West Seattle, Washington
6:33 PM: The photos are from Kersti Muul, one of the local wildlife advocates who had been tracking the saga of this California sea lion for the past week or so.
The sea lion, nicknamed Dudley, was severely underweight and had several signs of major illness/injury, so the state Department of Fish and Wildlife removed him this morning from the beach at Cove 3.
No veterinarian was available to euthanize the sea lion on the scene, so he had to be taken away. They would have let nature run its course, Kersti says, but he was on a public beach and that posed hazards both for him and for the public.
8:34 PM: Kersti mentioned in correspondence with us that Seal Sitters have been dealing with Dudley, and now we’ve heard from them. David Hutchinson sent this:
Since last Friday, Seal Sitters’ volunteers have been monitoring the location and condition of a lone California Sea Lion at various spots along Harbor Avenue. Nicknamed “Dudley,” this animal did not make the normal migration south this spring, possibly due to health conditions. It soon became apparent that his health was extremely compromised. He recently began hauling out at Cove #3, just north of Marination, which was a potentially dangerous spot for him and for the public. In consultation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and SR3, it was determined that the best course of action would be capture and removal from that location. This morning a crew from WDFW, along with a specialist from NOAA, successfully removed him from Cove #3 and transported him to a WDFW facility in Lakewood. Late this afternoon, we were informed that his health was compromised to the point that euthanasia was required. A necropsy will be performed tomorrow and Seal Sitters will be notified of the results.
We want to take this opportunity to thank Steve Jeffries of WDFW and his staff, along with Jeff Harris of NOAA, for their excellent job with the capture and removal. We greatly appreciate the input and assistance of Casey McClean, Co-Executive Director of SR3, in this difficult case.
Also, Seal Sitters would like to say a special thanks to Greg Whittaker of Alki Kayak Tours and his staff for their patience and cooperation these last few days.
More than 100 canoes representing Pacific Northwest Native tribes/nations (listed here) are registered for this year’s regional Tribal Journey, the Power Paddle to Puyallup. Two days before the official July 28th arrival in the South Sound, canoes will land at Alki Beach for an overnight stay hosted by the Muckleshoot Tribe. The landings map on the journey website shows Thursday, July 26th, as the day for the Alki arrival, and we have confirmed the date with Muckleshoot cultural director Willard Bill Jr., who says they expect to start receiving canoe families at Alki around noon that day. (They will then travel by land to the Muckleshoot Powwow Grounds in Auburn.) Every year a different tribe/nation in the region hosts the celebration at the end of the journey route; here’s what Puyallup Tribal Council chair Bill Sterud has written about this year’s event.
P.S. Some canoes will be trackable via this map.
We’ll forgive you if you take a break from West Seattle Summer Fest for a bit tomorrow and go check out the low-low tide … which will be almost as low as today’s! Thanks for sharing photos – above, by Mark McAndrews, looking toward downtown; below, three photos of wildlife seen at low tide by Erica Sokoloff:
Tomorrow’s lowest tide is at 12:26 pm, -3.5 feet (today’s was -3.6). It’ll be the last local low tide beyond minus 3 feet until June of next year.
The waiting’s the hardest part! But the crowd at Alki Beach this afternoon finally got to greet the Seafair Pirates:
This year, the scalawags’ accomplices at West Seattle-headquartered Global Diving and Salvage had to bring them north from the uncharted waters of Burien, so they appeared from around Alki Point – and then, once they were ashore, it was every landlubber for themselves:
Somehow, the Pirates made their way through the throng to the stage, where County Executive (and lifelong West Seattleite) Dow Constantine welcomed them:
Also onstage, a coronation of sorts for the Pirates’ new Captain Kidd, courtesy of this year’s Seafair King Neptune, Sonny Sixkiller:
(Queen Alcyone – Cupcake Royale founder Jody Hall – was on hand too.) Sonny’s son, Casey Sixkiller, is Chief Operating Officer in the Constantine administration. Offstage, we photographed him, son Will, the executive and wife Shirley Carlson and their daughter Sabrina:
The Pirates, meantime, are sailing into a busy-as-ever summer.
Two weeks from today, they’ll be back in West Seattle for the Grand Parade (11 am, southbound on California from Lander to Edmunds) – and you never know where else you might see them on land or sea!
