West Seattle, Washington
Thanks to Don Brubeck for the photo taken along West Seattle’s west-facing shore during this afternoon’s low-low tide! As we mentioned in the daily highlight list, it was out to 2.5 feet just afternoon. Tomorrow and Friday, even lower – -2.9 feet at 1 pm Thursday and 1:47 pm Friday. If you can’t go out and tidewalk until the weekend, no worries – Saturday’s low tide will still be good for (carefully) exploring, -2.4 feet at 2:38 pm. Next month, the low-low tides get even lower: -3 feet and further, June 13-16. (Here’s our favorite tide chart. We have one – better for short-term consultation – on the WSB West Seattle Weather page, too.)
Thanks to Gary Jones for the photos, which were too sweet to put on hold until, say, tomorrow morning’s highlights. Notice in the top photo that Harbor Seal #1 is just hanging out at low tide off Constellation Park, with somebody peeking from the water to the left … and then deciding to get out and join the basking.
Flagging us to the same scene via Twitter, @1fox2fox noted, “As always, please be respectful to these sentinels of the Sound qnd give them space.” And if they come ashore, give Seal Sitters a call … 206-905-SEAL. P.S. Low-low tides are coming up later this month – lower than -2 feet for four afternoons starting Wednesday, May 16th.
The arrival this past Monday of new, lockable fire rings at Alki Beach Park – replacing all seven of the old ones – raised some questions, and now we’ve received answers from Seattle Parks spokesperson Christina Hirsch:
*Policies for when they’re unlocked and locked? “The exact hours/procedures for locking the lids is being determined with staff. Currently, the lids are unlocked. We will post hours and procedure information on our website in the next couple of weeks once the information has been finalized.”
*Why were the old ones replaced? The closable lid “helps to put out the fire,” Hirsch says, adding “we also ask that folks douse their fire with water.” They hope the lockability “will help prevent fires on off-hours and prevent bonfires during burn bans.” And the previous ones “were old, rusty and beginning to fall apart.”
*How much did the new ones cost? “The new pits were designed and created in-house and are like the pits we installed at Golden Gardens Park. Each pit costs approximately $1,500 (not including delivery and installation).”
Sara sent the photo, saying that “very large” shark washed up on the beach not too far south of the Fauntleroy ferry dock over the weekend. She reported it to the state Fish and Wildlife Department; after sending them the photo, she said, they thought it might be a soupfin shark. Any other guesses?
Thanks to everybody who e-mailed to let us know that new fire rings have arrived at Alki Beach. These photos were taken this morning by Vlad Oustimovitch – here’s a closer look at one of the new rings, notably lockable:
One last look at the old ones:
Alki is one of two city-owned beach parks where fires are allowed, as long as they’re in the rings and following the rules, which you can read here. The other park, Golden Gardens, already has these types of rings, which Parks staff unlocks at 4 pm; we’ll be checking with Parks tomorrow about the official procedures planned for these.
12:51 PM: Another event from our Saturday highlights list is well under way: The Pac-12 North Invitational beach-volleyball tournament at Alki, day 1. It’s umbrellas for spectators, sleeves for players:
We stopped by as UW players took to the sand again at noon, after they two hours earlier “upset 13th-ranked Cal in the first match of the weekend, 3-2.”
Stanford beat Oregon in the 11 am faceoff. Each match is scheduled for all five courts – at 1 pm, it’ll be Oregon vs. California, and at 2 pm, USC vs. Stanford. The Sunday schedule, again starting at 10 am, is here.
ADDED 10:01 PM: Here’s the gohuskies.com recap of the tournament’s first day.
The Seattle Animal Shelter has just reissued its seasonal warning – dogs aren’t allowed on public beaches.
It’s spring in Seattle, which means blossoming and hatching all around us. This is a particularly important time to ensure that immature wildlife have their best opportunity to flourish in the Northwest. To help protect the young wildlife, the Seattle Animal Shelter will be conducting emphasis patrols on all saltwater beaches in the city.
Dogs are not allowed on any of Seattle’s public saltwater beaches, even if they are leashed. This law helps us protect the fragile ecosystem along our shorelines. Marine mammals, such as seal pups that are typically born in April, use the city’s beaches to rest and warm themselves. Shore birds also frequent our beaches. Wildlife that interact with dogs are less likely to reach adulthood.
Uniformed animal service officers will be patrolling city parks with a focus on saltwater beaches and may issue citations to violators.
If you would like to report Seattle beaches where dogs are frequently seen, submit a service request at http://bit.ly/sas-service-request. You can also contact the Seattle Animal Shelter by calling 206-386-PETS (7387).
