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 email@example.com, 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.
Don’t touch marine mammals! Reminder from Seal Sitters after troubling report of Lincoln Park incidentApril 21, 2014 at 1:08 pm | In West Seattle beaches, West Seattle news, Wildlife | 23 Comments
From Seal Sitters‘ Robin Lindsey:
Seal Sitters’ hotline received a call last evening that two women (with illegally
off leash dogs on the beach) at Lincoln Park picked up a harbor seal pup and moved the animal. By the time we received the call the pup had left the beach. Apparently there were a number of people who told the women it was the law to stay back and not touch the pup – information which they disregarded. The pup was close to our beach signage at the north end of the Park which also has the number of our stranding hotline.
Seal Sitters would like to remind people that all marine mammals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act which prohibits touching, feeding, moving and disturbance. Violations such as the one reported last night can be prosecuted by NOAA Office for Law Enforcement punishable with a substantial fine and, if the infraction is severe enough, jail time.
I personally find it hard to believe that an approximately 7 month old pup would allow anyone to pick him up unless he was sick or injured. This is all the more reason the women should have called Seal Sitters’ hotline at 206-905-7325 (SEAL) in case the animal needed to be transported to rehab for stabilization and treatment.
We have had an unusually quiet off season with very few weaned pups coming ashore. They are more often using the offshore platforms to rest – which is obviously much safer from harassment by people and dogs.
Harbor seal pupping season is just now beginning on the outer coast of Southern Washington and Northern Oregon. Please be aware as you walk coastal beaches and if you see a pup alone on the beach, stay back and give the animal space so the mom will not abandon her newborn.
Seal Sitters thanks the residents of West Seattle for their support in helping to keep marine mammals safe in our area. If you see a seal pup on the beach, please call our hotline immediately.
You love skyline-from-Duwamish-Head photos. You love bird photos. Now – thanks to Craig Howard – two in one! Couldn’t wait until tomorrow’s daily preview to share it, so while we work on a few more news stories, here it is. Craig was on the beach at low tide, and “a murder of crows sent this eagle down right in front of me. He hung around until the crows went away. Didn’t seem to mind me at all.”
Do you enjoy Lincoln Park – its views, its wildlife? It can’t be taken for granted; it’s at risk due to human carelessness – but human caring can help make up for it, as you’ll see if you take a few minutes to watch the video. Thanks to Donna Sandstrom from The Whale Trail for sharing the video Barry White produced of last weekend’s TWT cleanup at the park – in the rain! – organized by Judy Lane. Donna has also written about it on the Whale Trail website.
In case you missed it – our Friday mention of those palm trees, just planted at Alki Beach Park (hat tip again to Connie), were the most-discussed WSB story of the weekend. We promised to follow up today with Seattle Parks, whose Joelle Hammerstad responded, first checking out the comments and then putting together this Q/A:
Q: Why are there palm trees at Alki?
A: The palm trees planted last week are part of a larger project to improve and beautify the landscape along Alki Beach. For the past several years, Parks landscape architects and plant horticulturists have been working to add interest to the landscape along Alki. Among the many projects undertaken include planting sea grass, arranging interesting and attractive and driftwood along the beach and adding an element of beach-y whimsy with the addition of palm trees in this location.
Q: How many trees are there?
A: There are 9 palm trees located in this landscaping area. The two most recent trees planted were by far the most mature. There are seven smaller palm trees grouped with the two larger ones. The addition of these last two trees completes the landscaping plan for this area of the beach.
Q: How much did the trees cost?
A: The trees were free. L & B Nursery in North Seattle donated the trees to Seattle Parks and Recreation. We received the donation last year, but only put them in the ground recently. After receiving the donation, we allowed their root system to mature a bit more before planting them. Mature palm trees are sold for around $125 a foot. We estimate that the donation for these trees is between $2,500 and $3,000.
Q: These trees are not native to the Pacific Northwest. Why did Seattle Parks and Recreation plant them?