Alki Beach will be awash in pirate fans tomorrow (Saturday, July 7th) as the Seafair Pirates approach for their annual landing. As usual (as previewed here last month), the occasion calls for an all-day festival, 10 am-5 pm, with vendors, kids’ rides, and music. The stars of the show will be ashore sometime in the early afternoon – last estimate we heard is 1:30ish, but that could change … they’re pirates, after all. You’ll usually hear cannon booms offshore as they get close; eventually they’ll pull up in their landing craft and wade ashore, into the crowd that gathers near Alki Bathhouse (60th SW/Alki SW). Their non-seagoing Moby Duck usually awaits them along the street, but not until their arrival has been followed by photos and pillaging. This is the first big event of the four weeks at the heart of Seafair; the Pirates will be back for the West Seattle Grand Parade two weeks later, but this is the one time you get to see them sail in! (Forecast, by the way, looks perfect.)
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.
— RicKitty (@Rick_Kitty) July 3, 2018
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.”
Another nautical story: We’re now less than two weeks away from the annual Seafair Pirates Landing on Alki Beach – Saturday, July 7th. As with all big events, an official “neighborhood notification” is required, and we’ve received it from event producer Oliver Little:
WHAT: Seattle Seafair Pirate Landing
WHERE: Alki Beach Park
DATE: July 7, 2018
TIME: 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM
WHO: Seattle Seafair Pirates
On 7/7/2018, our organization The Seattle Seafair Pirates will be producing a special event in the Alki Beach neighborhood called The Seattle Seafair Pirate Landing. The Alki Beach Neighborhood has again
been chosen as the location for this event because of the historical significance. We are thrilled to be
guests in your neighborhood and it’s important to us that we are communicating clearly with you, the
• Event hours are from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on July 7, 2018.
• We will be loading in beginning at 7:00 AM on July 7, 2018, and will load out until 6:00 PM on July 7, 2018.
• We will leave your neighborhood as we found it: litter and recycling will be handled by Recology.
• During the event hours, we expect between 1,000-3,000 attendees per day.
• Streets will not be closed nor have limited vehicle and/or pedestrian access.
• We will have amplified sound during the hours of 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM on July 7, 2018.
• Music and other entertainment will be located on the Northwest side of the Alki Beach Bathhouse.
We are working closely with the City of Seattle Special Events Committee to minimize the impacts of the
event. Our goal is to create an enjoyable and positive experience in your neighborhood. If you or any of the surrounding residents and businesses have questions or comments about impacts of this event, please email us at:
Oliver Little, Event Operations – firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Swenson, Chair, City of Seattle Special Events Office – email@example.com
Always the big question, “When will the pirates land?” This year it’s expected to be around 1:30 – could be earlier, though! (Here’s our coverage from last year.)
12:15 PM: Our photo is from Duwamish Head, where low-low tides like today (-3.5 feet about 15 minutes ago, -3.7 at 12:42 pm tomorrow) reveal hints of West Seattle history, like the site of the Luna Park amusement park, destroyed by fire
more than a century ago. If you go exploring, tread lightly!
12:24 PM: From there, we headed to Constellation Park south of Alki Point, one of two locations where you’ll find Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists, until 1:30 pm today. As our photo shows, you’ll also find a lot of people – the almost-summer low-low tides bring out school field trips, too; we’ve seen several buses, even all the way from Issaquah.
The next four days bring a bonus for beachwalkers: Low-low tides of minus 3 feet or lower:
Wednesday, 11:11 am: -3.0
Thursday, 11:55 am: -3.5
Friday, 12:42 pm: -3.7
Saturday, 1:30 pm: -3.4
P.S. Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists will be out too – here’s the schedule.
ORIGINAL REPORT, THURSDAY: Thanks to Jill for the photo. She asked about the red water along the shore south of Fauntleroy. Chances are that it’s the nontoxic algae bloom known as noctiluca, which has shown up time and again over the years – compare that photo to others we’ve published, such as 2014 and 2012. As explained by this state Department of Ecology webpage, noctiluca blooms are nontoxic.
MONDAY UPDATE: Thanks to Kersti Muul for turning up this new Ecology link confirming ongoing algae blooms.
(2014 US Army Corps of Engineers photo of failing seawall)
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the City of Seattle, and Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) are collaborating on the Emma Schmitz seawall repair. Together we are ensuring a successful cost-sharing program to restore shoreline protection at Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook in West Seattle. SPR entered into a Project Partnership Agreement with the Corps for the replacement of the seawall. The Corps is responsible for the design of the seawall, and one of the steps in the design process is to take soil borings to inform the final design. Drill equipment will be on site for several days starting the week of June 4.