That’s the same alert SAS sent last spring – though so far this year, we haven’t seen the civilian-installed sign that went up about that same time.
2:52 PM: Apparently just a coincidence, but on the same day that U.S. Coast Guard buoy-tenders showed up in West Seattle waters, this King County-owned buoy has just shown up on shore. The photos are from a reader who spotted it on the beach at Lincoln Park, by Colman Pool (thanks for sending!).
We recognized it immediately from past stories including this one after it was launched in 2013 to monitor marine water quality, and this one from a beaching the following year. We just contacted Diane McElhany at the King County lab, and she confirms it’s theirs, adding, “We will be dealing with it today.”
5:51 PM: And deal with it they did:
Thanks to Mike Mahanay for that photo!
Have you seen a seal lately? Many have, and Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network is busy. Here’s an update from volunteer David Hutchinson:
While Seal Sitters’ “Blubberblog” site has not been updated recently, due to ongoing technical difficulties, our volunteers have been on duty responding to vulnerable young harbor seals hauled out on West Seattle beaches. Our normal busy season (September – November) was slower than usual but 2018 has started off with a flurry of calls to our Hotline (206-905-7325).
One seal, “Uno,” has accounted for the majority of responses this year. After first coming ashore on January 4th near Colman Pool, Uno has decided that the shoreline of Elliott Bay is her preferred location (you can tell it’s the same harbor seal by comparing the spots on the faces). She has become a familiar sight to passersby who frequently ask our volunteers how Uno is doing that day. Monday, volunteers were stretched thin when two additional young seals came ashore at separate locations in West Seattle.
Responses to these live seals is a positive experience compared to the one-week period in January when we had to deal with three near the north end of Lincoln Park that weren’t as fortunate. One was reported as deceased on the raft at that location, and another dead animal was recovered from Lowman Beach. The third arrived onshore with respiratory distress. After being examined by a NOAA consulting vet, that seal was transported to PAWS, where it later died. All three animals will be necropsied by WDFW.
We have received a number of inquiries about becoming a volunteer. These people will be receiving an email notice when a final date is set. As of now, Seal Sitters plans on holding its next training session in the late spring. Look for an announcement at sealsitters.org.
P.S. Bonus underwater seal video! This is from “Diver Laura” James – not Uno, she says, but another harbor seal, and a very curious one at that:
That’s some of her 360-degree-video equipment; she promises to share its video soon.
(WSB file photo)
Love going out on the beach at low tide to explore? Consider doing it this summer as a volunteer beach naturalist helping others learn about our shore and its wildlife. Here’s the announcement from the Seattle Aquarium:
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 twelve Puget Sound beaches. Orientation for new naturalists will be held on Tuesday, March 13 at 6:30 PM. If interested, please register here or contact the Seattle Aquarium by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 206-693-6214.
The beaches visited by the volunteers usually include two in West Seattle, at Constellation and Lincoln Parks.
See a seal on shore? Alert Seal Sitters! Here’s their newest update:
“Uno,” Seal Sitters’ first harbor seal response of 2018, has recently moved his favorite haulout spot from Lincoln Park to Elliott Bay. If anyone happens to see him or any other marine mammal on one of our West Seattle beaches, please contact the Seal Sitters’ Hotline at 206-905-SEAL (7325). We are having a bit of a flurry of weaned seals, anywhere from 4-6 months old, along West Seattle’s shoreline and it’s imperative they be given the space to rest and warm up. Sadly, the “weaner” Seal Sitters rescued from Lincoln Park on Thursday died overnight at the rehab facility and has been taken for necropsy.
It’s an unofficial holiday-season-ending ritual at Alki Beach – rounding up dozens of Christmas trees for a big bonfire. It happened last night, and David Christensen was rollerblading past when he stopped for the photo. Another part of the tradition – somebody usually calls 911, since this is beyond what the rules allow for the fire rings. So Seattle Fire and Police were dispatched; we don’t know what happened from there, but the online incident log shows SFD was there for all of six minutes.
The air was 38 degrees, the water was 46 degrees, and the politics were intermittent at this year’s Alki Beach Polar Bear Plunge.
This was just the west end of the swim. Stretched for blocks! pic.twitter.com/uBY89zwpzD
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) January 1, 2018
We mention politics because in case you missed the original announcement, which almost made it onto the WSB Most-Commented-On Stories of 2017 list, longtime organizer Mark Ufkes included a statement that he planned to wear pink into the water in support of, among other things, electing women.