A: These trees are native to China. They are a temperate species called Windmill Palm trees, and come from a region of China that gets colder than Seattle. Seattle Parks frequently plants non-native species in Seattle’s parks. When park visitors encounter a flowering tree in Seattle’s parks, they are usually seeing a non-native species. These include flowering cherry trees and dogwood trees, but also non-native ornamental trees, such as Japanese Maples. Nearly all the flowering annuals that bring bright colors to flower beds in the summer are non-native.
Q: The trees will impair the view.
A: Palm trees have an inherently small canopy. As they get more mature, they simply get taller. Their small canopy will grow higher and higher and impinge less and less on views. They will reach a height of about 35 feet.
The palms in our photo are near Alki’s 53rd Street Pump Station.
Two sightings on Alki:
SIGHTING #1: Driving Alki Avenue a little earlier today, we noticed those signs along both sides of the Alki Bathhouse block (61st SW vicinity), announcing a temporary No Parking zone for 11 am-10 pm tomorrow (Saturday, March 22nd). The mandatory hard-copy notice attached to one sign explains that it’s for a “production shoot.” No further details so far.
SIGHTING #2: At first we wondered if this were related to #1, but a Twitter conversation threw cold water on the idea: Palm trees arrived today, further east on the beach, tweeted Connie (@EyeOnAlki). At first, that led to memories of 2011, when palm trees were brought in so that Alki could double as Florida during the filming of “Ira Finkelstein’s Christmas” (which has since been retitled “Switchmas“). But after we tweeted that observation (but before we could get to the beach for the photo below), Jen (@hildeborg) tweeted that Parks crew members told her they’ve planted two between 53rd-54th SW to see how they do – with more possibly to follow.
We’ll be checking with Parks for more on the palm plan.
A little over two weeks after we reported installation under way on the east end of Seacrest Park, just west of Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor), the Luna Girls sculpture is installed and out from under its protective tarp. That’s artist Lezlie Jane with her privately funded 15-foot-long, nine-foot-wide creation, which she describes as “flame-cut from slab steel”; thanks to Mark Jaroslaw for sending the first photo. Jane’s website for the sculpture includes and explains their names – from left, Emily, Gunvor Katja, and Lorna.
P.S. There’s more, including video from the installation, on the Southwest Seattle Historical Society website.
Seal Sitters has been receiving calls about a deceased California sea lion on Alki Beach. We want to take this opportunity to update your readers.
This animal carcass washed ashore last month on a private beach along Beach Drive SW. Seal Sitters responded, documenting and marking it with non-toxic paint at that time. Since then, a succession of high tides has moved the carcass and it is now near the west end of the Alki promenade. Marine mammals can transmit disease, so please keep kids and pets at a distance. Seal Sitters has been in contact with Seattle Parks & Recreation and Animal Control concerning this animal and arrangements for removal are being made. We will continue to monitor this situation.
The California sea lions that forage and rest in Puget Sound are largely males and can reach 8 feet in length and weigh up to 850 pounds. Females rarely migrate to our waters. Healthy sea lions are extremely mobile on land and can be dangerous. Never approach or disturb live sea lions.
We’d like to remind all WSB readers that Seal Sitters is the NOAA designated marine mammal stranding network for West Seattle. As such, we respond to all calls regarding live or dead marine mammals on our beaches. There have been calls directly to NOAA and the Coast Guard concerning this animal and those calls are simply referred back to us by the respective agencies.
Seal Sitters MMSN thanks the West Seattle community for all the help protecting marine mammals. If there are any questions or to report marine mammals on the beach, please call our hotline at 206-905-7325.
Remember that sign on Lowman Beach? We now know the extent of the Murray Pump Station overflow that closed the beach back during the January 11th power outage: 1.5 million gallons. That’s according to Annie Kolb-Nelson from King County Wastewater Treatment, who didn’t have that stat when they were still dealing with the exact aftermath; we checked back this week to ask. It happened just as the county is launching into construction of two West Seattle projects meant to dramatically reduce the chance of such overflows – one of them right there at Lowman, which is now full of fencing and bordered with two construction trailers (this is their water-facing side):
Two components of the work ahead could have prevented or reduced the January 11th overflow – the pump station itself, beneath the south side of Lowman Beach Park, will get a backup power system, instead of having to await the arrival of a portable generator if an outage happens. And a million-gallon overflow-holding tank will be across the street.
