(First 2 photos by Hannah Letinich)
Been to Alki today? Notice something missing? Thanks to volunteers including the ones above, here’s what you’re NOT seeing on and in the Alki Beach sand:
Today’s big work party for International Coastal Cleanup Day, led by partners including Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, is a wrap – but help ‘em out and be sure to toss your non-recyclables and pack out your recyclables next time you’re there!
ADDED SUNDAY NIGHT: Thanks to Tom Foley for additional information and photos. He says about 80 people joined in:
And the cigarette butts alone totaled more than 30 pounds, Tom adds. Two unusual items recovered: a rusty hatchet and pocket knife:
Tom volunteers with Puget Soundkeeper Alliance.
If you haven’t heard yet about the big Alki Beach cleanup that is part of International Coastal Cleanup Day this Saturday … go sign up! Sponsors including Puget Soundkeeper Alliance would like to know how many people to plan for. You can sign up outside Duke’s on Alki starting at 10 am Saturday – the cleanup runs till noon, followed by an afterparty till 2 – but they say early online signups are even better. Read all about it here.
Northwest Hope and Healing‘s annual benefit walk/run, the Alki Beach 5K, is happening this morning – so Alki Avenue SW will be closed from 63rd SW east/southeastward, approximately 8 am-11 am. You can still join in the 5K, too, even if you’re not signed up yet; on-site registration starts at 8 am, by the Alki Bathhouse.
Some have asked if the Paddle to Squaxin tribal canoes are still on Alki, where they landed Monday afternoon as a stop along the journey to the big annual gathering, to be held in the Olympia area this year. We went back over to Alki to be sure we had the correct answer: Yes. Departures aren’t planned until tomorrow morning, when they will head to the next stop, hosted by the Puyallup Tribe; the Muckleshoots are the hosts here – all the stops are on this map. (Our coverage from Monday is here and here.)
ADDED: Stately sunset view with a canoe’s bow in silhouette, from David Hutchinson:
Despite everything else happening on Saturday, more than 50 took time out to help clean up West Seattle’s busiest beach. From Seal Sitters‘ Robin Lindsey:
Seal Sitters teamed up with Alki Community Council and Seattle Parks to sponsor a cleanup of Alki Beach (and Constellation Park) in honor of seal pup Sandy who was found dead, entangled in derelict fishing line earlier this year. Fifty-one passionate people showed up, anxious to do their part to help protect sea life from the dangers of marine debris and trash. Peggy Foreman of NOAA talked briefly about marine debris and specifically about the stranded Arroyos gray whale whose stomach contents consisted solely of human trash.
While the beach did not appear to be as littered as usual on a summer Saturday morning due to a rather rainy Friday, the volunteers (20 Seal Sitters and 31 folks from the community, 6 of those minors) filled about 10 large trash bags. Armed with buckets, bags and grabbers, they picked up plastic bottles and caps, countless cigarette butts, and among other things a kayak paddle, a woman’s black and pink bra and dirty diapers. We even had a family drive all the way from Ellensburg just to pick up trash on the beach. Brooklyn, the “almost” 9 year old daughter, read about seals on our website, saw the post about Sandy and told her mom and dad that she wanted to come help seal pups by cleaning up the beach. We can’t thank everyone enough for helping out today. A minimum of 120 hours were donated this morning (we have not yet tallied the worksheets for an actual figure). All of these volunteers are a true inspiration!
Robin says the photo she shared shows “students from UW’s Environmental Studies program (Kim, Alex, Nick and Ana) who each donated over 3 hours of their time” on Saturday.
In this morning’s “West Seattle Saturday” preview, we mentioned the scheduled Alki launch of “sky lanterns” as a fundraiser for youth arts education. Seems the wind on Alki was not conducive to a mass lantern launch, and organizers announced via Twitter they were moving to the south end of Lincoln Park and planning to send up the lanterns around 10. So we’re mentioning it in case anyone in that area is taken by surprise.
We’ve shared photos taken by others, but never before have we had the chance to personally photograph one of Alki’s famous road-crossing river otters. S/he just turned up while we were standing on the Duwamish Head seawall to get a photo of this great blue heron …
Then a gentleman unloading a Wiseman’s Appliance truck shouted something like “THERE’s your photo op!” – we turned, and the otter was suddenly on the sidewalk, galumphing over to slide down the seawall:
… and onto the beach. It was just about noon, so, we assume, lunch break time. PLEASE be careful when you drive Alki Avenue … the otters seem to be frequent commuters.
