(WSB photo, taken Saturday)
We noticed those sandbags at Alki Bathhouse over the weekend, apparently awaiting the next round of “king tides,” the very-high high tides that happen a few times in winter. They’re coming up later this week; according to our favorite tide chart (aside from the short-range one on the WSB Weather page, that is), they are:
* 12.8 feet, 5:54 am Wednesday, January 21
* 13.0 feet, 6:31 am Thursday, January 22
* 13.2 feet, 7:10 am Friday, January 23
* 13.2 feet, 7:50 am Saturday, January 24
* 13.0 feet, 8:32 am Sunday, January 25
The Alki/Beach Drive/Harbor Avenue shores are classic places to go see the high water in West Seattle; you can also see the tides’ effects on the Duwamish River by joining either or both of two events, Friday and Saturday mornings – details are on our partner site The South Park News. Right now, the forecast is rainy, but not windy, so you’re not likely to see anything too dramatic, certainly not like last November!
Chief Sealth International High School ninth-grader Jessica e-mailed to say she and a group of classmates plan a beach cleanup on Saturday afternoon, and that your help is welcome:
For my Language Arts class, we are working on ways to spread awareness about ocean plastic pollution. My group chose to pick up trash at the beach in Lincoln Park. We’ll be there on January 17th around 12 to 4 pm. … We’d love to get help and have the community get involved! We’ll be by the picnic shelter north of the bathrooms.
Jessica, Alyssa, Hamdi, ZamZam, and Nathalie (Chief Sealth students)
If you’d like to share their invitation, remember that hovering over the “ShareThis” icon below any WSB stories gives you options for social-media sharing on a wide variety of services or even just e-mailing the link (click the three-dot icon).
(WSB video/photos, unless otherwise credited)
Though the New Year had arrived 10 hours earlier, for hundreds, it wasn’t 2015 until the annual Polar Bear Swim at Alki Beach. This year, the water was warmer than the air – ~50 degrees and 32 degrees respectively. Whatever the temperature or weather conditions, some wouldn’t miss it, like Kayleen Dunson and her fellow softball umpires (join them on the field this year!), with the morning’s most-patriotic photo op:
Water-testing was called for, too.
Of course, Seahawks fans were in view …
… after on-the-beach decorating:
Not as many costumed swimmers this year, but festive hats were in evidence:
(That photo and next by Russ Walker, whose Flickr gallery is here)
Big smiles too – this one’s from Frank Gross of Thunder Road Guitars (WSB sponsor):
Finally it was time for the countdown – here’s organizer Mark Ufkes with the megaphone:
And … they’re off!
(Photo by Craig Young)
Post-plunge, organizer Ufkes was of course among those emerging triumphantly:
Spectators caught it all:
Awaiting the newly soaked Polar Bears, chowder from Duke’s across the street, and info about the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s upcoming Totem Cruise:
(Photo courtesy SWSHS/Clay Eals)
That’s SWSHS volunteer Liz Day in the foreground; in the background, Duke’s GM Greg Green and server Autumn Kline with the chowder. Whether you swam, stayed on shore, or stayed home, a Happy 2015 to all!
One more story in keeping with what seems to be today’s theme (water/beaches/wildlife):
At midday on Christmas, Marianne sent word that Seal Sitters were out on the beach at Lincoln Park, guarding a pup. Before we could get out of the house, she sent the photo you see above, with a followup – the seal had returned to the water shortly after SS responder Dana arrived. That wasn’t the end of the story, though. We finally went to Lincoln Park for a walk (which resulted in these pictures) shortly before sunset. As we entered from the Lowman side, we passed the Seal Sitters group (including David and Eilene Hutchinson, recognizable from so many other volunteer endeavors) departing – seems the pup had made a comeback for a while. And now, you can read the full story of seal pup Silverbell and the humans who helped it, via the newest update on the Seal Sitters “Blubberblog.”
'King tide' scene: At Seacrest, floating Water Taxi dock almost level with non-floating fishing pier pic.twitter.com/l1ra1WNrwh
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 26, 2014
As noted here last night, we’re in the midst of three days at which the morning high tides are part of this year’s “king tides.” So we went out today to see what that might bring. The photo above, from Seacrest, was about as dramatic as it got. (added) At nearby Don Armeni, the water was almost up to parking lot/drive-path level:
We checked Alki a few minutes later, and the water wasn’t even over the seawall – see for yourself in this video shared by Joe Szilagyi, who was also out investigating:
Nothing at all like the wind-fueled post-Thanksgiving sights on Alki (and no doubt waterfront residents are relieved!). Tomorrow morning’s high tide, just after 9 am, will also be 13 feet, and that’s it for the official “king tides” until a stretch in January.
