Seen at sea 934 results

West Seattle whale-watching: Orca sighting

8:55 AM: Texter says orcas are northbound, passing The Arroyos – midchannel, at least three whales.

10:04 AM: Another texter says the orcas are now reported to be north of Blake Island, “at least five orcas, crossing north of the midchannel buoy.” Also, we’ve added a photo from the first tipster, Chris Frankovich.

Seen off West Seattle: Peace Boat arriving

Thanks to Jim Borrow for photographing the Peace Boat, arriving in Seattle for the first time early today; it’s now docked at Pier 66 downtown (shown on with its official name, Ocean Dream). From the news release explaining the ship and what will happen during its visit here:

… Since 2008, Peace Boat has coordinated the “Global Voyage for a Nuclear Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project,” inviting more than 170 Hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) to travel onboard the ship, calling for a nuclear-free future. On this voyage, two Hibakusha (one from Hiroshima and another from Nagasaki) and one 2nd Generation Hibakusha are visiting 25 ports in 24 countries, where they are sharing their testimony as a means to call for nuclear abolition. These participants are also acting as “Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons” as accredited by the Japanese Government.

Yesterday was the 73rd anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing; Thursday marks the same anniversary for Nagasaki. This is the last stop of the ship’s current voyage before it returns to Japan.

Seen off West Seattle: R/V Sally Ride

Thanks to David Hutchinson for photographing the R/V Sally Ride, seen off West Seattle today. It’s a U.S. Navy=owned research vessel, operated by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, named for the first American woman in space. Tonight, shows it off the north end of Harbor Island. The 238-foot vessel was built by Dakota Creek Industries up in Anacortes.

P.S. If you’ve been noticing the big gray USNS Bob Hope anchored across the bay in recent days – looks like it finally left today; MT shows it currently up in Everett.

FERRY BACKUP UPDATE: Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth run returns to 3 boats

6:43 PM: Friday afternoon ferry backups in Fauntleroy are regular occurrences but today’s has been far worse than usual – there’s an extra problem: The Washington State Ferries run between here, Vashon, and Southworth is down a boat. The WSF bulletin says, “Vessel #2 M/V Sealth is out of service until further notice due to problems with the number one engine. Vessel maintenance crews are assessing the problem. All vessel #2 departures are cancelled. #1 Cathlamet and #3 Kitsap are following the regular schedule for #1 and #3 departures.” One tipster reported a backup on Fauntleroy Way all the way to Fairmount Park.

SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE: The third boat returned as of 5:35 am, per WSF.

About the green stuff in Puget Sound

(Photographed Tuesday)

Several people have asked about the green streaks/patches visible in Puget Sound this week. We’ve reported before on the red patches – and the short answer is that the green stuff is a lot like the red stuff: Algae blooms. Not the same exact type – the red algae (noctiluca) seems to be unique in that coloration – but as the state Ecology Department notes, algae blooms come in many colors. What they have in common: They’re a sign something is awry – the water is too full of “nutrients,” a catch-all term for many things – including, according to Ecology:

Human sources of nutrients include (among others):

Treated sewage
Over-application of fertilizers that get into stormwater runoff
onsite sewage systems (OSS)
Poorly managed land use practices

Natural sources, too, “but analyses indicate that human nutrient sources are making things worse,” says the state. Good for algae – bad for animals and plants that need oxygen-rich water. The state does an aerial survey that leads to a report titled Eyes on Puget Sound – the mid-July edition is here.

PHOTOS: 2018 Seafair Parade of Ships off West Seattle

12:34 PM: With the USS Somerset (LPD-25) in the lead, the Seafair Parade of Ships is now in view off Alki. More to come.

1 PM: Now passing Luna/Anchor Park – the USS Momsen (DDG-92) is second in the parade.

1:30 PM: And, it’s on to downtown. Thanks meantime to everyone who’s sending great photos – starting with this view of West Seattle from Christie Brown on board USS Somerset:

Another from Christie:

The view from Gary Jones as the Somerset and Momsen turned east at Alki Point:

Our Twitter video when fireboat Leschi greeted the ships near Luna/Anchor Park (this also includes USCGC Mellon):

ADDED 4:33 PM: Still adding. Thanks to Monica Zaborac for the next two photos:

That’s the Mellon; below, visiting from Canada, HMCS Whitehorse:

And, tweeted by @macjustice, the aerial view:

(Tour info for the US and Canadian Navy ships for the next five days is here.)

