West Seattle Whale Watch: Gray whale spotted close to shore

(Scroll down for added photos, video)

ORIGINAL 9:58 AM REPORT: Getting multiple reports of a gray whale off south West Seattle shores, Brace Point earlier, Lincoln Park near Williams Point (Colman Pool area) within the past half-hour. The photo above is from Rick Rasmussen, who glimpsed it south of Brace Point earlier this morning:

At 730 this morning, I saw what looked like an unusual disturbance in the water, just south of Brace Point, very close to shore. It was in about 15-20 feet of water, but close to the drop off to much deeper water.

It appeared to be a large whale, black or dark gray, with no dorsal fin. It looked larger and also longer than the Orcas we’ve seen around here.

At first, it was moving quickly and sporadically, just breaking the surface of the water and not showing much of itself. Then it started moving slowly in a circle for a few minutes, disturbing the water, mostly submerged. It then partially surfaced and spouted twice, a few minutes apart, then swam off toward the deeper water, showing a lot of it body before disappearing.

12:18 PM UPDATE: While out for the past couple hours, we saw the whale multiple times from Lincoln Park’s north beach and then from Lowman. It’s apparently off Emma Schmitz now – we went there too soon – according to a tweet we received. Lots of whale-watchers out; we’re checking video we shot, and also starting to receive some photos. Here are two from Trileigh – the first is the whale’s backbone, she says:

ADDED 12:46 PM: And this is our short video clip. Not close-enough in to see much, maybe most worthwhile for the oohs and aahs in the background audio!

More photos later as we get them. Gray sightings are not as common as orca sightings in Puget Sound – but they aren’t uncommon either – the whales do detour here sometimes while heading up from breeding grounds in Mexico to summer feeding grounds in Alaska, and there are apparently some that just never bother finishing the trip!

2:37 PM UPDATE: Via Twitter and comments, we’re hearing the whale is still in West Seattle waters – off central Beach Drive (Weather Watch Park) per “dq,” still moving northbound since @kerrywa on Twitter said it was off Me-Kwa-Mooks just before 2. Thanks for the reports!

26 Replies to "West Seattle Whale Watch: Gray whale spotted close to shore"

  • Whatchinwhale March 27, 2010 (10:56 am)

    Still out around Coleman pool. 50′ off shore. 11:00AM.

  • WSB March 27, 2010 (11:26 am)

    Easier to update this way from the field. Whale north of Lowman as of a few minutes ago. Definitely northbound.

  • steve March 27, 2010 (11:34 am)

    I was running through Lincol Park around 9:15. At that time he was about 15-20 ft off the beach and moving south, surfacing every 3 min or so, exhaling and getting everyone watching (people and leashed dogs) excited! He was quite the big boy, and, after a bit by the pool, started turning north. And THIS is just another reason to live in West Seattle!

  • Eilene Hutchinson March 27, 2010 (2:12 pm)

    Great photos and video! Thank you for sharing these.

  • dq March 27, 2010 (2:16 pm)

    he/she is still hanging out! we’re just south of La Rustica…

  • WSB March 27, 2010 (2:36 pm)

    Just heard that it’s still off Beach Drive! Hope lots of people are getting to see it, then. Not like the orcas, who were way far offshore last few times they passed … this guy/gal was very close in, at Lincoln I could even hear it, THAT close. Haven’t seen grays in person since whale-watching off San Diego about 20 years ago – TR

  • kc March 27, 2010 (3:24 pm)

    love the video when what sounds like a child says “it looks like a loch ness”.

  • erin March 27, 2010 (3:47 pm)

    Thanks for sharing! Took the kids down to Lincoln Park (Colman pool) in the late morning after the first sighting was reported, but didn’t have any luck. One of these days we will get lucky.

  • Jim S. March 27, 2010 (4:03 pm)

    Whale has been off Alki Point for the last 1/2 hour Whooo whooo!

  • peterson toscano March 27, 2010 (4:53 pm)

    Just saw it from Alki Beach moving East. It spouted five times in 25 min showing some body, moving slowly & steadily in straight line towards Seattle.

  • PeterT March 27, 2010 (5:56 pm)

    At around 5:10 it seemed to have found a spot of interest about 1/2 mile SW of Alki Point, and is leisurely cruising that area. Was still there around 5:25. Spouting every 2-3 minutes or so. Plenty of onlookers on the walkways are having a good time watching it.

    • WSB March 27, 2010 (6:15 pm)

      It’s now east of Anchor Park and heading toward downtown.

  • MISA MOORE March 27, 2010 (6:04 pm)


  • AlkiKayakTours March 27, 2010 (6:32 pm)

    The guest on our Sunset Kayak Tour is getting treated to an on-water look at the Grey Whale just off Duwamish Point. Wow!

    • WSB March 27, 2010 (7:10 pm)

      Whale spent a while VERY close in by Salty’s, then vanished again. I’m headed to HQ with video etc.

  • JJ March 27, 2010 (7:52 pm)

    Just back from seeing the whale at Jack Block park (7:45pm). He’s still there as far as I know.

  • stymied March 27, 2010 (10:01 pm)

    Dear lord! How big are those!!!

  • MISA MOORE March 27, 2010 (10:13 pm)


  • Cara March 27, 2010 (11:02 pm)

    We’re driving along Alki on a whim after eating at Luna Park Cafe. Saw a crowd and decided to park. The whale was right there, heading toward Salty’s. We stayed till about 7:45 and at that point he had been lingering between Jack Block Park and Harbor Island. He didn’t seem to be going anywhere.

  • TOmmy March 27, 2010 (11:15 pm)

    Thanks West Seattle Blog for the story. Just saw the story on Kiro, but found nothing on their website about it. Story, links and input is very much appreciated.

  • Elaine Wine March 28, 2010 (11:01 am)

    While running at the lower beach in Discovery Park Saturday morning approximately 8:45 I also identified a gray whale very close to shore. I don’t know if it’s the same one (although the mottled back markings from the photos look similar) but it was alone and heading southward to the lighthouse.

    • WSB March 28, 2010 (11:19 am)

      highly unlikely since right about that time folks were watching this one from Lincoln Park down here, but always good to know … maybe more than 1’s in the area! Keep an eye out for this one up there today, hasn’t been seen in our waters again this morning so far.

  • Shari March 29, 2010 (11:54 am)

    Here is a great Vimeo video of the whale I came across — not sure who the poster is, but it’s awesome quality! http://vimeo.com/10513785

    • WSB March 29, 2010 (11:57 am)

      Thanks, we posted that video on our site last night. Cliff DesPeaux is a local photojournalist; he and seattlepi.com’s Josh Trujillo got great visuals Saturday night and we have linked to them all – TR

  • MargL April 7, 2010 (7:48 am)

    Awww – I wonder if it was the one spotted here in W. Seattle that got really really lost…

    • WSB April 7, 2010 (9:24 am)

      I sent the Orca Network a question to that effect night after last. Haven’t heard back. They had been in touch with Cascadia Research.

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