West Seattle, Washington
Tonight’s online briefing regarding West Seattle park projects was newsworthy in several regards, so we’re breaking our coverage into three parts. First, news on a topic that wasn’t even mentioned in the announcement previewing the meeting – a plan to permanently change the Alki Beach Park (and Golden Gardens) closing time in the peak season.
Most recently, the seasonal hours have been in effect Memorial Day through Labor Day, so among other things, this would stretch them a few more weeks. Deputy Superintendent Andy Sheffler noted that this would “align with the beach fire program.” He also noted – in a key point that the Zoom screen partly cut off – the Board of Park Commissioners will have a hearing on this in two weeks.
The agenda for the December 14 meeting isn’t posted yet, but will appear here when ready. Meantime, our other two reports on tonight’s meeting (pickleball, and everything else) are on the way.
We looked into both of these Alki observations after reader photos/tips:
RESTORATION: Christopher sent that photo of a section on the beach near the volleyball courts, “wondering what exactly is being restored here and why.” According to Seattle Parks, “This area is one of the last remnants of the native dune ecosystem at Alki Beach. We are working to protect this area during the high season when there is a lot of foot traffic.”
PALM GONE: We also asked Parks about what Kathy spotted, sending the photo above – the disappearance of the 59th/Alki palm tree that briefly gained regional fame after we published a reader report last March. Parks says it was removed because “it was dying.”
Summer’s encore is just in time for fall beach volleyball – and this weekend, the University of Washington team is hosting a season-opening tournament at Alki. Arizona, Oregon, Utah, and Boise State are visiting for the two-part, two-day tournament, with play starting at 9 am both days. The UW preview explains that the matches will actually comprise two tournaments, with two champions. This is the only home match of the Huskies’ season. Not the first time they’ve played on Alki, though – they’ve played here multiple times dating back to 2016.
With the weekend in view, a reminder – Alki Beach’s fire rings have been picked up and taken away because beach-fire season ended on Labor Day. (Thanks to Guy for the nudge to remind you.)
That’s the first live seal pup of the season reported to Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network – a season that normally begins in June. The report and photo are from Seal Sitters’ David Hutchinson:
Just a reminder to your readers that we are still in harbor seal pupping season, which in our part of Puget Sound typically runs from June – September. The 2023 season has gotten off to an unusually slow start on our West Seattle beaches. Yesterday, Seal Sitters had our first response to a live pup on a local beach. Volunteers watched over this vulnerable young seal from mid-afternoon until dark. These animals are protected by federal law and if you come across one onshore, we ask that you keep back, keep people and pets away, and call the Seal Sitters’ hotline at 206-905-7325. Operators are on duty 7 days a week from 8 AM – 8 PM. If you call outside of those hours, please leave a message including the type of animal and its location.
Resting on a beach is normal behavior for harbor seals but the young pups haven’t learned to be discriminating about where they do this. You may encounter them on any of West Seattle’s public or private beaches. It’s particularly important that dogs are not allowed to run off leash on our beaches. While harbor seals are quick and graceful in the water, they are pretty slow while moving on land and would have trouble escaping from a curious dog. Even a small injury can quickly become infected and could be fatal for pups with developing immune systems.
Please note that the accompanying photo was taken with a telephoto lens from behind the tape perimeter. These photos are taken to provide a closer look at the animal to see if there are any external wounds or other signs of poor health and for ID purposes.
Thank you for sharing the shore with our marine wildlife neighbors!
If you like exploring the beach, you should know that the next four days bring this year’s last round of daytime low-low tides, not as low as earlier this month but low enough for significant wildlife-watching. Fall and winter low-low tides are at night. So here’s what’s ahead for the next four days:
Monday, 9:10 am: -1.9L
Tuesday, 10:03 am: -2.3L
Wednesday, 10:52 am: -2.4L
Thursday, 11:39 am: -1.9L
Right next to Constellation Park/Charles Richey Viewpoint is a bit of public land that’s actually separate – known as Shoreline Street End #7, technically the end of SW Spokane Street. Volunteers are invited to join in restoration work there this Saturday morning – here’s the invitation:
A community effort supported by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Friends of Street Ends to restore approximately 11,000 square feet of right-of-way for shoreline access, views, and habitat: The project is located at Shoreline Street End #7, SW Spokane St, in West Seattle (3555R Beach Dr SW). The site is one of 141 Shoreline Street Ends designated by Seattle City Council.