In the ensuing triple-digit comment thread, Mark also made the point that the swim was of course open to all, as always, whatever your politics. But at this morning’s swim, no speeches – just the traditional countdown, followed by a quick en-masse, shrieking run into the water and, for most, a quick run out. Swimmers wore a variety of outfits, from pink, to red-white-and-blue, to sports-fan gear, and more – here’s a sample:
Side note – Organizer Mark also brought corkscrews, free to anybody who wanted one – he explained that he had bid on a batch of unclaimed corkscrews confiscated by the TSA – he thought he was getting 100 but instead received 1,000. (He also bid on Swiss Army-type knives that he obtained and gave to Boy Scouts – he’s a longtime Scoutmaster and parent of Eagle Scouts.) Here’s his pre-swim photo of the corkscrews:
Other sightings at the Polar Bear Swim – offshore spectators:
And just as we got ready to publish this report – two photos from Bob Spears (the second, showing someone who really did plunge rather than run):
(Added) From Bailey – The spirit of Christmas (and more) lingered into New Year’s for this trio:
(Added) Turns out that Alki open-water swimmer Andrew Malinak was in the boat shown a few photos up. We thought we heard sea-lion barking when we arrived at the beach, and one of his photos caught two of the five sea lions he reports counting:
Here are two of his photos from just before, and during, the plunge:
ADDED TUESDAY: From Erik Bell:
Any favorite photos/video to share? email@example.com – thanks!
For everyone who has been asking – yes, the annual West Seattle New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge at Alki Beach is on – with something extra, as just announced by longtime organizer Mark Ufkes:
Yes, the West Seattle Alki Polar Bear Plunge is on again. We line up along the beach in front of Duke’s on Alki, hold hands, and with a countdown, we all run into the water together. Over 500 of us did it last year. We plunge into the water at 10 am sharp January 1, 2018. Don’t be late. Bring water shoes, a towel, a warm change of clothes, and your hopes and dreams for the new year.
This year’s event is a great way to wash away the complexities of the first year of a Trump Administration. And the cold, crisp 47-degree Puget Sound water will wash us with an understanding of why Trump and the mostly white, Republican men who run Congress, after attacking President Obama on a daily basis for eight years about the deficit, would add $1.5 trillion to the deficit during an economic boom to give tax benefits to mostly the wealthy in society, while taking away our net neutrality and reducing lands preserved in our national monuments.
Wear Pink Into the Water: After 62 years of life, and as a white man, I have come to the conclusion that white men (mostly Republicans) are not capable of running our federal government in an honest, equitable manner. Therefore, I will be wearing pink into the water to acknowledge the reality that we need to elect women into every position in the U.S. Congress and fully hand over the reins of federal government power to women. We all know that they will do a better job.
See you January 1 at 10 am!
(December 2012 at Alki, when king tides combined with ‘storm surge’ conditions)
The extra-high high tides known as king tides are returning, starting next week, after the “supermoon” full moon that you’ll see (as clouds permit!) this weekend. Nothing catastrophic is forecast so far – high tides plus stormy weather can be problematic, but fairly calm weather is expected so far. Still, for those who like to track these things:
Tuesday, December 5 – 12.8 high tide at 6:32 am
Wednesday, December 6 – 12.9 high tide at 7:23 am
Thursday, December 7 – 12.9 high tide at 8:14 am
In January, the king tides will rise even higher – over 13 feet on January 3, 4, and 5. Again, without accompanying stormy weather (as was the case in December 2012), they’re generally little more than a rising/falling curiosity, but worthy of note just the same.
The photo and reminder are from David Hutchinson of Seal Sitters:
Seal Sitters’ “Shore the Shore” banners have recently been installed by Seattle Parks & Recreation along a section of Alki Avenue. Just a reminder that we are now entering what traditionally has been the busiest months for harbor seal pups to rest and warm up on West Seattle beaches. For those of you who have recently moved to this area, Seal Sitters is part of NOAA’s West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network. We respond to reports of any marine mammal, alive or dead, on the beaches of West Seattle from Brace Point through the Duwamish River, including Harbor Island.
If you come across a marine mammal on our local beaches, please keep back, keep people and pets away, and call Seal Sitters’ hotline at 206-905-7325.
You can also remember that number as 206-905-SEAL.
County health authorities just announced that the state Health Department has closed beaches to shellfish harvesting from “Alki Beach south to the Pierce County line, including Vashon Island and Quartermaster Harbor beaches.” Here’s the full text of the news release:
Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) has been detected at unsafe levels in shellfish on Vashon Island and at the Des Moines Marina. As a result, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has closed Alki Beach south to the Pierce County line, including Vashon Island and Quartermaster Harbor beaches, to recreational shellfish harvest.
