MORE PHOTOS/VIDEO: West Seattle’s day of the whale, and the people it brought to the beach


WSB photos by Christopher Boffoli and Patrick Sand; reader contributions credited below

From shortly after the first text message came in early Sunday morning, until a Washington State Ferries crew finished a short tow early Sunday evening, we covered here how hundreds of people, responders and spectators, dealt with West Seattle’s first stranded whale in six years. We shared many scenes of the day in photos and video, but we have more to show – telling the story, really, of the people as much as of the whale (including, added 6:56 am, “Diver Laura” James‘s 360-degree video):

By day’s end, researchers had declared this to be a female juvenile humpback whale, 39 feet long, much thinner than she should have been.


At the start, we knew only that it was a humpback, and that it was still alive, for a while. From the ferry-dock walkway, we heard its occasional shuddering breaths, and at one point felt the mist of a mighty spout – like this one recorded on video just after 8 am, by DLBJ:

Though it could not dive, its hump was seen to arch, its fluke rose out of the water, as you can see, repeatedly, in Jim Clark‘s video:

As the tide went out, responders went in – as you can see at the end of Jim’s video – to try to keep the whale wet:

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But even by then, something had changed. No more audible breaths. The fluke simply floated. The whale’s life had ebbed away, as the tide did, revealing her full majesty.


All along the way – the responders … from near, including Seal Sitters (left foreground below, David Hutchinson and Lynn Shimamoto) and even Seattle Police:


Seal Sitters’ Robin Lindsey was an early arrival, setting up the protection perimeter on the privately owned beach:

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The biologists – from Cascadia Research Collective as well as state and federal:


(Click here for the full-on view of what that cutting revealed.)

All collaborating:


All dwarfed by their subject:


Close-up, you could see the barnacles, the whale lice, that hitch rides on whales like this:


Throughout the day, people came to look, to consider:


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Even drivers coming off the ferries slowed to gawk, and Washington State Ferries made numerous reminder announcements throughout the day to keep things moving and to try to keep the sidewalks clear:


Down on the beach, residents graciously accommodated the people who came with a job to do, us included. Our thanks in particular to Mike Dey and Susan Lantz-Dey, who provided a chair and coffee. Until the texts started going off early on what was supposed to be Seafair Sunday, we didn’t realize it would turn out to be a whale of a day.

(Added 6:56 am) As mentioned in our coverage, “Diver Laura” James brought her 360-degree video gear. After hitting “play,” you can click the video and “drag” it around to see the full view – above, below, behind, wherever you want to look:

(View it on the YouTube site by going here.)

WHAT’S NEXT: As reported in our Sunday coverage, the whale is to be towed out this morning to someplace where it can be sunk. At some point afterward, we can expect to hear what was found in the necropsy work done on the beach.

10 Replies to "MORE PHOTOS/VIDEO: West Seattle's day of the whale, and the people it brought to the beach"

  • D-Mom August 8, 2016 (8:07 am)

    It’s amazing to see the community response to this sad event. The video by Laura is such a beautiful way to say goodbye. Thanks for including that. 

  • Alki Resident August 8, 2016 (8:30 am)

    What a stunning creature. 

  • RC August 8, 2016 (9:14 am)

    Watched a whale pass away. Tough way to start the day. But it got better. Incredible experience.

  • Mike Dey August 8, 2016 (12:29 pm)

    Patrick and Tracy,

         Great reporting job as usual.  So what I learned observing the necropsy is that at least part of the malnutrition was due to a 30+’ tapeworm in the whales intestine.  Further as they were taking tissue samples for evaluation they noted some ascites which they sampled and will give them some further info into cause of death.    As John mentioned in the video there no visible signs of physical injury.  John also mentioned that they are often unable to determine the cause of death.  Having said that, when they are done with their tissue analyses while they may not be able to definitively identify the cause of death they will be able to rule out environmental causes such as metals and pesticides and other environmental contaminants.  

    • WSB August 8, 2016 (12:55 pm)

      Thanks, Mike! We walked onto the dock around midmorning to see if the whale/floats were still there … looking down onto your beach, you’d never know, at least from the overlook, what a hub of activity and drama it was yesterday … TR

  • John August 8, 2016 (1:11 pm)

    Horribly sad to see such a beautiful mammal die.  I really hope it’s not our pollution that caused it’s death……………  Remember that one years back that had plastic grocery bags in it’s stomach….shame on us.

  • Monica Guzman August 8, 2016 (1:52 pm)

    Beautiful reporting, Tracy. Thank you. I feel in love with humpback whales as a kid and seeing these photos and videos made me tear up.  “The whale’s life had ebbed away, as the tide did, revealing her full majesty.” Your writing did her justice.

    • WSB August 8, 2016 (2:24 pm)

      Thank you.

  • anonyme August 8, 2016 (2:30 pm)

    What a sad, sad week for beautiful sea mammals.

  • T Rex August 8, 2016 (2:32 pm)

    Glad to see respect was given to this magnificent creature.

    When the Fin whale washed up in at Seahurst beach a few years ago, people were letting their children play on it until someone finally roped it off.

     Great reporting WSB as usual.  


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