The other project will reduce overflows at the nearby Barton Pump Station, north of the Fauntleroy ferry dock, which itself, like Murray, is getting a power upgrade. Its overflow-reduction system is very different – roadside raingardens to hold stormwater will be built in two of the neighborhoods in the “basin” feeding that station. And that project is about to have its two pre-construction community meetings – tomorrow and Saturday – time/location details are here.
The end result of both projects is supposed to be cleaner water. Not just for people, but for wildlife. We were reminded of that when we went to Lowman Beach today to photograph the construction trailers.
At Lowman, we also saw that seal pup, which had been on the rocky shore since relatively early in the morning, when Morgan spotted it and shared that photo via Twitter, hours before our visit. Seal Sitters were there by the time we saw it, and they thought it might be the same one we found ourselves guarding for a little while Tuesday evening at Lincoln Park – the story’s on the Seal Sitters’ website.
ADDED: Turns out it probably wasn’t “Cameo.” The Wednesday seal hung around all day and, as noted by Seal Sitters, got the nickname “PeeWee.”
More marine-mammal news today:
(Image courtesy David Hutchinson)
On the beach at Constellation Park south of Alki Point this weekend, a striking sight: Near a log carved with Native-inspired art of a sea lion … the carcass of a sea lion. Jana first pointed it out to us via the WSB Facebook page, recalling that we had mentioned the carving in Lincoln Park back in 2012, and marveling at how the sea lion came to rest nearby. Then we heard from David Hutchinson of Seal Sitters, who also had spotted it, and noted that this is an eight-foot-long male California sea lion first reported to the group on January 10th – at the time, it was at Andover Place Park several blocks south, and they tracked it to the Constellation Park vicinity, where, he says, “it beached the next day.” Researching the carving, he then found our second story, from one year ago, when the carved log was sighted near Cormorant Cove Park. So, he deduced, “Since that date it has moved about 500 feet further north to where my photo was taken.” He also shared this closer look at the carving:
Besides marveling, as had Jana, that the sea lion and carving had come to rest almost together, David asked that we share this reminder:
Folks coming across any dead marine mammal on West Seattle beaches should report it to Seal Sitters at 206-905-7325. We respond, document/photograph the animal, and fill out a Level A report for NOAA. The animal is marked so that if it floats to another location, it can be identified. Before the recent funding cuts, a necropsy might have been performed to determine cause of death. Seal Sitters is not responsible for the disposal of dead animals on private property. Ones on public beaches are either returned to the water to re-enter the food chain, or Seattle Parks & Recreation is contacted for disposal.
The funding cuts he mentions are detailed here. And in case you didn’t already know, Seal Sitters wants to hear about live marine-mammal sightings, too, not just seals – same number as above, which also has a handy mnemonic, 206-905-SEAL.
Thanks to Russ Walker for the photo from Alki this morning, a 13.3-foot high tide, tied with 8:04 am tomorrow for highest predicted Seattle tide of the year. While the lack of stormy weather meant it was a rather placid scene, it’s still important for those – like the state Ecology Department – who are tracking these tides, called “king tides,” to document “how very high tides affect the natural environment and our coastal infrastructure (to) help us visualize what sea-level rise might look like in the future.” If you took (or take) photos, share them with the Ecology Department’s Flickr group (as Russ and other West Seattle photographers did).
(WSB photo of king-tide/storm-surge flooding at Alki Bathhouse, December 17, 2012)
As our friends at Beach Drive Blog remind us, extra-high tides are on the way this weekend – another round of the so-called “king tides.” Without a storm in the forecast, we are NOT expecting the type of flooding that famously hit more than a year ago, as shown above, but we checked the tide charts for the entire year, and noted that the 13.3-foot high tides Saturday (7:22 am) and Sunday (8:04 am) mornings are the highest tides projected for all of 2014. Then after 13.1-foot high tides February 2nd and 3rd, we won’t see 13-foot high tides again until next Christmas Day.