The closure includes all species of shellfish including clams, geoduck, scallops, mussels, oysters, snails and other invertebrates; the closure does not include crab or shrimp. Crabmeat is not known to contain the PSP toxin, but the guts can contain unsafe levels. To be safe, clean crab thoroughly and discard the guts (“butter”). Working with partners, Public Health – Seattle & King County is posting advisory signs at beaches warning people to not collect shellfish.
Commercial beaches are sampled separately and commercial products should be safe to eat.
Anyone who eats PSP contaminated shellfish is at risk for illness. PSP poisoning can be life-threatening and is caused by eating shellfish containing this potent neurotoxin. A naturally occurring marine organism produces the toxin. The toxin is not destroyed by cooking or freezing.
A person cannot determine if PSP toxin is present by visual inspection of the water or shellfish. For this reason, the term “red tide” is misleading and inaccurate. PSP can only be detected by laboratory testing.
Symptoms of PSP usually begin 30-60 minutes after eating the contaminated shellfish, but may take several hours. Symptoms are generally mild, and begin with numbness or tingling of the face, arms, and legs. This is followed by headache, dizziness, nausea, and loss of muscle coordination. Sometimes a floating sensation occurs. In cases of severe poisoning, muscle paralysis and respiratory failure occur, and in these cases death may occur in 2 to 25 hours.
If symptoms are mild, call your health care provider or Washington Poison Center (800-222-1222), and Public Health (206-296-4774). If symptoms are severe, call 911 or have someone take you to the emergency room immediately.
Recreational shellfish harvesting can be closed due to rising levels of PSP at any time. Therefore, harvesters are advised to call the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 800-562-5632 or visit the Shellfish safety website before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Puget Sound.
After our friends at Beach Drive Blog published a report of a warning sign on the beach at Cormorant Cove Park, in the 3600-3700 block of Beach Drive, we started checking around with public agencies today. From Andy Ryan at Seattle Public Utilities:
Yesterday (8/22), SPU responded to a report of an active side sewer leak, at 3601 Beach Drive SW. We contacted the property manager, who was unaware of the leak, and who then called the plumber to arrange for repairs. SPU’s inspector posted beach-closed signs and reported the leak to: the state Department of Ecology; Public Health — Seattle & King County – King County; the state Department of Health and Seattle Parks. SPU will coordinate with the property management to ensure the repair is completed and, as advised by Public Health — Seattle & King County – King County, will begin to take water quality samples after the leak is stopped.
Weather Watch Park was a seal-pup-watch park for a while Friday afternoon, but the little harbor seal that Seal Sitters Marine Stranding Network was guarding did not make it. So reported Robin Lindsey from Seal Sitters in a note to volunteers today. She says the pup was on the beach twice that day – first “forced back into the Sound by an encroaching tide,” then back on the shore in the afternoon. It didn’t appear well, Robin noted, “tiny and terribly thin with some kind of issue with the left eye.” It was still on the beach when volunteers left after dark, keeping the cove taped off, and still there early Saturday morning, appearing to be having seizures. It was taken to PAWS in Lynnwood, where euthanasia was decided as the most humane course of action due to “a number of health issues.” It weighed only about 15 pounds. A necropsy is planned.
P.S. As Seal Sitters reminded us last month, it’s pupping season around the region. If you see a seal or any other marine mammal on a local beach, or in trouble offshore, their hotline is 206-905-SEAL.
(2014 US Army Corps of Engineers photo of failing seawall)
From City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s newest weekly update – a milestone for the Beach Drive seawall project that’s been years in the making. How many years? For one – the 475-foot stretch of seawall itself, at Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook, is 90 years old. For two – it’s been three years since the official public-comment period that accompanied an announcement from the Army Corps of Engineers of its agreement with Seattle Parks, and even that followed years of consideration, Beach Drive Blog pointed out earlier in 2014. Now, Herbold writes (sixth item here), a vote this past week puts the project on the road to construction starting next year:
The Council passed an agreement between the City’s Parks Department and the US Army Corps of Engineers to replace the seawall at Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook Park (along) Beach Drive. The seawall was originally built in 1927, and is nearing the end of its useful life; it has a 30% probability of failure during a storm event, and by 2025 will have a 60% probability of failure. It’s 500 feet long, and supports important infrastructure, including a sewer main, a PSE gas line, a storm sewer main, and a water main.
The estimated cost is $2.8 million; the agreement provides for 65% federal funding, and 35% from Parks (approximately $1 million). After detailed design and permitting are completed, construction is anticipated for Autumn of 2018, with completion by Spring 2019.
