Sound can end up inside the wildlife living in its waters – you might recall the Arroyos gray whale as just one example.
(WSB file photo from low tide at Constellation Park)
Spring and summer are rolling this way, sure as the tide, and if you love being out on our beaches, here’s a unique volunteer opportunity:
Volunteer with the Seattle Aquarium at a beach near you!
Why do barnacles stand on their heads? What do sea stars like to eat? How do moon snails lay their eggs? Learn to answer these and other fun questions by volunteering as a Seattle Aquarium Beach Naturalist this summer. Naturalists receive training in the spring, and then spend three low-tide days educating beach visitors about inter-tidal life and beach etiquette at one of eleven Puget Sound beaches, including Constellation Park and Lincoln Park in West Seattle.
Training begins on March 2.
If interested, please email email@example.com, call 206-693-6189, or visit seattleaquarium.org/beach-naturalist. Registration required.
See this flyer for more info.
If you’re thinking about a beach walk late today or tonight now that the rain’s lifted – you don’t have to worry about contaminated water along Alki Point.
Four days after the sewage-pipe leak that brought emergency repairs and beach closure south of Alki and beyond, the King County Wastewater Treatment District reports the water quality has “returned to normal” near the leak site, and that while health authorities closed Alki Beach Park itself to swimming as a precaution, its water tested at normal levels all along.
According to county spokesperson Doug Williams, the county estimates 14,200 gallons of wastewater/sewage spilled before they started work to stop and fix the leak last Friday near 63rd SW/Beach Drive SW. It was caused by a failed joint seal. After they fixed the pipe, it was buried in concrete, and now they’re restoring the landscaping by the south end of Constellation Park (a crew was still there when we went by an hour ago). The sewer line there, almost 4 feet across, pipes West Seattle wastewater to the West Point treatment plant across Elliott Bay.
(Video/photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand, unless otherwise credited)
Clear sky, 33-degree air, 50-degree water, and hundreds of cheery participants combined for this year’s West Seattle Polar Bear Swim at Alki Beach this morning. Here’s the leader of the countdown you hear in the video, organizer Mark Ufkes:
He went in wearing his “I (Heart) White Center” T-shirt. As usual, the crowd was peppered with costumes and uniforms – and it’s not a Polar Bear Swim without the softball umpires:
Another group went prehistoric:
The most popular “costume” generally involved head/face gear of some kind:
(This photo and next one by Scott Nelson)
The Olympics provided a beautiful backdrop:
To get the internal temperature back up afterward, free chowder courtesy of Duke’s (right across the street from the gathering spot for the “swim”):
Can’t guarantee the sunshine but the day and time are locked in – so mark your calendar for New Year’s Day 2017!
P.S. Our clip from the sidewalk gives you more of an idea of how many people were on the beach before, during, and after:
(Reviewing our links, you might be surprised to see it’s been sunny on NYD more often than not!)
(WSB photo by Patrick Sand)
Again this year, a doubleheader night for the Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship in West Seattle began at Lowman Beach, right around sunset. The view is different from the nighttime stops, and you could still see the Spirit of Seattle as well as its lights. Onshore:
(This photo and next two by Trileigh Tucker)
The Lowman crowd enjoyed a bit of a break in the rain, and a little sunset color even broke through the clouds:
At both Lowman and Alki, Seattle Parks provided a bonfire:
Among those who appreciated their work: Sarah, who shared this photo:
Sarah wrote in her e-mail, “We had a great time watching the Christmas ships go by tonight at Lowman! Thanks to all who brought out hot drinks & built the big fire!”
From Lowman (where you might be able to watch next year from the observation deck atop the new Murray CSO facility across the street) the Christmas Ship headed to Alki Beach Park, where a bonfire also awaited:
(This photo and next three, by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
Inside the Bathhouse, a chance to get treats:
On the east side of the Bathhouse, Christmas Hope performed as an opening act:
Then, as rainshowers drifted in and out, the Christmas Ship sailed up – with The Dickens Carolers singing for 20 minutes until it was time to go, leaving West Seattle for the last time this season.
If you missed it, you can hear the performance (for the next day or two) in the archived video from our live Periscope phonecast. The rest of the Christmas Ship’s regional schedule, nightly through Christmas Eve-Eve, is online here.
(Right-center, Doug Marsano from KC Wastewater Treatment District, talking with residents)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The latter is what some Beach Drive-area residents say they’re still dealing with, and some find it difficult to believe it’s just rotting sea lettuce. So they’ve been talking to the King County Wastewater Treatment Division, which sent reps out Wednesday afternoon to talk with neighbors.
KCWTD took the complaints seriously enough to run tests in its system, looking for a telltale gas that would be present if something was getting out of the system and into the air. They didn’t find it, they told the neighbors:
The tests were conducted by King County odor investigators using gauges installed inside four manholes near your homes that detect the presence of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas. H2S gas smells like rotten eggs and is usually what causes people to notice odors coming from the sewer. If the sewer system was creating odors, the gauges would detect extended periods of time when heavy concentrations of H2S were present in the manhole that could escape to the environment.
Testing began on Thursday, September 24 and continued through Sunday, September 27. County odor investigators reviewed data from the gauges Monday, September 28. There are no indications that increased levels of H2S gas were present at any of the four manholes during the four-day testing period.
That wasn’t much consolation – some say the stink is worse than anything they’ve experienced in years, even decades along/near the shore. “It was unbearable this morning,” said one neighbor.
Joining KCWTD community liaison Doug Marsano for the gathering along the sidewalk across from Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook, in the late afternoon sunshine, was marine biologist Kim Stark, who works on water-quality issues with the county Department of Natural Resources.
She said this area’s not alone in the smelly siege – areas north of Elliott Bay have been dealing with it too, including Carkeek.
While skeptical neighbors wondered how it could continue through high tides and low, stormy weather and sunshine, Stark explained that the water is warmer this year, and that’s fueled the sea lettuce’s growth.
It’s not just pieces of sea lettuce on the shore, she added – mats of decaying sea lettuce, kelp, and other marine matter have been floating offshore, creating literal hotbeds of odor generation.
So what can we do about it? one neighbor asked.
Right now, the county reps said, not much. State permits would be needed to remove what’s rotting. And those would take a while. They mentioned the community of Dumas Bay in South King County, where the city of Federal Way got involved. And, as Beach Drive Blog (whose owners were also at the meeting) reminded readers, Fauntleroy Cove dealt with this for years, too, though we haven’t heard much lately.
In the WSB archives, we found a 2008 mention of a company that was expecting to remove sea lettuce in Fauntleroy and Dumas, to turn into biofuels.
(Published on WSB, September 2008: State Ecology Department photo of test sea-lettuce removal in Dumas Bay)
Our further research revealed that the company, Blue Marble, has long since changed its focus and moved to Montana, so it’s not an option now.
The neighbors vowed to organize and see what they can do about ensuring removal is an option next year – researching and applying for permits, for starters. In the short run, cooler weather – and most importantly, cooler water – seems to be their main hope of relief from the nose-wrinkling nuisance, but that might take another month.
(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.