SEAFAIR: Blue Angels arrived today; Parade of Ships goes past West Seattle tomorrow

12:58 PM: Thanks to @macjustice for that tweeted photo of the Blue Angels flying past West Seattle shortly before their arrival at Boeing Field this morning. We watched from the west-side viewing area along the runway just south of the tower; they touched down at 11:20 am, having stopped at Glacier Park Airport in Kalispell, Montana on the way here from last weekend’s airshow appearance in Fargo, North Dakota. As usual, they are based at the Museum of Flight (9404 E. Marginal Way S.) during their visit, and that’s where you can watch their pre-flight preps as well as the takeoffs. They have VIP flights and other duties until Thursday, when they go up for two practice sessions, and then full shows Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. As mentioned in our morning traffic report, the I-90 floating bridge will close while they’re up Thursday-Sunday – here are those details.

PARADE OF SHIPS: While Blue Angels-watching from West Seattle is unpredictable, another Seafair/military event is not – tomorrow’s Parade of Ships. While technically it’s billed as something to watch from the downtown waterfront, the ships participating in Seafair Fleet Week tours will sail past West Seattle’s north-facing shores around noon-ish Tuesday. Seafair has yet to answer our inquiry about which U.S. Navy ships are participating, but its website mentions one U.S. Coast Guard cutter and two Canadian Coast Guard vessels. (That same link also has tour times and locations for

1:34 PM: We just talked with US Navy regional public affairs in hopes they could tell us which of their ships will be sailing by tomorrow. They explained that this year for the first time, due to security concerns, they’re not announcing the ships until they’re “a little closer” – possibly not until tomorrow morning.

ADDED 12:22 AM TUESDAY: Now that it’s Tuesday, Seafair is releasing the list of ships participating in today’s seagoing parade, followed by five days of tours:

-U.S. Navy: Guided-missile destroyer USS Momsen (DDG-92) and amphibious transport dock USS Somerset (LPD-25), which was in the parade in 2016

-U.S. Coast Guard: USCGC Mellon

-Royal Canadian Navy: HMCS Yellowknife & HMCS Whitehorse

West Seattle weekend scene: Smoky sunset, with aircraft carrier

Thanks to John Dexter for the photo, which shows two things of note: First, an aircraft carrier heading outbound – we believe it’s the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) – and second, the smoky sunset. The smoke is attributed to fires in B.C. and Siberia (thanks also to @WestSeaWX for noting that).

PHOTOS: Da Grind 2018 outrigger-canoe racing from/to Alki Beach

For a third day, dozens of canoes are in West Seattle waters. This time, it’s for the day of racing hosted by the Seattle Outrigger Canoe Club, “Da Grind.” The long-course (12 miles, around Blake Island and back) racers started at about 10:20 am; half an hour after they’re all back, a shorter race begins.

Some canoe clubs come a long way for the annual event!

Announcers and spectators are on the sand east of the Bathhouse – since the boardwalk is busy with the Alki Art Fair (separate update on that shortly).

The winners will be added to this trophy:

(Not familiar with outrigger canoes? Here’s the SOCC’s background page.) Award ceremonies are expected to happen around 3:30 this afternoon.

HAPPENING NOW: Paddle to Puyallup resumes with canoe families departing Alki, heading south

10:22 AM: That’s the view from Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook along Beach Drive right now as canoe families on the Paddle to Puyallup journey continue leaving Alki after an overnight stop (WSB arrival coverage here), headed for their second-to-last stop, Dash Point. More to come.

10:42 AM: Still more canoes rounding Alki Point, a few at a time, and singing can be heard from shore. We’re off to the beach to see if any canoe families have yet to depart.

11:20 AM: Still a few departing Alki. Adding photos from our time there earlier this morning during preparations for departure:

As listed on the Paddle to Puyallup home page, some participants have come a very long way. Announced during Alki arrivals yesterday was a canoe with paddlers from an indigenous people in Peru.

UPDATE: Tribal Journey 2018 canoes arrive at Alki Beach

1:47 PM: If you’ve seen the Tribal Journeys canoe arrivals at Alki Beach in years past … this year is bigger than ever. As we’ve been previewing, the arrivals started early this afternoon and are continuing as canoe families arrive from last night’s stop across Puget Sound in Suquamish.