I asked whether the design accounts for climate change and sea level rise; the Project Management Plan notes that the new seawall “will be two feet higher than the existing structure “to account for increased storm wave heights and future sea-level rise.”
Earlier this month, the Office of Sustainability & Environment released a Preparing for Climate Change report, which noted this seawall as being at risk from sea level rise.
The report notes that sea level rise increases the potential for overtopping of seawalls, and notes that “newer seawalls and other structures have been designed to accommodate projected sea level rise.”
Seattle Public Utilities has a map showing areas in Seattle most likely to be affected by sea-level rise.
Thanks to Councilmember Juarez, Chair of the Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Waterfront Committee, for shepherding the legislation through committee.
If you look back at our 2014 story (linked in the first paragraph), you’ll note the cost has gone up – still split two-to-one between federal and local funding, but it’s now estimated at $2.8 million, up from $2.3 million.
1:34 PM: Thanks to Erin for the photo. Crews from West Seattle-headquartered Global Diving and Salvage have arrived off the 6000 block of Beach Drive SW, where a pilot made an emergency landing in shallow water a little over 24 hours ago (WSB coverage here). The landing was made after the Cessna’s engine quit (according to Boeing Field radio exchanges, as pointed out by WSB readers), and both men in the plane got out OK. The plane was almost fully revealed at low tide after 7 this morning:
Here’s a from-the-water look, courtesy of Kona Greg:
1:46 PM: Just in from our crew, more vessels clustered at the salvage scene:
2:16 PM: The plane’s being brought out of the water:
2:34 PM: Shortly after that last update, our crew reports, the plane was placed on the barge, and taken away. (Photo by James Bratsanos, added:)
We haven’t found contact information for its registered owners, a Las Vegas-based LLC.
2:44 PM: We’ll be adding video. (Update – here it is:)
Meantime, we checked with Global about what happens next. They’ll be taking the plane to a holding dock on the Duwamish River, and from there, they say, it’s up to the owners to arrange to reclaim it.
3:30 PM: Three more photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand:
Thanks again to all the Beach Drive and vicinity residents who have shared photos, info, (and a photography location!) since this happened Monday afternoon.
ADDED TUESDAY NIGHT: A postscript, resulting from a discussion in comments: Jeff Poschwatta of AvTech Services, LLC, which he describes as an aircraft-recovery business based in South King County, says his company put together the salvage operation. He was contacted by an insurance adjuster for Galvin Flying at Boeing Field, which a reader tells us was accountable for the plane (though records showed it registered in Las Vegas). He says he “in turn contracted Global Diving & Salvage, who obtained Manson Construction for a barge, tug and crane.” More than a dozen people from the three firms were out there: “We worked together to make this a successful recovery in quick time. I know the USCG, SPD, Dept/Ecology, Fish & Wildlife were happy with our efforts.”
The low-low tides are back, starting with -1.6 right now and receding to low tides below minus-3 feet both days this weekend (here’s a chart). On Saturday (July 22nd), the Seattle Aquarium beach-naturalist program is offering a “Deaf Community Beach Walk,” with sign-language interpretation available 10 am- 1pm, as well as beach naturalists, on the shore at Lincoln Park. Look for the signs.
The host Muckleshoot Tribe's canoe arriving. pic.twitter.com/Ozkkbu6C07
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) July 19, 2017
(Muckleshoot Tribe’s canoe arriving)
2:17 PM: As first reported here last weekend, Alki Beach is an overnight stop again this year for some of the Tribal Journeys canoe families. Dozens of tribes around the region participate each year, and destinations rotate among different nations – this year, the journey is bound for Campbell River, British Columbia. The Muckleshoot Tribe hosts the Alki stop, and told us the landings were expected at 3 pm; commenters on our morning highlights said they were seeing canoes earlier, and indeed, we’re here at Alki, and canoe families are coming ashore.
2:37 PM: The early arrivals are headed back into the water to await others and the official welcoming.
2:57 PM: And the visitors are being welcomed (video added above), so the canoes are back ashore. There are five routes that canoes are taking to Campbell River – this stop is along the Inside Passage route.
We’re told tomorrow morning’s departure is expected around 10 am; the visitors will be shuttling to Auburn for tonight’s feasting and celebration with the Muckleshoots. We’ve counted eight canoes here; fewer than last year’s stop, since they were headed southbound and most participants had already joined, while this year, they’re northbound, and this is an early stop, with many yet to join along the routes.
ADDED 11:52 PM: Thanks to David Hutchinson for this beautiful sunset view with canoes’ silhouettes:
This page on the Suquamish Tribe website details the plan for the stop there tomorrow and Friday.