(Photos taken Christmas evening at Lincoln Park, by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
Lots of people out walking the shoreline in Lincoln Park just before tonight’s sunset. If you’re looking for a reason to go out for a walk tomorrow morning, here’s one: The “king tides” are back, and tomorrow is the second of three mornings bringing the highest tide of the month – 13 feet tomorrow, at 8:22 am. With calm weather expected, you might even see someone out for a closer look.
(Just to be clear, this round of “king tides” is arriving in the morning; our photos were taken today at Lincoln Park around 4 pm, when the tide was about as close to average as it can get, not high, not low.)
Thanks to Don Brubeck for sharing the photo of that Christmasy creation on Alki – and thanks to the artist (whoever you are) for creating it!
Another round of tidal extremes has arrived – if you’re up for a late-night low-tide walk, it’s the lowest tide of the month just after 11 pm (-2.7), and almost that low tomorrow night (-2.5) at quarter till midnight. The morning high tides this week are the “king tides” awaited each year, and the <strong>National Weather Service has a Coastal Flood Advisory out for some possible overflow tomorrow: The predicted high tide is 12.6 feet at 6:19 am tomorrow, building toward 13.0 high tides at 7:39 am on Christmas Day (that’ll be the morning high tide for the two days afterward, too). Read more about it on the city’s Convergence Zone website.
That 475-foot stretch of seawall at Emma Schmitz Overlook along Beach Drive is set for replacement in the next few years – but the city and federal agencies working on it are looking for public comment right now. Beach Drive Blog has been following the plans for the project, and this morning, the official news release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has arrived:
The U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District, has partnered with the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department to design and implement a coastal storm damage reduction project under Section 103 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1962, as amended. The public comment period for this project runs through Dec. 31.
Emma Schmitz Overlook is located at 4503 Beach Drive SW, south of Alki Point in Seattle. The site includes a seawall built around 1927 that has deteriorated over time. Currently coastal storms and erosion threaten public infrastructure located in and around the seawall, including a 54-inch King County sewer main, a major public arterial, city park property and other underground utilities. The recommended plan includes construction of a soldier pile seawall parallel to the shoreline throughout the study area. The new seawall would be a few feet higher and seaward of the existing seawall. This would provide protection against damages caused by coastal storm events that occur in Puget Sound.
Remember those wild waves at Alki on Saturday?
One inch of sand, David points out. Plus plenty of driftwood:
The afternoon high tides for the next few days are about as high as they were over the weekend – but without the strong north winds and extra stormwater, they’re just, well, high tides.
If you didn’t get to Alki today, to join everyone gawking at the waves and spray, here’s a taste of what it was like, courtesy of your neighbors who sent us video and photos to share (in addition to the ones we published in coverage earlier today). First, two video clips so you can see and hear the wild waves – above, a one-minute series of cuts by Mark; below, a longer look from Jeff Miller:
(Video by Jeff Miller)
This seemed at least twice as ferocious as what we had found at the beach on Friday (as shown here) – fueled by a faster, colder north wind.
Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza‘s namesake artwork was a popular subject, at times appearing in danger of getting knocked down by the waves dwarfing it. David Hutchinson captured a rainbow in a slightly quieter moment of spray:
SEE A DOZEN-PLUS MORE VIEWS – from surfing to posing – after the jump:
A sea star wasn’t always such a memorable sight on a tidepool walk. Saturday night, though, we were glad to hear some were spotted in Constellation Park during a nighttime low-tide walk with Seattle Aquarium naturalists. The photo is by Antonio Ventimiglia, shared by Tom, who spotted the exploration event (sorry we didn’t have it on our calendar; turns out two more are coming up in December and January, and tonight you might just want to explore the beach yourself, as the tide will be out to -2.3 feet around 11:20 pm Sunday). Back to the sea stars; you’ll recall a new report earlier this week suggested a not-so-new virus might be factoring into the massive die-off. “Diver Laura” James, who has long been watching and investigating the sea star situation as a “citizen scientist,” went back to survey in Cove 1 near Seacrest shortly afterward; she shares this video spanning 8 years, from a time of plentiful starfish, to now:
P.S. Laura was out whale-watching Saturday afternoon, as were many others – here’s her video, featuring a multitude of spouts as the group of orcas swam in nearby waters.
