West Seattle, Washington
(Photo by Dave Ellifrit)
Puget Sound’s endangered orca pods – the Southern Resident Killer Whales – have another calf, the eighth in the past year. The announcement came tonight from the Center for Whale Research:
Another new Baby in J Pod!! Designated J54 – sex unknown.
Mother is J28, a twenty-two year old female Southern Resident Killer Whale in the Pacific Northwest. The mother had a previous baby designated J46, a female, born in 2009 and still surviving. This brings the known births of Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) to EIGHT since last December, and the total population of SRKW’s as of now to 84 known individuals. 1977 is the only previous year in the past forty years in which as many baby killer whales were born into this community of whales, and there were nine in that year. From calculations accounting for all reproductive age females, we estimate that typically up to nine babies could be produced each year, but there is usually a high rate of neonatal and perinatal mortality, and we have seen only three babies annually on average. In the years immediately following poor salmon years, we see fewer babies and higher mortality of all age cohorts.
The new baby, J54, was first seen on 1 December 2015 by several whale-watchers near San Juan Island, and photographed with J28 by Ivan Reiff, a Pacific Whale Watch Association member. However, the 1 December photographs were not conclusive in that they did not reveal distinct features of eyepatch and “saddle” pigment shape that could unequivocally rule out that it was not another baby being “baby sat” by J28. Today’s photographs in Haro Strait between San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island confirm the distinct features required for alpha-numeric designation. The new baby is estimated to be two and a half to three weeks old as of now. The family, including mother and sister, grandmother, aunt, uncles, and cousin, and other J pod members continued North in Haro Strait and Swanson Channel by sunset. Presumably, they are destined for the Strait of Georgia where J pod spent an extended amount of time last December.
It is clear that the SRKW population (in particular J pod) is investing in the future, and that survival of all of the new calves and their mothers and relatives depends upon a future with plentiful salmon, especially Chinook salmon, in the eastern North Pacific Ocean ecosystem. This may be problematic with pending and unfolding Climate Change that is anticipated to be detrimental to salmon survival, in the ocean and in the rivers. Warmer ocean waters are less productive, and rivers without continual water (no snow melt – rains runoff too quickly) and with warmer water are lethal to salmon. The Pacific Salmon Foundation and Long Live the Kings are non-profit organizations concerned with the declining survival of juvenile salmon in the Salish Sea, and the Center for Whale Research is a non-profit organization concerned with the survival and demographic vigor of the Southern Resident Killer Whales in the Salish Sea and coastally from Vancouver Island to California. Please get involved and support these important environmental organizations.
The SRKWs’ baby boom started late last year.
Those are the cheery carolers who showed up this afternoon outside a house near Madison Middle School, to make the season brighter for a seriously ill neighbor. We mentioned the call for carolers here late last night; Marcia wanted to surprise her friend Harold, a retired police officer who loves Christmas. We counted at least 25 people of all ages:
Marcia was going in and out of Harold’s house to be sure he was seeing the carolers – and thto show him some of the singing that she recorded on her tablet. She reports he was touched and called it the best Christmas gift he’d ever received.
5:20 PM: Just forwarded by multiple Chief Sealth International High School parents, this letter sent to families by principal Aida Fraser-Hammer:
I want to notify you of an incident which occurred today at our school. A few minutes before the start of school today, a teacher found a magazine from a .22 caliber gun in his classroom. There were 2 bullets in the magazine.
The teacher immediately brought the magazine to my office and we immediately began an investigation to determine how and when the magazine got there, to whom it belonged and the location of the gun that the magazine fit into. Naturally, our first concern was for the safety of all students and staff.
After a thorough investigation, we were able to quickly identify the location of the gun, the student who brought it to campus, and that the gun was not loaded. The student was arrested and charged with bringing a gun on campus and possession of a stolen gun. Please know that everything was handled in a safe and secure fashion without putting any of our students or staff in danger. The student was removed from campus without resistance. I want to applaud the security and the teacher for their prompt response to the situation.
This is the only notification/announcement we’re seeing – nothing from Seattle Police or Seattle Public Schools. So we have a variety of questions to follow up on, and will add anything more we subsequently find out.
5:40 PM: While the letter says the incident happened “before the start of school” – which suggests, in the 8 am hour – the e-mail is time-stamped 4:49 pm, and the only reference to the incident we’re finding on Tweets by Beat is this call, time-stamped 4:25 pm. (Added clarification at 6:21 pm: The automated tweet was at 4:25 pm; it says the incident was “reported” at 3:52 pm. That is likely the time the report was finalized in the system, as we subsequently got confirmation it happened and was called in in the morning.)
5:46 PM: We did just reach Det. Patrick Michaud at SPD media relations, to get some additional details: The student is 15 years old and was taken to juvenile detention. The gun was a .22-caliber handgun and it was indeed confirmed as stolen; the letter’s use of the word “charged,” however, is inaccurate, as it would be up to prosecutors to decide whether to file charges. The police report says the school called SPD about this at 11:25 am.