(From county presentation at pre-construction meeting covered here last month)
Though the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Project – a million-gallon storage tank and its support facilities – is being built across Beach Drive from Lowman Beach Park, construction will affect the park, too, as reminded in this notice sent today:
Later this week, King County’s contractor for the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow project will begin on-site preparation for facility construction. In the next few days, the contractor will install security fencing around the Murray Pump Station in Lowman Beach Park, and two trailers will be installed in the park’s northeast corner. The trailers will serve as the contractor’s office for the duration of the project.
Access to Lowman Beach Park facilities and beachfront will be maintained. Park users are encouraged to access the park through the 15-foot wide pathway north of the contractor project office. This pathway will remain open throughout construction. Parking on the west side of Beach Drive Southwest will be maintained once the trailers are installed.
King County has a project hotline for questions/concerns: 206-205-9186.
This morning’s high tide, 12.9 feet at 7:48 am, was the peak of the “king tides” for this month, so we went to Alki (above) and Don Armeni (below) for a look. No extra factors pushing the water over the wall THIS time (unlike last December):
Next month, though, the January tides have a higher peak, 13.3 feet on the 4th and 5th. P.S. If you photograph the king tides, as explained here earlier this week, the state Ecology Department would like to see your photos.
An e-mail question about people out on a West Seattle beach right now with lights reminds us that the next three mornings of “king tides” are worth another reminder – here’s what we published Tuesday – as well as the late-night low tides. Coming up at 11:44 pm, the tide will bottom out at -3.2 feet, very low as low tides go; then at 7 am, it’ll be up to 12.8 feet, very high as high tides go. The highest “king tide” this time around will be 12.9 feet at 7:48 am Friday, but in January, it’ll peak even higher, 13.3 feet both mornings on the first weekend of 2014, January 4-5. (Find tide status/chart on the WSB Weather page any time.)
For the next five days, the morning high tides will approach 13 feet – the so-called “king tides” – and the state Ecology Department is again asking you to share your photos. Above is one of ours from WSB coverage last December 17th, when a king tide coincided with high winds. This Friday (December 6th), at 7:48 am, high tide will peak at 12.9 feet, same as it was on that memorable day a year ago. Here’s the request from Ecology:
*Take photos during a king tide, preferably where the high water levels can be gauged against familiar landmarks such as sea walls, jetties, bridge supports or buildings.
*Note the date, time and location of your photo, then upload your images on the Washington King Tide Photo Initiative Flickr Group.
*Please tag your photos on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #kingtides.
*Play it safe! While the winter king tides occur during daylight hours, don’t venture out during severe weather and keep a close eye on rising water levels.
We would also love to see your photos – here are all the ways to reach us. Thanks in advance!
P.S. Any time you’re looking for a tide chart – check the one that’s displayed on the WSB West Seattle Weather page.
Just before sunset, one final solemn ceremony on this Veterans Day: Scout Troop 375, based in Burien, came to Alki for a formal flag-retirement ceremony. More than two dozen people joined them.
With flames and Taps, as per tradition, the flag was taken out of service.
The troop and Scoutmaster Mark Ufkes had invited community members to bring flags for a future retirement event; some did. (No date set yet.)
That video was just shared by West Seattle environmental advocate/photographer “Diver Laura” James, who reports counting more than 100 dead sea stars in the Brace Point area near Fauntleroy this weekend. We also received a called-in report late yesterday of dead sea stars (starfish) seen near Colman Pool on the Lincoln Park shoreline, but had not been able to get there at low tide to verify. There have been numerous reports of starfish die-offs in recent weeks, from this KING 5 story to a national report via NBC News. But there’s no way to know, so far, if this is connected, nor have scientists definitively linked other die-offs to any sort of common condition.
P.S. Laura will be at The Whale Trail‘s orca talk at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) this Tuesday night, on behalf of Tox-Ick.org; if you haven’t already bought a ticket, though, please note that TWT’s Donna Sandstrom has announced the event is sold out, so no tickets at the door.