Built circa 1927, the 450-foot stretch of seawall supports important City and County infrastructure, including a 54-inch sewer main, various Seattle Public Utilities drainage and wastewater lines, and Beach Drive Southwest road. The seawall is badly deteriorated, with a 30 percent chance of failure in the event of severe storm or tidal conditions. The new seawall will be built approximately 2 feet seaward and 2 feet higher than the existing wall, thus significantly improving the grade of this scenic viewpoint for the enjoyment of park users as well as ensuring long-term stability.
The implementation cost of the recommended plan is estimated to be more than $2 million, and will be cost-shared with 65 percent federal funds and 35 percent non-federal funds. The non-federal sponsor, SPR, is responsible for all lands, easements, right-of-ways, relocations, and/or disposal areas which are controlled by the sponsor.
The Corps is designing the seawall, and SPR will be designing the park amenities on top of the wall area. SPR will be holding a public meeting to provide information and gather input on these park amenities.
On behalf of Seal Sitters, a photo and update from David Hutchinson:
All spaces for the June 9th Seal Sitters’ training have been filled. If you were not able to attend this session, but are still interested in becoming a Seal Sitter, please contact us at SealSitters.Outreach@msn.com and we will notify you when our next training has been scheduled.
We have had a seal on the beach twice this week and “pupping season” in south Puget Sound will be starting soon. Just a reminder, if you see any marine mammal on a West Seattle beach, keep back, keep people and pets away, and please call our Hotline at 206-905-SEAL (7325).
Thanks to Don Brubeck for the photo taken along West Seattle’s west-facing shore during this afternoon’s low-low tide! As we mentioned in the daily highlight list, it was out to 2.5 feet just afternoon. Tomorrow and Friday, even lower – -2.9 feet at 1 pm Thursday and 1:47 pm Friday. If you can’t go out and tidewalk until the weekend, no worries – Saturday’s low tide will still be good for (carefully) exploring, -2.4 feet at 2:38 pm. Next month, the low-low tides get even lower: -3 feet and further, June 13-16. (Here’s our favorite tide chart. We have one – better for short-term consultation – on the WSB West Seattle Weather page, too.)
Thanks to Gary Jones for the photos, which were too sweet to put on hold until, say, tomorrow morning’s highlights. Notice in the top photo that Harbor Seal #1 is just hanging out at low tide off Constellation Park, with somebody peeking from the water to the left … and then deciding to get out and join the basking.
Flagging us to the same scene via Twitter, @1fox2fox noted, “As always, please be respectful to these sentinels of the Sound qnd give them space.” And if they come ashore, give Seal Sitters a call … 206-905-SEAL. P.S. Low-low tides are coming up later this month – lower than -2 feet for four afternoons starting Wednesday, May 16th.
The arrival this past Monday of new, lockable fire rings at Alki Beach Park – replacing all seven of the old ones – raised some questions, and now we’ve received answers from Seattle Parks spokesperson Christina Hirsch:
*Policies for when they’re unlocked and locked? “The exact hours/procedures for locking the lids is being determined with staff. Currently, the lids are unlocked. We will post hours and procedure information on our website in the next couple of weeks once the information has been finalized.”
*Why were the old ones replaced? The closable lid “helps to put out the fire,” Hirsch says, adding “we also ask that folks douse their fire with water.” They hope the lockability “will help prevent fires on off-hours and prevent bonfires during burn bans.” And the previous ones “were old, rusty and beginning to fall apart.”
*How much did the new ones cost? “The new pits were designed and created in-house and are like the pits we installed at Golden Gardens Park. Each pit costs approximately $1,500 (not including delivery and installation).”
Sara sent the photo, saying that “very large” shark washed up on the beach not too far south of the Fauntleroy ferry dock over the weekend. She reported it to the state Fish and Wildlife Department; after sending them the photo, she said, they thought it might be a soupfin shark. Any other guesses?
Thanks to everybody who e-mailed to let us know that new fire rings have arrived at Alki Beach. These photos were taken this morning by Vlad Oustimovitch – here’s a closer look at one of the new rings, notably lockable:
One last look at the old ones:
Alki is one of two city-owned beach parks where fires are allowed, as long as they’re in the rings and following the rules, which you can read here. The other park, Golden Gardens, already has these types of rings, which Parks staff unlocks at 4 pm; we’ll be checking with Parks tomorrow about the official procedures planned for these.
12:51 PM: Another event from our Saturday highlights list is well under way: The Pac-12 North Invitational beach-volleyball tournament at Alki, day 1. It’s umbrellas for spectators, sleeves for players:
We stopped by as UW players took to the sand again at noon, after they two hours earlier “upset 13th-ranked Cal in the first match of the weekend, 3-2.”