• Improve and maintain shoreline access and views
• Enhance shoreline habitat
• Build partnerships and encourage stewardship through community partners
Work party will focus on removing invasive plants, spreading mulch, installing new plantings
Work Party Dates
August 12th, 2023 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Spokane St SW
To RSVP for Work Part!es:
206-615-1668 | TreeAmbassador@seattle.gov
Three West Seattle scenes from August’s first Friday:
Above, James Bratsanos captured the colors of tonight’s sunset. … Below is Steve Pumphrey‘s photo of salmon seekers lined up along the north side of Point Williams at Lincoln Park:
And below, an image from today’s Blue Angels flight – Rainer Klett photographed a Space Needle flyby from Alki:
Saturday’s forecast has some clouds – maybe even a chance of an afternoon shower.
While the canoe families who arrived at Alki on the Journey to Muckleshoot have moved on to the host tribe’s community center for a week of around-the-clock protocol, most if not all of the canoes are heading home. Alki photographer David Hutchinson sent these three images, reporting, “When I checked around 11:30 AM today, there were still 34 tribal canoes on Alki Beach. They were in the process of leaving, with some being carried down the beach to the water and others being loaded onto boat trailers along Alki Ave.”
As reported here last Sunday, the first Canoe Journey since pre-pandemic will see dozens of Indigenous canoe families landing at Alki Beach tomorrow. This year, the Muckleshoot Tribe is hosting the weeklong gathering that will follow the landing. Some have asked us today what time the ~100 canoe families are expected to start arriving. The only time we’ve seen is 11 am; we note on the Paddle to Muckleshoot website that they’re planning a YouTube live stream during the landing, with the feed scheduled to go live starting at 10:30 am. The canoe families are being hosted by the Suquamish Tribe (in North Kitsap) tonight, after arriving there Friday, and will paddle to Alki from there; the schedule on the Suquamish website says they’re expecting the canoe families to depart at 9:30 am and land at Alki around noon. As for what happens once they’re here, this story from the Muckleshoot newspaper explains that shuttle buses will take them to the host tribe’s community center in Auburn, where a week of protocol – cultural sharing – will follow, starting Monday morning. Many of the participating canae families are listed here. This year’s Canoe Journey theme is “Honoring Our Warriors Past & Present.” It’s the first time the Muckleshoot Tribe has hosted in more than 15 years, though they’ve hosted the Alki stop on other Canoe Journeys since then.
We reported yesterday on the plan for next Sunday’s Alki arrival of dozens of Indigenous canoe families during the Paddle to Muckleshoot, first tribal Canoe Journey since pre-pandemic. One day earlier – next Saturday (July 29th) – a different canoe event will take over Alki: The Seattle Outrigger Canoe Club-hosted annual Da Grind races. Canoe clubs come from around the region to participate in a day of racing that is scheduled to start around 9 am Saturday and wrap up in time for a 3:30-ish awards ceremony.
That was the scene at Alki Beach in July 2019, the last year that tribes from around the region participated in a Canoe Journey. This year, the tradition has resumed, and the journey is ending on West Seattle shores because the Muckleshoot Tribe is this year’s host tribe. Canoe families are scheduled to arrive at Alki one week from today (Sunday, July 30th), according to the Paddle to Muckleshoot website. Participants will proceed from here by land to the Muckleshoot Community Center for a weeklong event. The Muckleshoot has a canoe family participating as well, with their journey starting today, as noted here. In all, 60 canoe families – including the Duwamish – are listed as participating.