West Seattle windstorm aftermath: Lowman Beach cleared to reopen after sewage overflow during power outageOctober 29, 2014 at 1:53 pm | In Environment, West Seattle beaches, West Seattle news | 5 Comments
(WSB photo: Excavation site at midday today)
As the excavation continues at the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project site across from Lowman Beach Park, another reminder of what the future million-gallon tank is for – King County announced that Saturday night’s windstorm led to a power outage and another overflow from Murray Pump Station, into Puget Sound.
We’re still waiting to hear the amount of sewage that (updated) 200,000 gallons of sewage overflowed; county Wastewater Treatment spokesperson Annie Kolb-Nelson says bacteria levels “were never elevated,” but the beach was closed “as a precaution” and has since reopened. The county brought in a mobile generator to get the pump station back online and stop Saturday night’s overflow; once the entire Murray project is complete, that shouldn’t be necessary either, since the pump station itself is getting a “permanent back-up electrical system” in addition to the huge tank to hold overflows. Right now, the overflow tank site is more than two-thirds of the way into the 60-foot-deep excavation that’s planned for the $26 million project, which is designed to bring the county into compliance with orders to limit overflows to no more than one per year; currently, this pump station averages five.
Just found out from “Diver Laura” James that Puget SoundKeeper and Ocean Conservancy are partners in another big local beach cleanup – this one, sponsored by Cox Enterprises, is tomorrow (Friday, September 26th) at Lincoln Park, 9 am-1 pm. They’re not soliciting more volunteers but Laura says if you want to help, they have room and won’t turn you away (tell the signup table you’re part of Diver Laura’s “team”). They’ll be on the beach north and south of Colman Pool, with registration at the nearest picnic shelter on the south stretch, starting at 8:45 am.
Lots of questions tonight about a film shoot on Alki Beach. Photo just in, courtesy of Don Brubeck (thank you!). We’re told it was a car commercial – that would explain the car on the sand! – reportedly for the Subaru Impreza.
On the sidewalk next to the volleyball courts on Alki, you’ll find Barbara Clabots and other Surfrider Foundation/Seattle Chapter volunteers getting out the word to get cigarette butts out of the sand, as previewed here the other night. The ones in the container next to Barbara were collected from beach cleanups last year at Alki and Golden Gardens. Surfrider is trying to combat the widely held (and erroneous) belief that the material in cigarette filters is biodegradable – it’s actually plastic. They’re also offering businesses the chance to sponsor canisters like this one for ongoing disposal:
Every time there’s a big cleanup at Alki Beach, we hear about volunteers collecting pounds and pounds and pounds of cigarette butts. Even one is too many, says the Surfrider Foundation, which is trying something new this Saturday – an awareness campaign:
For the last several years, the Seattle Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has held numerous beach cleanups at some of the city’s most popular parks.
Even though smoking is banned on Seattle Parks beaches, play areas, and playgrounds, the cigarette filters continue to pile up at every beach cleanup and according to the Ocean Conservancy are the most common item picked up on beach cleanups around the world. A report from San Diego State University found that the toxins leaching from just one cigarette butt could kill a fish placed in a one liter bucket.
“A common misconception is that cigarette filters are biodegradable because they look like a paper product, but they are actually plastic and recyclable”, says Susan North, Surfrider volunteer. “The San Diego and Vancouver Island Surfrider chapters are already leading very successful Hold On To Your Butt campaigns which are cleaning up our beaches, cities, and streets.”
Their goal is to reduce local cigarette litter by educating smokers that butts are plastic and toxic to marine life. Surfrider believes it is important to empower smokers through education and also to provide smokers with ways to dispose of cigarette butts that are not a fire hazard. The chapter is working with Seattle Parks and Recreation by placing two ash cans at Alki Beach Park.
On Saturday, August 23rd, from 10 AM-1 PM at Alki Beach and in conjunction with the Alki Beach Volleyball tournament, Surfrider volunteers will hand out flyers and hold a beach sweep to draw attention to the amount of butts on our beaches. The campaign committee invites the public to attend and learn more about the initiative and find out how to sponsor an ash can.
P.S. Also on Alki this Saturday morning, the annual Great Cross-Sound Race, so heads up, it’ll be busy at the beach!
(Photo received via text message – thank you!)