Stanford beat Oregon in the 11 am faceoff. Each match is scheduled for all five courts – at 1 pm, it’ll be Oregon vs. California, and at 2 pm, USC vs. Stanford. The Sunday schedule, again starting at 10 am, is here.
ADDED 10:01 PM: Here’s the gohuskies.com recap of the tournament’s first day.
The Seattle Animal Shelter has just reissued its seasonal warning – dogs aren’t allowed on public beaches.
It’s spring in Seattle, which means blossoming and hatching all around us. This is a particularly important time to ensure that immature wildlife have their best opportunity to flourish in the Northwest. To help protect the young wildlife, the Seattle Animal Shelter will be conducting emphasis patrols on all saltwater beaches in the city.
Dogs are not allowed on any of Seattle’s public saltwater beaches, even if they are leashed. This law helps us protect the fragile ecosystem along our shorelines. Marine mammals, such as seal pups that are typically born in April, use the city’s beaches to rest and warm themselves. Shore birds also frequent our beaches. Wildlife that interact with dogs are less likely to reach adulthood.
Uniformed animal service officers will be patrolling city parks with a focus on saltwater beaches and may issue citations to violators.
If you would like to report Seattle beaches where dogs are frequently seen, submit a service request at http://bit.ly/sas-service-request. You can also contact the Seattle Animal Shelter by calling 206-386-PETS (7387).
That’s the same alert SAS sent last spring – though so far this year, we haven’t seen the civilian-installed sign that went up about that same time.
2:52 PM: Apparently just a coincidence, but on the same day that U.S. Coast Guard buoy-tenders showed up in West Seattle waters, this King County-owned buoy has just shown up on shore. The photos are from a reader who spotted it on the beach at Lincoln Park, by Colman Pool (thanks for sending!).
We recognized it immediately from past stories including this one after it was launched in 2013 to monitor marine water quality, and this one from a beaching the following year. We just contacted Diane McElhany at the King County lab, and she confirms it’s theirs, adding, “We will be dealing with it today.”
5:51 PM: And deal with it they did:
Thanks to Mike Mahanay for that photo!
Have you seen a seal lately? Many have, and Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network is busy. Here’s an update from volunteer David Hutchinson:
While Seal Sitters’ “Blubberblog” site has not been updated recently, due to ongoing technical difficulties, our volunteers have been on duty responding to vulnerable young harbor seals hauled out on West Seattle beaches. Our normal busy season (September – November) was slower than usual but 2018 has started off with a flurry of calls to our Hotline (206-905-7325).
One seal, “Uno,” has accounted for the majority of responses this year. After first coming ashore on January 4th near Colman Pool, Uno has decided that the shoreline of Elliott Bay is her preferred location (you can tell it’s the same harbor seal by comparing the spots on the faces). She has become a familiar sight to passersby who frequently ask our volunteers how Uno is doing that day. Monday, volunteers were stretched thin when two additional young seals came ashore at separate locations in West Seattle.
Responses to these live seals is a positive experience compared to the one-week period in January when we had to deal with three near the north end of Lincoln Park that weren’t as fortunate. One was reported as deceased on the raft at that location, and another dead animal was recovered from Lowman Beach. The third arrived onshore with respiratory distress. After being examined by a NOAA consulting vet, that seal was transported to PAWS, where it later died. All three animals will be necropsied by WDFW.
We have received a number of inquiries about becoming a volunteer. These people will be receiving an email notice when a final date is set. As of now, Seal Sitters plans on holding its next training session in the late spring. Look for an announcement at sealsitters.org.
P.S. Bonus underwater seal video! This is from “Diver Laura” James – not Uno, she says, but another harbor seal, and a very curious one at that:
That’s some of her 360-degree-video equipment; she promises to share its video soon.
(WSB file photo)
Love going out on the beach at low tide to explore? Consider doing it this summer as a volunteer beach naturalist helping others learn about our shore and its wildlife. Here’s the announcement from the Seattle Aquarium:
Why do barnacles stand on their heads? What do sea stars like to eat? How do moon snails lay their eggs? Learn to answer these and other fun questions by volunteering as a Seattle Aquarium Beach Naturalist this summer. Naturalists receive training in the spring, and then spend three low-tide days educating beach visitors about inter-tidal life and beach etiquette at one of twelve Puget Sound beaches. Orientation for new naturalists will be held on Tuesday, March 13 at 6:30 PM. If interested, please register here or contact the Seattle Aquarium by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 206-693-6214.
The beaches visited by the volunteers usually include two in West Seattle, at Constellation and Lincoln Parks.