Seen at sea 945 results

Seen off West Seattle: USS John C. Stennis, outbound

Thanks to Tom Stoner for the photo. That was the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) headed northbound past West Seattle earlier today. It’s been back at Bremerton a little more than a month after the latest stint at sea getting ready for deployment. After deployment, it’s scheduled to relocate to Norfolk, Virginia, and the carrier USS Carl S. Vinson (CVN 70) will be moved to Bremerton for maintenance.

READER REPORT: Stuck sailboat pulled away from Beach Drive shore

Thanks to Beth for sending the video! She says a rescue operation got the SV Pointless away from Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook on Beach Drive a little while ago. We first mentioned the stuck sailboat on Tuesday; its owners publish Beach Drive Blog and wrote about the situation there.

UPDATE: Another boat in trouble in West Seattle waters

11:48 AM: Thanks for the photo and tips. Another sailboat in trouble on this slightly blustery day – this one has come ashore at Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook on Beach Drive. Seattle Fire has a fireboat and land crew checking it out.

4:19 PM: Several more readers have sent photos of the grounded boat as the day has gone on the one above is from Sarah). Commenters say its owners are aware of the situation.

6:21 PM: The owners are also the publishers of Beach Drive Blog, where they’ve posted more about what happened.

From the ‘in case you wondered too’ file: Camp Long, Beach Drive, Puget Sound sightings

Three sightings of note, in case you wondered too:

CAMP LONG: We received multiple questions late today about a big gathering at Camp Long that has police directing traffic. Hundreds of members of Ethiopian Orthodox churches from around the region are at the park for the annual observance of Meskel (Finding of the True Cross). The city’s Special Events Committee agenda from August notes that this is an annual event that has “grown to require (a) Special Event Permit.” Erika J. Schultz of The Seattle Times photographed the celebration at Camp Long two years ago (scroll down this page).

BEACH DRIVE: Beach Drive Blog noted a sizable turnout of motorcycle riders at Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook this morning. The occasion: The local edition of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, raising money and awareness for men’s health issues.

PUGET SOUND: Thanks to JayDee for this Saturday photo:

That’s the SS Cape Intrepid, a ready-reserve ship long moored in Tacoma, headed out on sea trials, last seen on the tracker as it entered open ocean outside the Strait of Juan de Fuca last night. (JayDee also contributed a photo of this ship almost exactly nine years ago!)

Seen off West Seattle: Schooner Adventuress

Thanks to Jim Borrow for the photo of the historic schooner Adventuress, which caught attention off Alki this afternoon. Adventuress is 105 years old; you can read its history here. It’s been a National Historic Landmark since 1989, and is operated by the educational nonprofit Sound Experience.

Why you’ll want to watch for whales off West Seattle tomorrow

No guarantees, but we might be lucky and get a glimpse of the Southern Resident Killer Whales tomorrow. As night falls, Kersti Muul tips us, resident orcas are southbound just north of Elliott Bay, in the Discovery Park vicinity. As she points out, this is a bit earlier than the usual SRKW fall return. And it comes the day after the second of two public meetings about their plight. If you see orcas tomorrow (or any other time!) please let us know – our 24/7 hotline, text or voice, is 206-293-6302.

Why a polar bear was at Don Armeni Boat Ramp

First a cow … now a polar bear, seen off West Seattle this morning. A texter sent that photo from Don Armeni Boat Ramp. The bear is in the area for this protest across the bay later this afternoon:

A family-friendly vigil happening Saturday, September 15 near the Pier 91 cruise terminal will highlight how human-caused climate change is impacting the health of the world’s oceans, especially the Arctic. The vigil will feature a floating art installation in Elliott Bay of a polar bear perched on a melting iceberg.

The vigil is happening on Arctic sea ice minimum day, the annual day when the sea ice extent is at its lowest. Sea ice minimum — which occurs in mid-September of each year — happens when the ice stops melting and the glaciers begin to accumulate again. The vigil will also draw attention to the role cruise ships play in accelerating the melting ice in the Arctic and contributing to sea level rise by burning heavy fuel oil, the dirtiest fossil fuel available for marine transportation.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center tracks sea ice at A September 4 blog post by NSIDC says this year’s sea ice minimum is expected to be one of the ten lowest in the satellite record.