We’re receiving notes pointing out/asking about a sailboat that’s up on the sand on Alki Beach this morning, not far east of the Bathhouse. We don’t know anything but the circumstances but we do know that authorities are aware – there was scanner talk about it earlier this morning, including the acknowledgment that it’s probably going to be there for some hours, as the tide is very low this morning and high tide isn’t until about quarter past 7 tonight.
(UPDATED with pics from others who did some cleanup! Share your photo: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Got a little time before dusk? You can make a big impact by heading down to the beach with a bag. There’s been lots of talk today about the noise of last night – not quite as much about the debris in its aftermath. West Seattle advocate/activist “Diver Laura” James reports back on what she found when she went to the shore this afternoon to see the aftermath:
I went out for about an hour and got halfway down Alki Beach. The fireworks debris is not as prominent as it was last year after the private fireworks display, but there was definitely stuff to be cleaned up.
The public beaches are actually a bit cleaner than the private beaches and the park next to my house, mostly because the cops shut the beach down at 11 pm last night. I encourage everyone to take 15 min to half an hour and walk the local beaches in your neighborhood. If you don’t have a local beach, take a stroll by the local park. If you don’t have a local park, check your street. It may not be your fireworks debris, but I would put a healthy wager on all of us having shot off some assortment of noisemakers at some point for which others did the cleanup. Puget Sound and its inhabitants don’t care who fired them off, it’s who picks them up that really matters. While you are out there, feel free to pick up some other trash as well – plastic caps, styrofoam, plastic utensils, earplugs, wrappers, you name it… Every little bit helps and your individual actions count.
There is a garbage patch growing on the bottom of Puget Sound, and the only way we can stop it (other than everyone learning to dive and coming with me to clean it up) is to stop the trash before it reaches the waterways. So step up, bend down, and pick up that trash. Do it for Puget Sound, do it for our collective future. A lot of the cardboard and plastic debris is up in the high tide line, mixed in with the seaweed …
… but with a bit of patience you can pick it out.
If you can’t spare any time tonight – maybe tomorrow.
ADDED: NW went to Alki and shared this photo afterward:
ADDED SUNDAY MORNING: Here’s what Claire picked up:
Anybody else? email@example.com
That little harbor seal photographed by Adem at the Fauntleroy ferry dock last weekend wasn’t technically a pup, Robin Lindsey from Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network explains, but rather a yearling. However, the season of seal births IS now under way, and if you see a little seal on a local beach, it’s most likely a nursing pup and it’s critical that you keep your distance so its mom won’t be scared away when she comes back for it. It’s also important to call Seal Sitters – 206-905-7325 (SEAL) – so they can help.
Earlier this week, rescuers had to intervene after a nursing pup got stuck in the rocks by Duwamish Head; the story is on their Blubberblog website. That pup, nicknamed Junebug, was the third spotted on West Seattle shores already this season, which Robin says is the earliest on record.
On second look, Seattle Parks discovers, and plans temporary fix for, seawall damage from stolen car pushed into waterJuly 1, 2014 at 5:17 pm | In Crime, West Seattle beaches, West Seattle news | 3 Comments
Remember the car stolen from Queen Anne, found upside down in the water off Emma Schmitz Overlook?
(Photo republished with permission of Beach Drive Blog)
That’s the photo from Beach Drive Blog‘s original report early Sunday morning, June 22nd. We followed up with Seattle Police and Parks the next day and published this story. Right after the crarsh, Parks didn’t find noticeable seawall damage, but on second look, that assessment has changed. Update today from Parks spokesperson Joelle Hammerstad:
The crews who maintain the parks couldn’t tell if there was damage, but when our engineers went out there, they definitely found some. Please see attached pictures.
We are going to truss up the wall with structural steel as a temporary measure as we await a full replacement. We have been working with the Army Corps of Engineers for some time on a replacement project, and we expect that the replacement will happen sometime within the next two to three years.
BDB reported on the replacement plans back in April.
FIRST REPORT, 9:25 AM: Lura shares the photo from the 5400 block of Beach Drive SW. It appears to be the King County water-quality-monitoring buoy placed off Lincoln Park almost a year ago, described at the time as “firmly anchored in about 550 feet of water just less than half a mile off Point Williams.” She was making phone calls in hopes of finding someone to report it to, and just sent an update saying a neighbor has reached somebody. (The buoy, by the way, still seems to be sending readings.)
