West Seattle, Washington
It’s been two and a half weeks since news that the last surviving Southern Resident Killer Whale from the captures half a century ago might be able to come home after all. But will a homecoming really happen for the 57-year-old orca Lolita/Tokitae? As this report from Florida explores, there’s some controversy and confusion on that side of the country, and even if plans can be worked out, the whale’s move could be years away. In today’s Seattle Times, West Seattle-based The Whale Trail executive director Donna Sandstrom writes about lessons learned in an orca reunion with which she was involved, that of Springer, the Northern Resident orca who got lost down here. We had asked Sandstrom recently for her thoughts on the Lolita/Tokitae announcement, and here’s what she told us:
The big news in the recent release is that the Miami Seaquarium is on board, and they have found a committed funder. However, returning an orca is not as simple as the stories make it sound. Having secured these major commitments, I’d encourage the organizers to take the next most critical step and start talking with NOAA.
Based on my experience working on the Lolita project in the mid-1990s, and as a community organizer on the successful effort to return Springer to her pod in 2002, here are some things to consider.
1. If Lolita is going to be moved to a net pen in Puget Sound, NOAA Fisheries will be the decision-maker, and have ultimate authority and responsibility for the project, in consultation with other key stakeholders like Washington State and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
2. Before permitting a reintroduction or relocation to a new facility such as a net pen, NOAA and their teams will consider the benefits compared to the risk – for Lolita, for her endangered family, and for the marine ecosystem here. It’s a complex set of conditions with no easy answers. For example:
-How healthy is Lolita? Will she be able to survive the stress of the relocation, and re-adapt to life in Puget Sound?
-The southern resident orcas are critically endangered. The organizers propose to put Lolita in an open-sided net pen in Puget Sound. What is the risk of disease transmission between them and Lolita, and vice versa? Or between Lolita and other marine mammals?
-In 2017 a net pen catastrophically collapsed in Puget Sound, not far from where they propose to put Lolita. As the impacts of global warming accelerate, including increasing high tides and severe storms, how can the structural integrity of the pen, and Lolita’s safety, be ensured for as long as she might live?
-If a reintroduction is not possible, and she is “retired” permanently to a net pen in SRKW range, what would it do to her to be able to hear her family and not join them? What would that do to her family (L pod)?
For Springer, NOAA determined that there was a high likelihood of success and that it was a risk worth taking. I am not sure where that analysis will land for Lolita. But it is in everyone’s best interest – especially Lolita’s – to get that conversation going.
The federal agency made one key ruling on Lolita/Tokitae’s behalf eight years ago – ruling that she would be included in the listing of the Southern Resident Killer Whales as endangered. That announcement noted that “any future plan to move or release Lolita would require a permit from NOAA Fisheries and would undergo rigorous scientific review.”
Two readers reported finding these abandoned in parks:
MOTORCYCLE: This report is from Matthew:
Found: 2010 or 2011 red and white Husqvarna motorcycle in Pigeon Point Park on Friday morning about 8:30 am.
If it’s yours, or you think you know the owner, contact us – email@example.com – and we’ll connect you. Same goes for this:
BICYCLE: Sarah found this bike in Lincoln Park:
Thanks to everyone who has helped reunite people with stolen/lost items, big and small!
The project team for the northwest corner of 16th/Barton has filed a land-use application for the project, and that opens a new comment window for the site that’s officially known as 9059 16th SW. As first reported here last July, the proposal is for a 4-story, 67-microapartment building with no offstreet vehicle parking and spaces for 67 bicycles. The site is vacant, since the fire-gutted building that formerly occupied it was demolished months ago. The deadline to comment is April 26th; this notice explains how. The project is going through Administrative Design Review, which means no public meetings; here’s the early-design packet by SHW Architecture.
Postcard placement of that rainbow about an hour ago, as seen from the Harbor Avenue waterfront. The photo above is from Stewart L.; below, an uncredited texted view featuring the West Seattle Water Taxi:
Sun’s out right now but the forecast suggests a shower or even thunderstorm could return this evening.
A resident of the Cal-Mor Circle apartment building at 6420 California SW in Morgan Junction emailed to let us know they had received notice of a planned 10-hour power outage tomorrow (Tuesday, April 18th) to replace a utility pole. We checked with Seattle City Light, which says the 8 am-6 pm outage will only affect that one building, and that each of its 75 units should have received a hand-delivered notice three weeks ago. The pole that’s going to be replaced is in the alley behind the building, and needs to come down because of “previous damage.”
(Video by Tom Trulin)
It’s a simple sight – water, flowing – and yet restoring that flow wasn’t simple at all. We’ve been updating you on work to unclog Fauntleroy Creek‘s 45th Avenue SW culvert, caught by creek stewards who called for city help after they saw “ponding” upstream, and now Seattle Public Utilities confirms its most-recent efforts last week succeeded. Crews removed “most of the blockage,” reports SPU, adding, “We are still monitoring the culvert and evaluating whether additional short-term work is needed to ensure the culvert’s operation.” We asked what they pulled out of the culvert to unclog it; SPU spokesperson Sabrina Register replied, “Debris – mud, leaves and branches, and possible slurry – created the blockage. SPU is looking into the debris’ contents and its origins.” The utility continues working on a long-term plan to replace the culvert, with construction expected to start in 2026. Fauntleroy Creek is one of the few remaining salmon-bearing creeks in Seattle; this year’s fry releases as part of the Salmon in the Schools program start toward the end of this month.
