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PHOTOS: Seafair Pirates land at Alki Beach, first time in 3 years

(WSB photos unless otherwise credited)

1:16 PM: Another West Seattle summer tradition returned moments ago at Alki Beach, as the Seafair Pirates landed aboard the Global vessel Prudhoe Bay.

(This photo and next by David Hutchinson)

As previewed here, this year’s landing is a “scaled-down” event – no accompanying all-day festival with vendors and activities, just the Pirates mingling with fans.

More photos later.

8:05 PM: As promised:

Scurvy selfies could be had:

The crowd was (a)vastly less dense than in past years:

Trinkets were offered to some on shore:

The Pirates will be busy with parade season soon too – this year’s returning parades include the West Seattle Grand Parade just four weeks from today, July 23rd, and the Seafair Torchlight Parade a week after that.

PHOTOS: 2022’s lowest tide draws crowds to West Seattle beaches

1:58 PM: Thanks to Tom Trulin for the photo! Just after noon, as we’ve previewed, the low tide was out to the lowest point of the year, -4.3 feet. The photo is from Lincoln Park, one of two places where Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists have been out to educate shore explorers. If you couldn’t get out today for a look, tomorrow just before 1 pm will bring the second-lowest low tide of the year, out to -4.1 feet. (Got a photo to share from today? westseattleblog@gmail.com – thank you!)

4:39 PM: Thanks for the additional photos! The next two are from Bruce Gaumond at Constellation Park:

Also from Constellation Park, this one’s by Bonnie Drexler:

Even more from Constellation Park – the next three are by David Hutchinson:

8:35 PM: Even more photos – first, from Rosalie Miller, a gumboot chiton and decorator crab:

From Denee Bragg, who’s been flagging by the northwest end of Constellation Park and reports “It has been the best “office” I’ve worked at in a long time!”

From Eddie, a view of Luna/Anchor Park:

From David Dimmit:

Photographed by Ashwin Moodithaya, a moon snail:

From Dawn Hepburn at Lowman Beach:

Laura White, at Constellation Park, says, “Delightful to see also how respectful everyone was of the animals.” She sent this photo of a young explorer:

Jerry Simmons noted Bey the bald eagle out on the tideflats, with a crow hassling her:

This one’s from Yazmín Penzien:

Thanks again for all the photos!

EXPLORE THE SHORE: This week brings this year’s lowest low tides to West Seattle beaches

That’s what the beach off Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook was like this morning, shortly after the day’s lowest tide, which was “only” out to -2.0 feet. So imagine how far the water will recede when the year’s lowest tides arrive this week. Here’s what’s ahead:

Monday, June 13 – 10:37 am, -3.2 feet
Tuesday, June 14 – 11:22 am, -4.0 feet
Wednesday, June 15 – 12:09 pm, -4.3 feet
Thursday, June 16 – 12:58 pm, -4.1 feet
Friday, June 17 – 1:48 pm, -3.5 feet
Saturday, June 18 – 2:39 pm, -2.4 feet

After this, your next chance to see the shore at mega-low tide will be in mid-July, when it’ll be out to -4.0 feet on July 13th and 14th. Meantime, Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists will be at Constellation and Lincoln Parks Tuesday through Saturday this week – times vary each day, and are listed here. (And whether or not you go when naturalists are present, their program offers these guidelines for exploring the shore without doing harm.)

WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: Request for you, now that it’s Harbor Seal pupping season

Beach news from Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network:

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 our local beaches.

Remember that it is illegal to have a dog on the beach at any of the Seattle Parks beaches in West Seattle, either off or on a leash.

FOLLOWUP: Lowman Beach project ‘substantially complete’ but still fenced off

Nice afternoon to walk on the beach. You can do that along the entire stretch of Lowman Beach now – but aside from the beach, most of the rest of the park remains fenced off, though the work to remove its seawall and restore its shore is done. It’s been eight months since work started in earnest on the $1.2 million project, which matches the duration estimate Seattle Parks gave at the time. Asked about the project’s status, Parks spokesperson Karen O’Connor told WSB, “The project is substantially complete. The park is partially fenced off to allow lawn to establish. This year we had such a cold spring so it’s taking longer for lawn to establish. We anticipate removing the fence around the turf this summer. The new beach area is currently open to the public. People can access from the street-end access point.” (That’s on the south side of the park and requires clambering over driftwood to get to the water.)