WSB’s newest professional photojournalist contributor, Nick Adams, netted that image of people fishing during Monday’s sunset at Lincoln Park. Today’s forecast is a little murky – then again, so was Monday’s, and the sun triumphed anyway.
More driftwood carving at Lincoln Park, two and a half weeks after a whale and moon snail appeared. Bob Bussman shared photos of the work he spotted during a walk along Lincoln Park’s north beach yesterday afternoon – he described what they’re working on as a seal:
We don’t know if that person and another one Bob saw are the same ones who created the whale and moon snail (do you?), but the carving is being done in the same area.
The low-low (below -3 feet) tides are gone till an encore early next month, but we have a few more community-contributed photos to remember them by. Above, Tracey Spenser‘s view of an anemone amid glistening greenery; next, Lura Ercolano shows us a moon snail has quite the infrastructure beneath the graceful shell:
Also out on the beach, “Diver Laura” James – but look very carefully behind her, around the center of the photo:
The great blue heron was apparently too intent on fishing to mind the people nearby:
Thursday’s low tide will still make for decent beachwalking – -2.6 at xx – but if you are hoping to get out while the beach is at its widest, mark your calendar for late mornings Monday 7/2 through Wednesday 7/4 (here’s the July chart). Thanks yet again to everyone who shared their photos during this “wave” of low-low tides!
Today’s low-low tide brought some great noontime sights – we’ve received some excellent photos and took a few ourselves (plus we have a few awesome WSB’er-contributed holdovers from yesterday). We’ll be adding to these a little later in the evening but are starting with three from Gary Jones – wildlife catching, or seeking, lunch!
Today’s tide was the lowest, but tomorrow will still be fairly low, at -3.4 just before 1 pm.
More photos to come – and thanks again to everyone who has shared. ADDED 7:42 PM: The next two photos are by WSB’s Patrick Sand – we were out on the beach by Luna/Anchor Park:
The pilings beneath the park overlook – where the former Luna Park amusement park’s swimming pool used to be:
Laurie shared a photo of the Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists mustering by Constellation Park:
(They’ll be out at Constellation and Lincoln Parks again tomorrow, 11 am-2:30 pm.) And from Jim Clark, taken on Monday – a mystery creature (do YOU know what it is?):
Luckie shares that photo from the beach at Constellation Park south of Alki Point, the most popular tidewalking spot during this morning’s low-low tide – we drove by around noon and noted school buses from Mercer Island, Issaquah, and Seattle districts. (Further south, we noted a Highline bus across from Me-Kwa-Mooks.) On West Seattle’s north-facing shore, we stopped for a look at the stubs of pilings where the Luna Park amusement park stood a century ago:
Here’s a Luna Park photo from the Seattle Municipal Archives:
Tomorrow’s low-low tide is the lowest of the month, -3.8 just after noon.
Seen along local shores:
Scott Bessho shared photos of carvings on a driftwood log along Lincoln Park’s north beach. He said he spotted people working on it with professional-looking carving tools on Friday; when he went by again late Saturday, they were gone, but the carvings were clearly visible, what appears to be a whale, and a whorl – here’s a closer-up look at the latter:
We haven’t seen them in person ourselves, but since it would be quite the operation to move a log like that, we’re guessing they’re still there.
If you were out on any local beach at midday today, during the first of four mega-low tides continuing through Wednesday, wildlife was the big attraction:
From Lowman Beach, John Legge shared that photo of what he identifies as opalescent nudibranches – and a spotted one, too:
Then from Alki, Katy tweeted this photo, wondering what it was, since she had seen so many today:
We’re 99 percent sure it was made by a moon snail – let us know if we’re wrong! Meantime, tomorrow’s low tide is even lower, -3.7 at 11:19 am.
LOW-LOW TIDES: Thanks to Lura for the tip: Another round of extra-low low tides has arrived. Each of the next four days will bring a low tide of more than -3 feet, which means many tidepools and other things to explore (carefully!). Here’s our favorite tide calendar with the specific times – or, you can use the WSB Events Calendar, where each of those days has an entry not only featuring the low-tide times, but also the hours that you’ll find Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists at 2 sites in West Seattle. Happy exploring!
