While we don’t usually spend much time looking back as each year wraps up, we do have a few reviews to share before 2016 makes its exit tomorrow night. First – our picks for the year’s top 5 West Seattle wildlife stories:
#5 – THE MYSTERY TURKEY(S)
(May 2016 photo taken near Alki Elementary by Emily)
Back in May, we started getting reports about, and photos of, a turkey ambling about West Seattle – from Pigeon Point to Lincoln Park to Alki. Then-Seattle Animal Shelter director Don Jordan (RIP) told WSB the sightings might have involved multiple turkeys. The mystery was never solved, but what might have been the same turkey turned up in North Seattle neighborhoods a few weeks later, we learned from commenters.
#4 – ‘WESTLEY’ THE DEER
(November 2016 photo taken along Beach Drive by Jonny)
Some found it hilarious that West Seattleites were so interested in a deer, given their proliferation in other areas as close as Vashon Island, just across the water. But the deer that appeared here in November, quickly nicknamed “Westley” in comments, was the first deer seen in West Seattle in a very long time. It was also observed that Westley seemed to be the same deer dubbed “Lefty” during sightings in Union Bay months earlier. While here, he crisscrossed the peninsula, and many worried he would come to an end via someone’s bumper – but instead, he headed south, and at last mention had been seen in Federal Way.
#3 – LINCOLN PARK GEESE PROCREATION, THEN RELOCATION
(Photo courtesy BaaHaus, from the geese’s trip to a vet)
In June, hearts were warmed by news that the well-known white geese of Lincoln Park (and vicinity) had babies. But it wasn’t long before the sad news that two had been hit and killed. Then one of the adults vanished. And in a startling development in September – the surviving geese were captured and relocated to a Vashon Island sanctuary. Later in September, we published this report with followup information (and backstory on how the geese got to Fauntleroy in the first place), and that’s the last we’ve heard.
#2 – THE FAUNTLEROY HUMPBACK
It was the first time in six years that a whale stranded and died on a West Seattle beach – a 39-foot-long female humpback showed up south of the Fauntleroy ferry dock on August 7th, and within a few hours, within view of a growing group of onlookers, took her last breath. (Here’s our chronicle of how the day unfolded.) As the tide went out, researchers, officials, and volunteers converged, first for some early necropsy work, then to get the whale off the beach as the tide rose again. As sad as her death was, her presence on the beach also provided a rare educational opportunity, as people from local groups including Killer Whale Tales, The Whale Trail, and Seal Sitters not only helped with the logistics of dealing with the whale, but spoke with and answered questions from those who came to see for themselves. Two days later, a crew from West Seattle-based Global Diving and Salvage towed the whale’s carcass to a final resting place off Blake Island.
#1 – JOY AND SORROW FOR PUGET SOUND’S RESIDENT ORCAS
(Photo by Gary Jones – orcas seen from Alki Point in November)
Less than three weeks into 2016, we learned that J-Pod had been seen with two newborn calves – one alive, one dead. The live calf was the ninth in less than a year for the Southern Resident Killer Whales, which brought some cautious hope for the endangered orcas’ future. But the baby boom did not continue into the year, and by fall, the warnings were dire: The orcas are running out of time. Another death this month underscored that point. And by the time vigils were held a few nights later, the question remained: What can … what will … the people of Puget Sound do before the orcas dwindle beyond the point where recovery would be not just improbable but impossible? 2017 could bring a turning point.
You can see all the wildlife stories covered on WSB this year – and in previous years – by browsing this archive.
| 5 COMMENTS