We may not have year-round royals like Charles, Camilla, and company, but Seattle does have royalty once a year … during Seafair. This year’s King Neptune, radio personality Bender, tried to defend Alki Beach from the Seafair Pirates this afternoon … but somehow, as happens every year, they managed to storm the beach anyway. At about 1:10 pm, in a haze of cannon smoke, they arrived at Alki aboard the Global vessel Prudhoe Bay:
The Pirates disembarked near Alki Bathhouse, with hundreds there to watch – and snap photos:
After coming ashore, they were found to be bearing gifts – not plundered treasure, but instead, stickers for kids:
The Pirates made their way through the curious crowd, up to where their land-going vessel Moby Duck awaited, as did a ceremony in which they seized – OK, were presented – the key to the county/city, held by County Executive (and lifelong West Seattleite) Dow Constantine:
Other royalty participating in the ceremony included Miss Seafair, Savannah Parker, who took a moment to pose with King Neptune:
As for the Pirates, it was eventually “all aboard” the Moby Duck, which they’ll sail back into West Seattle two weeks from today for the WS Grand Parade.
The parade’s at 11 am Saturday, July 22, starting from California/Lander in The Admiral District and heading southbound on California to The Junction, preceded by the Float Dodger 5K at 9:30 am.
West Seattle’s next big summer event will bring a crowd to Alki Beach on Saturday (July 8th) for the Seafair Pirates’ Landing. We’ve checked with a spokespirate to get details. Like last year – unlike pre-pandemic years – this will be “just” a landing, not a daylong festival. They’re aiming to arrive around 1 pm, but we’re warned it could be a little earlier, or later. As usual, you’ll hear offshore cannon fire as they approach. On the beach, look for the taped-off area by Alki Bathhouse for the path they’re expected to follow on arrival. On the street, you’ll see their legendary parade boat, the Moby Duck; their spokespirate says they’re also planning to visit Christo’s on Alki, El Chupacabra, and the Benbow Room while in West Seattle.
P.S. Two weeks after the landing, you are invited to breakfast with the Pirates at Brookdale Admiral Heights – 8:30 am Saturday, July 22nd, before the West Seattle Grand Parade – details in our calendar listing.
Thanks to Rosalie Miller for sharing four wildlife views from today’s low-low tide. Above, a Blood Star. Below, a Graceful Decorator Crab:
Next, a Lined Chiton:
And a Stiff-footed Sea Cucumber:
Rosalie says she saw them all on Alki today. Tomorrow (Thursday) you have one more chance at a low-low tide, out to -3.0 feet at about quarter till 2 pm; Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists will be out again too.
As noted here two days ago, another stretch of low-low tides has begun. Misti was out during today’s low-low tide and shares the amazing video you can see above – describing it as “My mic drop achievement, catching a nudibranch fight on a video. Think mama was protecting her eggs, which are the cluster of white spots you see.” Misti saw these near the Fauntleroy ferry dock, and shared other low-tide wildlife images on Twitter, which has had some turmoil today, so apologies if you can’t see it – here’s another eye-catching image, identified by Misti as a sea pen:
Tomorrow’s low-low tide is -3.2 feet at 10:38 am; Seattle Aquarium beach naturalists will be out too (see when and where here).
If you’re staying home for the extended holiday weekend, you might factor beach walks into your staycation. The next round of low-low tides is almost here. Saturday through Thursday will be prime dates for beach exploration. On Saturday, the tide will be out to -2.4 feet at 9:54 am; on Sunday, -3.2 feet at 10:38 am; on Monday, -3.8 feet at 11:24 am; on Tuesday (the Fourth of July), -4.0 feet at 12:11 pm (this summer’s lowest low tide); on Wednesday, -3.8 feet at 12:59 pm; and next Thursday (July 6th), -3.0 feet at 1:48 pm. Here’s the full chart. If you want expert guidance, Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists will be at Constellation Park (63rd/Beach Drive) and Lincoln Park (8011 Fauntleroy Way SW) Sunday through Thursday – see the schedule here.