IN THE SKY: Also in the next few days, you have the chance to see two phenomena, both, of course weather permitting. Early Monday, there’s a partial eclipse of the moon – and we do mean EARLY, as in 4 am our time. NASA explains it here. Then on Tuesday, it’s the Transit of Venus – with NASA Solar System Ambassador Alice Enevoldsen as your guide at West Seattle’s Solstice Park. This is NOT something you can just go outside and check out. See Alice’s website for lots of information, including an event on Tuesday.
When we caught up with Mountain to Sound Outfitters and Alki Kayak Tours proprietor Greg Whittaker at his new on-the-beach rental stand around 4 pm, he said it had been a busy day – so busy, all the stand-up paddleboards were out between his two waterfront locations, except the one with which he posed! Perfect day for a debut, given that both the weather and the crowd gave Alki a bit of a Venice Beach veneer. The M2S setup also includes other beachgoing supplies – sunscreen, water bottles, hats:
Other sports equipment will be phased in at the rental stand, on the sand at 55th SW.
(Photos courtesy Puget Soundkeeper Alliance)
Thanks to work this week by Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, in cooperation with the state Natural Resources department and Seattle Parks, there’s less toxic creosote on Lincoln Park’s beach right now – and that means less in the marine ecosystem. Earlier this week, crews were out at Lincoln Park with an excavator and chainsaws – operated by the state Ecology Department’s Washington Conservation Corps – to remove what was estimated to total about eight tons of washed-up logs contaminated with creosote, long used as a preservative.
Thanks to Puget Soundkeeper’s pollution-prevention coordinator Barbara Owens for the photos; she says the downtown waterfront saw a similar project two years ago, in the Myrtle Edwards/Olympic Sculpture Parks‘ vicinity.
More wildlife sights on West Seattle beaches today, as the lowest tide once again was minus three feet, and then some. Thanks to WSB’ers who shared photos – above, Machel Spence‘s photograph of what she explained was “a rare and sweet find at low tide …
an opalescent a frosted nudibranch, I don’t see these very often except for the very low tides.” The next photo is courtesy of Jen, who said she and her daughter spotted it (among other creatures) while out this afternoonn. She added, “It was so much fun and beautiful out there.”
(Do you know what that is? We don’t!) Tomorrow’s low tide won’t be as low as the past two days, but still excellent for tide-walking depending on the weather – forecast right now as “partly sunny” – it’ll be minus 2.8 feet at 2 pm.
Under the pilings alongside Cove Park, the pocket beach north of the Fauntleroy ferry dock, we were “seeing stars” at the tide’s lowest point about an hour and a half ago. We went to Cove Park because soon it will be off-limits for two years of pump-station work. Our favorite sight: The tracks made by a small sun star:
If you watched the star itself, you could barely tell it was moving, but the tracks in the wet sand showed its progress added up (a handy thought for those projects that seem to take forever). Tomorrow afternoon’s low tide will be almost as low as today.
Thanks to Greg for sharing photos from south of Alki during this morning’s low tide (even lower the next two afternoons). Above, his daughter Lillie carefully checks out a purple sea star. Next, a great blue heron snags a snack:
And of course, Lillie, Greg, and the heron did not exactly have the beach to themselves:
While the very low (and very high!) tides continue for the next few days, the WSB West Seattle Events Calendar will have information about both the tides and opportunities to talk with beach naturalists. We also have tide information on the WSB Weather page year-round.
Quick note for the Lowman Beach area – the county Wastewater Treatment Division will be doing “some planned maintenance work” at the Murray Pump Station this Tuesday. County spokesperson Annie Kolb-Nelson says it’s NOT related to the combined-sewer overflow control project across the street from the pump station and park, but since you might wonder about that if you see the work crews on Tuesday, she’s sharing the heads-up. Crews will be there 8 am-2 pm; the county’s flyer has more details on exactly what they’ll do and what they’ll use.
A few bonus reasons to go outside the next several days/nights … very low and very high tides, plus the “supermoon”! The latter arrives at moonrise Saturday evening – Space.com has details. And along with this month’s full moon come some very high and very low tides. Today’s low tide at midmorning – when we took the cameraphone photo above, during a brief Alki visit – was a modestly low minus tide, but as our favorite monthly tide table shows, the lows get lower over the next few days, bottoming out at -3.4 just after noon on Monday (one of the lowest daytime low tides of the year). At the same time, the high tides are higher than usual, topping out at 12 feet (or slightly past that) Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings.
SIDE NOTE: Any time you are interested in sunrise/set, moonrise/set, and tide information, that’s part of what we provide (automated so you can trust it’s always updated) on the WSB Weather page – follow that link OR click the “Weather” tab below the header on any WSB page.