More than 100 canoes were registered to participate this year, and they have supporters here too. There’s even an announcer with a PA system, something we don’t recall seeing/hearing in recent years. And we lost count at more than a dozen charter buses parked along Alki Avenue; the paddlers and their support crews will be transported to Auburn, where the Muckleshoot Tribe will host them tonight. (Muckleshoot security remains at Alki to watch over the canoes.)

We’ll be checking later on the expected morning departure time, for those who would like to come observe then.

More photos/updates to come!

2:47 PM: We just walked to the east end of where the canoes are lined up on the sand – they stretch almost to 58th SW – and counted more than 50. None on the horizon so we don’t know how many are yet to arrive. With each arrival so far, an announcement has been read over the loudspeakers, in Native language as well as English, with the declaration of the tribe’s name, where they’ve come from – some have been journeying for two weeks! – and greetings to the Muckleshoot, as well as a request for permission to come ashore.

Also, a military cargo jet seen flying over West Seattle earlier – low enough to startle people – has just done a flyby over the beach here.

5:13 PM: Went back to Alki to check; the arrivals have concluded.

Security says departures are expected between 7 and 9 tomorrow morning.

ADDED EARLY FRIDAY: Alki photographer David Hutchinson asked about that too and he was told they would depart after a ceremony at 7. He shared this evening photo:

Tomorrow’s stop is Dash Point State Park.

FRIDAY MORNING NOTE: The departures are not happening en masse.

Our photographer was there from 8 am until about 9:30 and reports that two canoes had left by then. We’re going back shortly for an update.

Another canoe event headed for Alki: ‘Da Grind’ outrigger races on Saturday

July 26, 2018 9:49 am
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 |   Seen at sea | West Seattle news

(WSB photo, 2017)

While we await today’s Power Paddle to Puyallup arrivals, we’re sharing a reminder of a different canoe event that you’re invited to watch from Alki on Saturday – the Seattle Outrigger Canoe Club‘s annual Da Grind. Thanks to Kelly for sending the announcement:

Canoes and crews from all over the Pacific Northwest will converge on the sands of Alki Beach for the race. The course is from Alki Beach, crossing Puget Sound, around Blake Island and back. 12 miles of grinding paddling, hence the name. Clubs will start loading out and rigging canoes as early as 6:30 AM with racing beginning at 10:00 AM. Come on down to watch the paddlers in action!

Note that Saturday is also the first day of the Alki Art Fair, so it’ll be a big day at the beach.

VIDEO: State’s first-ever Paddle Safe Week previewed in West Seattle waters

July 18, 2018 3:26 pm
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 |   Safety | Seen at sea | West Seattle news

That’s Greg Whittaker of Alki Kayak Tours demonstrating rescue techniques during today’s Paddle Safe Week media-preview event at Seacrest. Also participating in the Washington State Parks-organized event: Seattle Police and U.S. Coast Guard personnel and vessels:

Portraying a paddler in need of rescue was Jim Virgin:

Jim chairs the state park system’s Paddle Advisory Committee. The big message from today’s event, promoting the first-ever Paddle Safe Week, which starts Friday: If you’re headed out paddling, have your life jacket on at all times! Dress for the cold water, NOT for the warmer air temperatures. If you heed a few simple rules like that, you might help reduce the number of rescue calls – hundreds every year – that these responders have to answer:

Even if you THINK you know all the rules – review them here just to be sure, before your next trip out on the water.

WEDNESDAY: Unusual activity you might notice in the Seacrest vicinity

July 16, 2018 9:29 pm
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 |   Safety | Seen at sea | West Seattle news

Especially for the eagle-eyed residents along West Seattle’s north/northeast waterfront, here’s unusual activity you might notice at Seacrest (and vicinity) at midday Wednesday: The U.S. Coast Guard, Seattle Police, Alki Kayak Tours, and other participants will be demonstrating rescues and safe paddling techniques as part of a media event promoting Paddle Safe Week (which starts Friday, July 20th, by proclamation of the governor). This is described in the announcement as “the first statewide public safety campaign focused solely on paddlesport safety … (it) aims to educate the public about laws that apply to paddlecraft users and raise awareness about precautions to take before heading out on Washington’s diverse waterways. The event is set for late morning Wednesday, so in case you notice an unusual presence of public-safety vessels and media crews that day, now you know!