That photo courtesy of West Seattle Nursery is a view from their original building, looking at the crane that has arrived for their expansion project next door. Today’s milestone: The walls are starting to go up. (See more photos on the WSN website.) It’s been a little over two months since work started in earnest, with demolition of the small old house on the lot to the north of the current nursery (they offered to give it away to anyone who could move it, but nothing worked out). The expansion, designed by LD Arch Design and built by Ventana Construction (both West Seattle businesses and WSB sponsors), is expected to be done by spring; find more details here.
Thanks to Eddie for the tip: Cleanup work is under way at the overgrown, vandalized ex-church at 3025 SW Avalon Way. The site came up for discussion in WSB comments when we reported an early-stage 60-apartment proposal nearby. Still nothing on the books for this site, and we verified with the crew on site that they’re contractors hired for cleanup, no construction involved. (The city page for the site shows a history of complaints about its conditions in recent years.)
Six months ago, Mayor Murray announced he was breaking up the Department of Planning and Development. Now, the two-way split is about to become official. If you’re interested in land use/development/construction/related issues, here’s what the city says you need to know:
FOOD TRUCK BACK AT C & P: 11 am-2 pm, you get another chance to try Napkin Friends, the “latke-sandwich food truck,” at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor), parked out back. (5612 California SW)
GRAB YOUR LUNCH AND TAKE IT TO … the free weekly networking meetup at our area’s only coworking center, West Seattle Office Junction (WSB sponsor), a few blocks south – details here. (6040 California SW)
COLLEGE PREP WORKSHOP: Trust us, if someone in your household is looking ahead to college, there’s no such thing as being TOO prepared. So check out this 4 pm workshop at High Point Community Center. (6920 34th SW)
DO A GOOD DEED – CAROL! As we noted late last night, a West Seattle woman is asking for volunteer carolers to join her for a few minutes to make a very ill neighbor (who is a retired police officer) happy – meet at 4:30 pm in the 3600 block of 48th SW.
‘CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS!’ Community Christmas party tonight at Trinity West Seattle, 6:30 pm. “Everyone is welcome! There will be pictures with Santa, ‘Santa’s Workshop’ (crafts and activities for kids), live music by Lindstrom & Company, and a dessert bar.” (7551 35th SW)
HOLIDAY MUSIC: Sounds of Christmas concert at Hope Lutheran Church, 7 pm: “Join us for a fantastic evening of music performed by the Hope School Choir, Glee Club, Bell Choir, and the Seattle Lutheran High School band. All are welcome and encouraged to come join the festivities!” (42nd SW & SW Oregon)
34TH DISTRICT REPUBLICANS: 7 pm at the American Legion Hall in The Triangle, it’s the group’s holiday party, with guest Sen. Mark Miloscia, who’s running for state auditor. (3618 SW Alaska)
AND ONE MORE LOOK AT THE OLYMPICS … got this from John Bartell moments after we had published this, so, adding!
Thanks again to our photo contributors – firstname.lastname@example.org or if it’s breaking, you can also text 206-293-6302!
(SCROLL DOWN FOR W. MARGINAL WAY SW CLOSURE UPDATES)
(Six WS-relevant views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
7:09 AM: Though there’s been no alert from SDOT, we’re told West Marginal Way SW is still closed near the Duwamish Longhouse, following a crash last night that was reported to have taken out a utility pole.
7:38 AM: Our crew has just verified that it’s indeed closed both ways in the 4700 block while Seattle City Light crews work on repairs:
The pole is down by the Herrings House Park entrance on the river side of the road.
8:10 AM: Here’s a view showing the work right over the Duwamish Trail:
8:34 AM: Now there’s a crash at W. Marginal Way and Puget Way. Multiple sources say it involves a semi-truck.
9:09 AM: For now, we’ll continue updating the W. Marginal situation here. We’re also checking with City Light on why this has been an all-night-and-beyond repair job.
9:31 AM: City Light’s Scott Thomsen explains why this has been so complicated:
The crash involved a semi tractor-trailer. It obliterated the pole.
First, crews had to wait for the semi to be removed before they could start work.
They also have had to take extra safety precautions because the location is right next to a railroad line. That’s why the crews have been using the roadway as their work zone. Other safety considerations are in place because of an adjacent high-voltage transmission line.
Then there’s the complicated nature of the repair because of the equipment that particular pole was hosting.
That pole was carrying two feeder circuits and switching gear. It uses our heaviest, most robust wire, so replacing the lines requires more equipment and lineworkers.
Because of the location and the weight of all that gear, the pole was reinforced with a support pole and multiple guy wires on the opposite side of the road.
Crews continue to work on replacing all of that equipment and expect to finish about noon.
11:57 AM: Thanks to the commenter who reported that W. Marginal Way SW now has one lane open each way.
ADDED WEDNESDAY EVENING: We asked SDOT about the lack of signage and other alerts. Spokesperson Norm Mah replied: “While Seattle City Light had appropriate traffic control near their major electrical repair response, advance warning signage on the roadway likely would have been beneficial for providing earlier warning to the traveling public. We will work with SCL to ensure they incorporate that for future emergency repair responses that require temporary roadway closures.”