UPDATE, 4:51 PM: From King County’s Kimberle Stark:
Thanks definitely go out to the residents who reported the buoy was on the beach!!! Staff from the King County Environmental Laboratory are going to try and retrieve it tonight. We’re not sure what happened yet until we get a close look at the bottom frame. Thanks again to the residents who reported it in such a timely manner!
UPDATE, 6:40 PM: Looks like they were able to retrieve it – Lura sent this photo of the buoy under tow:
The tide’s coming back in again after the mega-low -3.3 at noontime. But it’ll be almost that low tomorrow, and if you went out on the beach today – or plan to do so tomorrow – “Diver Laura” James has a request for you: Everyone studying the sick starfish is hoping for a new round of surveys with this weekend’s low tide, so if you saw any starfish, alive or dead, there’s a variety of ways to share the information – optimally through the surveys linked here, but Laura adds: “If people don’t have time to fill out a form if they could just use #sickstarfish [social-media hashtag] or manual entry on www.sickstarfish.com or even just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, it would be a massive help.” She was planning to do a walking survey near Seacrest, to reach divers and others in the area.
12:01 PM: “Washington’s squid are generally less than a foot long,” says this state Department of Fish and Wildlife page. Well – not this one that Carrie Ann photographed during this morning’s low tide. She says, “Looks to have a bit of wear and tear from hitting rocks and scavengers pecking at it, but still impressive to see up close.” Humboldt squid? Reminiscent of this one five years ago.
2:46 PM UPDATE: In comments, Lynn says it’s believed to be a “robust clubhook squid.”
Wildlife advocates tried but were unable to save the life of a prematurely born seal pup that appeared on the Alki shore on Monday. Robin Lindsey from Seal Sitters Marine Stranding Network tells the story of “Luigi” in an update on Blubberblog, and adds in a note to WSB:
Yesterday was a terribly sad day for all of us that looked after Luigi, estimated to be only a day old when reported on Alki Monday. For the past two days, onlookers were so considerate and caring and understood the urgency about keeping the area free of disturbance in hopes that mom would return. There are a number of reasons that this pup might have been abandoned on our shore – not the least of which is that the mom may have died during the birth. We are hoping that anyone who might have noticed an adult seal on shore Monday at Alki or nearby – or one offshore that appeared to be in distress – will contact us so we might help unravel this mystery.
It is no mystery, however, that if people and dogs are too close and scare away a mother seal, she will often not return for her pup if she feels threatened. As always, dogs continue to be a problem on our public beaches and put wildlife at risk.
In the photo here, you can see the long lanugo coat that indicates she was born a month prematurely, a very difficult hurdle for survival. To our knowledge there has not been a live lanugo birth in West Seattle before – certainly not in the almost 8 years I have been doing this. Pupping season is just now getting underway in South Puget Sound rookeries and full-term pups generally start being born in late June. Usually, we see our first pup in West Seattle in early July, but the height of the season is September and October as weaned pups disperse from the rookeries.
Usually, a pup turns up on shore just to rest while its mom is out looking for food. If you see one – as Robin mentions, the season is about to begin – or if you have information on the circumstances of Luigi’s birth, call 206-905-SEAL. Robin also adds a vital reminder: “Only authorized members of NOAA’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network can handle marine mammals. It is against the law to touch, move or feed them.” (It really IS a network, including volunteers like SS – the most recent NOAA map with contacts is here.)
Part of the corps, John Smersh (who you might know from longtime WSB sponsor Click! Design That Fits in The Junction), shared the photos from Constellation Park south of Alki Point. The naturalists are there and on the Lincoln Park beach by Colman Pool until 1 pm today; here’s their schedule for the rest of the week, and on into summer. In just two weeks, you’ll see some even lower tides, bottoming out at -3.3 feet on June 14th, lowest it’ll get this summer.
With Memorial Day weekend opening the gate to summer, festival season is in view. This year, the Seafair Pirates Landing on Alki is earlier than usual – Saturday, June 28th. On a visit to the beach this morning, we noticed the newly placed promotional banners, making their annual appearance. There will of course be pirate sightings before then; according to their online schedule, they’ll be in the Portland Rose Parade this weekend (as will the Chief Sealth International High School Marching Band).
SIDE NOTE – ALSO IN JUNE: Two more big-event dates for your June calendar – the Westwood Village Street Fair on June 14th and the Morgan Junction Community Festival (co-sponsored by WSB) on June 21st.
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