Somebody texted a while ago to report a beaver at Don Armeni. We suspect it’s the same critter Sharon Wada photographed earlier today, sending the pics and noting, “This guy looks like he’s surfing! So many people I talked to said this was the first time they’ve seen a beaver walking and swimming in the tideoools before swimming along the edge towards Elliott Bay. Feel free to post these pictures of what looks to be a beaver; however, some have asked if it was a nutria.”

11 years ago, a similar sighting in a Junction yard resulted in a commenter consensus of “marmot.” Here are infopages for beavers, nutria, and marmot (seems unlikely). Thoughts?

31 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: Seen 'surfing'"

  • Rick July 4, 2020 (2:39 pm)

    It looks like a mountain beaver, which is not a true beaver. I’ve seen them swimming in the ship canal near the Fremont Bridge. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_beaver

  • AMD July 4, 2020 (2:46 pm)

    Those three animals have distinctly different tails, so if we can see its hind parts, it should be clear which animal it is.  While anything is possible in the year 2020, my money would be on it being a beaver.  If a nutria is willing to swim in Puget Sound waters, that’s kind of alarming.  They prefer warmer areas (there are lots on the Gulf coast). Beautiful pictures, though, thanks for sharing!

  • JT July 4, 2020 (2:50 pm)

    More likely it is a River Otter.  Despite the name, they are very common in Puget Sound, and quite playful. 

  • Samuella Samaniego July 4, 2020 (3:32 pm)

    Kinda thinking it’s a beaver but i’m always open to being wrong :-l . There is significant forward lift in his or her glide and surfing if my interpretation of the photo moment is accurate. That lift could be from a flatter type of tail as opposed to a rat like tail. I’m not particularly well informed at all with nutria’s tail characteristics. Gotta stop now, I’m just making myself homesick for surfing. :-(  Thank you so much for making the pics available to everyone!

  • Kris July 4, 2020 (3:34 pm)

    I cast one vote for beaver! He’s super cute!!! 

  • RT July 4, 2020 (3:43 pm)

    There was a pair of river otters living along Bonair a few years ago that looked a lot like this critter

  • Joan July 4, 2020 (4:05 pm)

    The head and feet look like beaver. 

  • Sharon July 4, 2020 (4:06 pm)

    Pretty sure it’s a beaver.  Here is a side view.  A bit hard to see the flat tail but in some of the photos, it has a paddle-like appearance.

  • john July 4, 2020 (4:08 pm)

    watch My bet is Nutria (coypu), which is a relatively new non-native  invasive threat to the Northwest.  These  ‘river rats’ are doing vast damage to waterways starting in Florida decades ago and now found everywhere including Washington.  They breed year-round multiplying like rats.  In Florida, there is a bounty on them with unlimited killing encouraged.   Creative marketers and chefs are attempting to market Nutria meat, to little avail.”Myocastor coypus (coypu) is a large semi-aquatic rodent which originated from South America. However, due to escapes and releases from fur farms there are now large feral populations in North America, Europe and Asia.”

  • Yma July 4, 2020 (4:09 pm)

    No way is that an otter.not nutria & not marmot/ whistle pig. Betting it’s a beaver of some sort – but true, If we could see the tail, that’d clinch it. Great photos!

  • flimflam July 4, 2020 (4:25 pm)

    def not an otter, unless it has some seriously reliable food source!

  • Sunflower July 4, 2020 (4:26 pm)


    They are a cute thing and that surfing looks fun :)

  • Sharon July 4, 2020 (4:31 pm)

    Hope this helps to solve the mystery! 

  • Nancy July 4, 2020 (4:42 pm)

    Not the teeth of a nutria, and have never “heard” a marmot below about 2500 feet.  Marmots have a distinctive high pitched call/squeal.  Looks like a beaver to me.

  • LCM July 4, 2020 (4:48 pm)

    Best. Picture.  Ever.

  • Smittytheclown July 4, 2020 (4:54 pm)

    These are fantastic photos.  You guys ever thought about adding a “like” button?  Maybe even to comments.  I’d get lots of thumbs down!  Happy Independence Day everyone! 

  • Suzanne Krom July 4, 2020 (5:43 pm)

    Beaver is definitely correct. Sharon’s photos of the tail clinch it. I sent the link to my contact at WDFW and he agrees — “Indeed that is an American beaver. Looks like it is having a blast🤣”__________________________________________________ Chris AndersonDistrict Wildlife BiologistDistrict 12, King CountyWA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife – Region 416018 Mill Creek Blvd.Mill Creek, WA 98012425.775.1311, ext 111Christopher.Anderson@dfw.wa.govhttp://wdfw.wa.gov

  • Kersti July 4, 2020 (6:39 pm)

    I found a dead beaver at Emma Schmitz several years ago. Was believed to have come from golden gardens

  • Sharon July 4, 2020 (7:01 pm)

    Thanks for the kind comments.Here is some interesting information on beavers in Washington.  Am learning new stuff today!https://www.hakaimagazine.com/features/the-gnawing-question-of-saltwater-beavers/

  • Steve July 4, 2020 (7:27 pm)

    Hey! That’s not a mountain beaver, thats a Justin Beaver! They look similar though.

  • Leslie July 4, 2020 (7:29 pm)

    A few years ago I found a dead beaver that got caught under our fence. We have since seen a beaver running along the beach, being chased by crows, of course. There are definitely beavers in the area.

  • Shannon July 4, 2020 (10:18 pm)


  • Mj July 4, 2020 (10:38 pm)

    The DAB, Don Armeni Beaver, is taking for AT, Admiral Turkey.  

  • anonyme July 5, 2020 (8:27 am)

    So cool that we have beavers around here.  Speaking of the turkey, have there been any reports of her lately?

  • Ben July 5, 2020 (8:49 am)

    There is fresh evidence of beaver activity at Dragonfly Pavillion every year, but I have never seen one there. I always assumed they were fresh water animals. So happy to find out they like salt water too! Longfellow is such a polluted mess, at least the beaver can stand it even if the salmon can’t! 

  • MP July 5, 2020 (10:49 pm)

    I’m just here for the comment section. 

  • Jen Vanderhoof July 13, 2020 (2:17 pm)

    Hi folks, the animal in the photograph is a beaver, the North American beaver, Castor canadensis. There is no debate about what species is in the incredible photographs by Sharon Wada. Feel free to also read information about this awesome species on the King County website: http://www.kingcounty.gov/beavers

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