3:58 PM: A reader suggested a reminder is in order that a swimming advisory is still in effect for the beach at Lincoln Park. We first reported last Friday that health authorities were warning of elevated bacteria levels and advising people to avoid contact with the water there. You can check its status via this map.
7:10 PM: As a commenter notes, Lincoln Park’s status has vanished from the state’s infomap in the hours since we published this. It has not been replaced by an “all clear” type of symbol, so we can’t assume that this means it’s OK now. We will check with state and county health/environmental authorities in the morning.
While the pools at Lincoln Park are about to open, you’re going to want to stay out of the water at the beach until further notice. Seattle Parks notes that county and state agencies advise avoiding contact with the water at Lincoln Park because of elevated bacteria levels. This isn’t a beach closure but rather an advisory.
If you’re headed to the beach for today’s low tide, or any other time soon, be extra-watchful – harbor-seal pupping season is starting. Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network has this reminder:
Pupping season in our part of Puget Sound runs from June – September. Over the next months, beach walkers in West Seattle will very likely come across vulnerable Harbor Seal pups on both our public and private beaches. These young marine mammals are protected by federal law. If you come across a seal pup using the beach, please keep back, keep people and pets away, and call the Seal Sitters’ Hotline at 206-905-7325.
Seal Sitters is part of NOAA’s West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Our territory is West Seattle, from Brace Point through the Duwamish River including Harbor Island and the East Waterway. We are responsible for responding to all marine mammals, alive or dead, that end up on the beaches within that area. (The official NOAA stranding map, which shows the coverage areas and the contact information for the various groups that respond to marine mammals on the beaches of Puget Sound, is viewable at this link – click on “Network Maps.”)
If you can, add Seal Sitters’ hotline to your phone – if you don’t, it’s easy to remember: 206-905-SEAL.
7:13 PM: The remains of old pilings are part of what comes into view when low-low tides arrive on local shores. The photo above is from Theresa Arbow-O’Connor. Today’s low-low tide was out to 3.3 feet; Brandy DeWeese also sent photos, showing some of the sealife revealed by the receded tide under and near the Fauntleroy ferry dock:
The low-low tide will be out even further the next two days – -3.7 feet both days, at 12:26 pm Monday, and at 1:13 pm Tuesday. Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists will be out both days too – 10:30 am-2:30 pm Monday, 11 am-3 pm Tuesday, at Constellation Park (63rd/Beach Drive) and Lincoln Park (8011 Fauntleroy Way SW) both days.
ADDED 9:22 PM: Curry Gibson sent this pic of kelp crabs:
ADDED 11:45 PM: Thanks to SF for this montage:
Two West Seattle shore sights to mention:
NEW BROWNISH BLOOM: A week ago, the reddish-orange Noctiluca bloom startled water-watchers along the West Seattle shore. Today, we got questions about a brownish-green bloom, and this photo from Manuel:
Yes, it looks like a spill. But it’s not, as explained here. Biologists say these blooms are largely nontoxic – but swallowing or inhaling them isn’t recommended.
LOW-LOW TIDE: The next round of low-low tides is on the way. Saturday at 11:02 am, it’ll be out to -2.6 feet, and then for the next four days, the lowest tides will be out past -3 feet – here’s the chart. If you head out on the beach and tread lightly, you might see sights like the ones Rosalie Miller photographed during the last round of low-low tides:
That’s an urchin with a painted anemone and sea star. If you want help identifying what you’re seeing, Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists will be out at Constellation Park (63rd/Beach) and Lincoln Park (8011 Fauntleroy Way SW) during the lowest tides the next five days, starting with 9:30 am-12:30 pm tomorrow – see the full schedule here.
Thanks to David Hutchinson for the photo. Seattle Parks is bringing fire rings back to Alki Beach today, just before the official start of summer season. Saturday is the first day fires will be allowed, according to Parks’ recent early-closure announcement. (For a recap of beach-fire rules, go here.)