You never know what you are going to find on the beach at low tide. This closeup look at an octopus arm found south of Alki Point a few days ago is courtesy of West Seattle photographer Machel Spence. She even found the upper mandible of its beak – the only hard part of an octopus’s body:
Probably not the same octopus – but two weeks ago, Jana and her kids found an intact octopus on a local beach; we’d been saving those photos – click ahead if you’re interested in seeing one: Click to read the rest of West Seattle wildlife: Giant Pacific Octopus, close up…
It seems to be an annual Alki occurrence – looking back a few years into our archives – the morning after the first major sunshine, the beach park has trash trouble. John sent the photo, taken this morning east of Alki Bathhouse, noted, “Obviously the trash wasn’t emptied during the day yesterday … the whole boardwalk area is disgusting!” We checked with Seattle Parks to find out about this year’s maintenance plan, given yet another round of city budget-belt-tightening. Spokesperson Dewey Potter says yes, John is right – trash wasn’t emptied on Sunday, because crews won’t be on the summer schedule for another month: “Our crew, because of budget reductions, is on a Monday through Friday schedule until the summer seasonals start work at the end of May. The crew should be finished cleaning up Alki Beach by now. Not all the cans were full, which means people were just discarding trash. Sad, on Earth Day weekend.”
TUESDAY MORNING: We received some new info from Parks – here – including, they’re adding cans.
(Marination’s Roz Edison and Kamala Saxton, with Alki CC president Tony Fragada at right)
Marination proprietors Roz Edison and Kamala Saxton stole the show at last night’s Alki Community Council meeting, with an update on the sudden red-tape snag that pushed back their Seacrest Boathouse project – but that wasn’t the only meaty briefing on the agenda: Click to read the rest of Alki Community Council: Marination/Seacrest update; more…
Another orca-sighting alert (via Elissa, on the WSB Facebook wall) sent us down to Beach Drive to take a look – but this was the only black-and-white-marked wildlife group we spotted – the beautiful brant who come here to eat eelgrass. (Here’s what Alki resident Guy Smith wrote about them for WSB in fall 2009. Note – brant are easily spooked, so if you see them, shhh!) The whale tips came from multiple sources; though we never saw them, that’s par for our course, but others including Jeff Hogan from Killer Whale Tales, plus two city Park Rangers, had better luck. And Orca Network‘s Facebook page says two pods may be in the Sound today. Meantime, the lowest tide of the month (-2.3 feet) is bottoming out right about now; if you have the chance to tidewalk tomorrow, it’ll be almost this low (-2.1 feet) at 2:23 pm – here’s the chart.
(Photos by WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand)
A sad procession on Alki less than an hour ago – but one that might ultimately yield some knowledge for the future: A dead harbor porpoise was taken away by biologist Dyanna Lambourn from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Mammal Investigations unit and biologist/stranding coordinator Jessie Huggins from Cascadia Research Collective. Also on hand at the beach this morning, Seal Sitters first responder Robin Lindsey, who got word of the porpoise’s death at mid-afternoon Saturday (the organization is part of a stranding network for all marine mammals, not just seals), and Seal Sitters volunteers David and Eilene Hutchinson. So far we know the porpoise was an adult female, but the cause of her death was not obvious and will require further investigation.
As the biologists (in the photo with camera-wielding Robin) explained to curious passersby, harbor porpoises are not rare and not endangered (read more about them here), but the biologists say they seldom wash up like this – most often, they die at sea and “just disappear.” On the Seal Sitters’ “blubberblog” site, Robin tells the story of the elaborate operation carried out last night to secure the porpoise until it could be picked up this morning; as she writes, it died further east along the Alki shore, and was moved to the spot where we photographed her and the biologists this morning (near the 53rd Avenue Pump Station section of beach). The porpoise is now being taken to a facility in the South Sound.
3:47 PM UPDATE: Robin has updated her report, but the necropsy results aren’t in yet – look for another update (there and here) when they are.
11:03 PM UPDATE: Robin at Seal Sitters has updated her report again with those results. Biologists say the porpoise had a serious lung infection. Full details added at the bottom of her story.
One more cleanup to note before the weekend’s out – this one, underwater. After weeks of bringing up old batteries (as featured on TV this past week), West Seattle diver/photographer Laura James and friends have moved on to plastic sheets/tarps that Laura says are littering the sea floor.
She’s not sure if plastics recyclers will be able to take the sheets, but she plans to check.
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