Seen off West Seattle: Bessie, the inflatable floating cow on a barge, is back

10:54 AM: Lots of people asking about the floating cow seen off West Seattle! Thanks to Carolyn for the photo above, and Morgan for the photo below:

That’s Bessie, who – you probably won’t be surprised to hear – belongs to the Washington Dairy Farmers. She’s out moo-ving around local waterways again this weekend.

12:54 PM: Still out there stirring up, as you can see on its base, a “hullabamoo”:

Thanks to Lynn for that photo!

Seen off West Seattle: New state ferry Suquamish, on sea trials

Amy sent the photo, wondering about that state ferry’s eye-catching maneuvers off Alki. id’d it as the Suquamish, which has been under construction at Vigor on Harbor Island – where it was christened in January – so we checked with them. Spokesperson Athena Maris says the Suquamish was out on sea trials, and is expected back out early tomorrow morning, starting around 7 am. It’s expected to join the WSF fleet later this year.

Seen off West Seattle: Destroyer USS Shoup

Thanks to David Hutchinson for the photo of the Everett-based U.S. Navy destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) in Elliott Bay this afternoon. As with many military vessels, it’s not showing on, so we don’t know if it’s still in Seattle, but we did find this, noting that it spent last weekend in Vancouver, B.C.

Seeing red water again? Noctiluca is back along West Seattle shores

July 3, 2018 3:48 pm
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 |   Environment | Seen at sea | West Seattle beaches | West Seattle news

That photo is from the Lincoln Park area, taken by Stani – one of several people who’ve pointed out this afternoon that the red algae bloom known as Noctiluca is back off West Seattle shores today.

We reported on sightings about a month ago too – same time the state Department of Ecology explained it here. It’s non-toxic, as Ecology’s post notes, but it’s not a good thing: “An increase in the abundance of Noctiluca is an indication of an unbalanced system, and while the plankton is not toxic itself, their presence creates a cascade of effects in the marine food web. … While Noctiluca are naturally occurring and blooms have been observed and recorded in Puget Sound since the 1940’s, there is growing concern that human-caused nutrient over-enrichment is increasing the intensity, changing the timing, and increasing the spatial distribution of Noctiluca blooms.”

West Seattle whale-watching: Sightings off Duwamish Head

If you’re out on the West Seattle shore this morning, be on the lookout for at least one whale! Both David and Jim have sent reports of sightings off Duwamish Head in the past two hours. Likely humpbacks, but no photo so we don’t know for sure. The Whale Trail‘s website has a species guide that might be helpful if you see a marine mammal are trying to identify it.

Seen off West Seattle, again: Former ferry Annabelle

Thanks to Gary Jones for the photo of the former Herron Island ferry Annabelle off West Seattle this afternoon. Seems to be an every-four-years tradition – we featured reader photos of the Annabelle in 2014 and in 2010. The newest reference we can find suggests it’s still being used as a houseboat in Tacoma.

VIDEO: Aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis passes West Seattle, homeward bound

June 25, 2018 7:20 pm
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 |   Seen at sea | West Seattle news

Thanks to Kim for the video! A week and a half after WSB readers spotted it outbound off West Seattle, the Bremerton-homeported aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) sailed by again this afternoon, inbound this time. The Stennis’s crew continues to prepare for its next deployment; according to its Twitter feed, its time away included joint flight operations with the U.S. Marine Corps.

Seen off West Seattle: Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise

June 25, 2018 2:04 pm
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 |   Seen at sea | West Seattle news

Thanks to the reader who texted that photo of Arctic Sunrise, off West Seattle right now. The Greenpeace ship has been docked on Lake Union for the past week-plus, with public tours the past two weekends, but is now headed to San Diego – apparently after a loop in Elliott Bay, as it was eastbound past Alki when the photo came in, and is now headed back westbound.


Thanks to Kersti Muul for the tip – humpback whales have been off West Seattle much of the afternoon, and are in Elliott Bay at last report. One Orca Network commenter reports seeing them from the Water Taxi. Not sure how to ID a humpback? Here’s some help from The Whale Trail.

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