Another stolen car that you might be the one to spot – reported via email and text:
1998 Subaru Impreza was stolen this morning between 7 am and 8 am on California Ave outside PCC Market. Plate BQV0237. Stickers on rear windshield. Gold rims.
If you call in a sighting, refer to SPD incident # 23-103252.
Back in February, we reported on the rapid growth of the relatively new Westside Pickleball League, an all-ages group playing the official Washington state sport. The story noted that the group was seeking Seattle Public Schools permission to add pickleball lines to the district-owned Nino Cantu Southwest Athletic Complex courts west of Southwest Pool. One of the league administrators, Amy Greger, tells us that they have now received that permission, and the league will cover the cost of painting lines for 12 pickleball courts on the six tennis courts. As explained here, the weather has to warm up a bit before the courts can be cleaned and painting can be done. They’re hoping to have the initial league tournament at the NCSWAC courts in June.
ADDED TUESDAY: The league clarifies, SPS has given permission to paint lines for six pickleball courts, while six more will be “marked for taping.”
Here’s what’s happening this afternoon/evening:
BABY STORY TIME: Baby Story Time is back, noon-12:30 pm Mondays at Southwest Library (9010 35th SW).
MONDAY MOVIE: 1 pm at Senior Center of West Seattle (4217 SW Oregon), “Terry’s Greatest Movies You’ve Never Heard Of,” today featuring “Remember the Day.” Free popcorn! Contact SCWS to register in advance.
CITY COUNCIL BRIEFING MEETING: Canceled today.
FREE INDOOR PLAYSPACE: Free Toddler Gym weekday afternoons at the Salvation Army Center (9050 16th SW), ages 2-6, 3:30-5 pm.
CRAFTING AND CREATIVITY NIGHT: 6-10 pm at The Missing Piece (9456 35th SW), info here.
D&D: Open D&D starts at 6:30 pm at Meeples Games (3727 California SW), all welcome, even first-time players. $5.
(added) LIVE AT EASY STREET: Waterparks perform in-store, 7 pm. Pre-order an album to get an otherwise-free spot. (4559 California SW)
SPORTS: Baseball at 7 pm at Nino Cantu Southwest Athletic Complex (2801 SW Thistle): Chief Sealth IHS hosts Cleveland.
PLAY TRIVIA! Three scheduled options on Monday nights for playing trivia – 7 and 8 pm Sporcle Pub Quiz at Three 9 Lounge (4505 39th SW); 7 pm at The Good Society (California/Lander), 7:30 pm at The Skylark (3803 Delridge Way SW)
Have a West Seattle/White Center event to add to our calendar ? Please send info to firstname.lastname@example.org – thank you!
9:54 PM: Thanks for the tips and photos (the one above is from Madeline). That car turned up on the beach at Cormorant Cove Park (3700 block of Beach Drive) early today. It had been towed by the time we got there for a look but our photographer says tire tracks suggest it arrived on the beach via the path from the sidewalk. We’re checking with SPD to see if they have more information on what happened; the initial report is logged at 6 am as “suspicious circumstances.”
1:29 PM: Cynthia sent that photo, saying that’s what she saw just before 6 am, and she promptly called 911. SFD initially sent a “water rescue response” but canceled the units after determining the car was empty. Still waiting to hear from SPD, particularly regarding whether the car was stolen.
1:45 PM: And now we know. SPD tells WSB the car had been stolen, from Renton.
9:20 AM: Avoid SW Morgan at 34th, Kevin advises, sending this photo in explanation:
Kevin says that’s been happening for more than half an hour.
10:30 AM: Scene’s clear, per texter (thanks again for all the tips on this).
6:03 AM: Good morning! It’s Monday, April 17th. back to school for Seattle Public Schools and others that were out on break last week.
WEATHER & SUNRISE/SUNSET TIMES
The forecast for today: Showers, chance of pm thunderstorms, breezy, high in the low 50s. Sunrise 6:17 am, sunset 8:02 pm.
As noted on Friday, the new pedestrian-activated signal at 12th/Holden is operational.
Water Taxi – Service resumes today after weekend break, with spring/summer schedule including Friday/Saturday late-night runs.
Washington State Ferries‘ Triangle Route continues on the 2-boat schedule; check here for alerts/updates and see Vessel Watch for boats’ locations. The Seattle-Bremerton run has a smaller boat because of the weekend Walla Walla incident, so that might mean some spillover to the Fauntleroy-Southworth run.
SPOTLIGHT TRAFFIC CAMERAS
High Bridge – the camera at the top:
High Bridge – the view from its southwest end (when SDOT points the 35th/Avalon/Fauntleroy camera that way):
Low Bridge – looking southwestward toward it:
1st Ave. S. Bridge – another route across the river:
Highway 99: – the northbound side at Lander.
BRIDGE INFO: Check the @SDOTBridges Twitter feed to see if the city’s movable bridges are opening for vessel traffic.
If you see a problem on the bridges/streets/paths/bay, please text or call us (when you can do it safely, and after you’ve reported to authorities). Thank you!
There have been more “possible gunfire” reports tonight than usual, in various areas. We haven’t heard of any being confirmed so far (pending a check of report summaries in the morning). But the most-recent reports have definitely been debunked. 911 sent officers to investigate multiple reports in Admiral and heard it themselves, subsequently telling dispatch that they discovered someone had been setting off fireworks outside the Benbow Room in connection with a birthday celebration.