1:16 PM: Starting with a note from Jennifer in the 5 am hour, we’ve received several tips and questions about that beached boat at Alki (near 57th SW), and finally have some information to share. Here’s what Joelle Hammerstad at Seattle Parks found out for us: “Apparently, the owner was coming around the point, got into some mechanical trouble, and came ashore right there. There has been an insurance adjuster out looking at it. They are waiting for high tide to get it out of there.” (High tide hits about 11 feet at 7:16 tonight and 9:08 tomorrow morning.)
8:38 PM: Still there at sunset:
Thanks to Guy Olson for the photo!
(Weekend photo of ‘Polo’ by David Hutchinson)
Just one week after Seal Sitters‘ jubilant “Harbor Seal Day” event at Alki Beach, another situation underscoring the importance of their work: They’ve had to get help for another pup – the third one this year. This update is just in from Robin Lindsey:
We thought your readers would want to know that seal pup Polo (who hauled out numerous times near 53rd and Alki from Thursday through Saturday) was rescued from the beach early Sunday morning.
The pup was in serious distress and taken to PAWS. Polo did survive the night and we will be providing health updates on blubberblog as we receive them.
We want to thank the many people who oohed and ahhed over this beautiful little pup while he stretched and yawned and snoozed. While Polo was very much underweight, he didn’t display any obvious health issues and was coming and going from the beach with vigor. It was a surprise to us all. This just underscores the fact that all of the newly weaned pups are in a daily struggle to survive and their health can take a drastic turn for the worse in no time at all – and so many of them have underlying health concerns. Even more reason to make sure that they are able to rest undisturbed on our shores to gain strength!
And if you spot one (or any other beached marine mammal) – call 206-905-SEAL, so Seal Sitters can come out and keep watch.
(Photo by Robin Lindsey)
Two updates from Seal Sitters today. Robin Lindsey says that in addition to two newborn pups in recent weeks, two newly weaned pups have shown up on West Seattle beaches in the past few days. Above is the pup nicknamed “Perky” (also shown in a reader-contributed photo on the WSB Facebook page); Robin says, “Another pup spent yesterday afternoon and night at Emma Schmitz viewpoint. The thin pup just returned to the Sound about an hour ago. We’d like everyone to be on the alert and make sure you call our hotline @ 206-905-7325 (SEAL) if you come across a pup on the beach. … As always, we need to ask people to respect the tape perimeters. It is crucial that pups are able to rest undisturbed in order to survive this challenging time!” Read more on Seal Sitters’ “Blubberblog” website.
KIDS’ CONTEST – ONE MORE CALL FOR ENTRIES! Young artists/writers in kindergarten through 5th grade have until this Sunday (August 25th) to enter the Seal Sitters’ contest for creations to be displayed during the Harbor Seal Day event at Alki Bathhouse on September 8th – great project for these waning days of summer! Read all about it, including how to enter, by going here.
Several groups have taken West Seattle beaches under their wing lately and organized cleanups – but none quite like this one. In late July, an Eastside company called Tirebuyer.com announced volunteers from its staff planned to come clean up West Seattle beach spots marred by washed-up tires, apparently on the suggestion of a company employee who lives here. It sounded almost too publicity-perfect to be true – but they’re now sharing pictorial proof, including the photo above (note the edge of the overlook at Luna/Anchor Park) that we’re republishing with permission. Their tire-removal tale is here, and they’re planning to try it again soon; if you know of a beached tire that needs removal for recycling, e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations to the dozens of volunteers who joined the Surfrider Foundation at today’s Alki Beach cleanup. “Diver Laura” James, who joined in an underwater cleanup while other volunteers were on the sand and atop stand-up paddleboards, shares the top photo. Surfrider shared the next photo, by Heather Brincko, showing singer Vicci Martinez doing her part – before entertaining cleanup participants with a post-cleanup concert at Cactus:
The cleanup, also sponsored by Barefoot Wine, removed 50 bags of trash “and a watercooler full of cigarettes” from the beach, according to a report sent by organizers.
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