The event coincides with two other international vigils for Arctic sea ice minimum day, in London and Rotterdam. The event is also part of the region-wide Salish Sea Day of Action.

The vigil is happening by the Magnolia cruise-ship terminal 3-5 pm. (The ship in the background is the new megaliner Norwegian Bliss, docked today at Pier 66 downtown; the port touted its environmentally friendlier features earlier this year.)

Seen off West Seattle: USS John C. Stennis, returning home

7:15 AM: About six weeks after its most-recent departure on a training mission, the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) is on its way back to Bremerton. A texter just sent word that it’s visible passing south Bainbridge Island right now.

8:26 AM: Thanks to Jim Borrow for the photo! Added above. P.S. After 13 years homeported in Bremerton, the Stennis is scheduled to move to Norfolk soon, per this report from shortly after its July departure; the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), meantime, will be moving here.

New sixgill shark mystery, and how you can help Diver Laura sleuth it

“Diver Laura” James needs some research help. She’s looking into recent sixgill-shark strandings around Puget Sound – at least five confirmed in the past few months, she says. One happened recently near Alki Point Lighthouse, but “the tide came in and washed the carcass away before the scientists could get to it.”

What you see above is the remains of a six-gill found stranded in Sequim with a mesh crab-bait bag clearly visible. Laura says they want to check other strandings for something similar.

So if you happen onto a stranded/dead shark, she requests that you get in contact with her. Even better – take a picture and send it with the location. Better still, grab and freeze a tissue sample. She adds, “I’m also very interested in any old carcasses that might be around, as I can still get a DNA sample from them.” Laura is reachable at

P.S. Not familiar with six-gills? Laura points us to this:

Orca updates and harbor-porpoise secrets @ The Whale Trail

September 5, 2018 11:59 am
|    Comments Off on Orca updates and harbor-porpoise secrets @ The Whale Trail
 |   Seen at sea | West Seattle news | Wildlife

(Southern Resident orca, photographed in 2015 by Gary Jones @ Alki Point)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The plight of the dwindling Southern Resident Killer Whale population is in a brighter spotlight than ever, as action to save them is debated.

Local advocate Donna Sandstrom, executive director of The Whale Trail, will provide an update at tonight’s Southwest District Council meeting (6:30 pm at the Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon).

Last night, her organization started a new season of Orca Talks – opening with an update from Sandstrom, who is also a member of the orca task force set up by Governor Inslee, and moving on to a featured guest’s presentation about a more-abundant, and mysterious, cetacean – the harbor porpoise.

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The Whale Trail’s next Orca Talk spotlights harbor porpoises, too

(Photos by Dr. Cindy Elliser)

Next week – it’s a marine-mammal two-fer as The Whale Trail resumes its series of Orca Talks. At 7 pm Tuesday, September 4th, at C & P Coffee Company (5612 California SW; WSB sponsor), here’s what you’ll see and hear:

Harbor porpoises are one of the most abundant animals in the Salish Sea, yet little is known about them. Pacific Mammal Research is dedicated to understanding more about this poorly understood population, using techniques such as photo-ID surveys and passive acoustic technology. Learn more about this shy and elusive species, and the research that is shedding new light on them.

The speaker, Dr. Cindy Elliser, has conducted marine mammal research for over 15 years. She worked with Dr. Denise Herzing and the Wild Dolphin Project studying Atlantic spotted and bottlenose dolphins in the Bahamas for 10 years before moving to the Pacific Northwest in 2014 and founding Pacific Mammal Research to study marine mammals in the Salish Sea. She also is an adjunct biology/chemistry instructor at Skagit Valley College.

Whale Trail founder Donna Sandstrom will also give an update on Governor Jay Inslee’s Orca Recovery Task Force (of which she is a member) and how you can become involved in protecting the Southern Resident orcas.

Admission is a suggested donation of $5 (kids free) – advance tickets are available here.

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

August 3, 2018 8:23 pm
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 |   Seen at sea | West Seattle news

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

July 28, 2018 11:59 am
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 |   Seen at sea | West Seattle news

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
|    Comments Off on Another canoe event headed for Alki: ‘Da Grind’ outrigger races on Saturday
 |   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.