First night for early closing time at Alki Beach

We noticed that Seattle Police car at Alki Beach around 6:30 pm, a few hours before officers are supposed to start helping Parks personnel close the park for the night. This is the first night of a second summer for the 10 pm closing time at Alki (and Golden Gardens); we first reported in March that the city planned to do it again this year. The beach wasn’t too busy when we went through, but the below-60 temperature is likely more responsible for that than anticipation of early park closure. Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Martin Rivera told the Alki Community Council last week that Parks is supposed to cover the cost of two officers assisting at closing time. One more change ahead at Alki: The beach fire rings are supposed to officially open starting tomorrow; fires are supposed to be out by 9:30 pm.

WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: One more look at low-low-tide sights

This past week’s low-low tides are over, but we have a few more wildlife photos to share. The first and last photos are from Marc Milrod; the four below are from Rosalie Miller – first, a Mottled Star:

A Hermit Crab:

A Limpet:

And a Pink Sponge:

Among the birds on the temporarily expanded beach, this Great Blue Heron:

The next stretch of low-low tides (which is the term we use for low tides out past -2 feet) is on the chart for June 12th-18th. (Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists will be at Constellation and Lincoln Parks for five of those days.)

Speed bumps at the beach? Precinct commander talks summer plan and more @ Alki Community Council

(WSB photo, Thursday @ Alki)

One day after Seattle Parks announced the start date for early closings at Alki, the beach’s summer plan was the main discussion topic for the Alki Community Council.

Seattle Police Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Martin Rivera was the only guest at the hybrid meeting, held online plus in-person at Alki UCC.

Capt. Rivera said SPD is working on a contract with Parks regarding the early Alki Beach closure (10 pm starting May 27th). Parks covers the cost of two officers to assist at closing time, he said, and SPD provides an additional four officers for an emphasis patrol in the area “when staffing allows.” Starting this week, Alki and other West Seattle “hot spots” will see the extra patrols Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, possibly also Sundays.

What about traffic enforcement on Alki/Harbor Avenues? Capt. Rivera said SPD and SDOT have been talking about ways to deter speeding and racing via road design, primarily the possible addition of speed bumps. He said so far it’s just a matter of funding – he likes the idea of raised crosswalks but says those are estimated at around $80,000, about eight times the cost of a speed bump. Asked about the potential location, Capt. Rivera suggested “each end” of Alki; data collection was planned to further shape a plan, and he suggested contacting Crime Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Danner if you want to be involved. Could private money be raised to fund speed bumps? one attendee asked. Capt. Rivera wasn’t sure. They’re also in talks regarding the angle-parking area and how that can be reconfigured to minimize problems. “Maybe it needs to go back to lateral parking,” he mused. (Aside: In a discussion of Alki as a regional draw despite the bridge closure, he said he heard “end of July the bridge might be open again.”) Other road issue: Regarding the Alki Point “Keep Moving Street” status, he said they’re just “waiting for the mayor to say yes” to making it permanent. (Later a community member who’s been advocating for permanence mentioned a recent meeting with a mayoral rep.) Someone asked about Parking Enforcement; Capt. Rivera reminded attendees that those officers now work for SDOT. Bike officers? No bike officers, no Community Police Team, “we just have 911 (responding) officers,” he said.

That led into a brief discussion of police staffing: “Every shift is missing five or six bodies,” Rivera said. For those keeping track of personnel, acting Lt. Dave Terry, who had attended many West Seattle community meetings as a shift supervisor, has been promoted to the SPD Audits section. The precinct is now missing 1st and 3rd Watch lieutenants – Lt. Terry had been 3rd, and the 1st watch lieutenant has now been moved to the citywide intradepartmental group dealing with homelessness. He also said the precinct had added three new officers recently but also lost three, so is currently about 15 people below where staffing should be.

The ACC had hoped to have a guest from Seattle Parks but they were a no-show. One more note – Parks is running a survey about the early closing time at Alki (and Golden Gardens) – here’s the link.

NEXT MEETING: Third Thursdays at 7 pm most months – so the next one will be June 16th.

PHOTOS: See more of what low-low tides revealed along West Seattle’s shore

Tomorrow is the final day this month with a low-low tide beyond -3 feet, expanding the walkable stretches of West Seattle’s shores. Tonight we have more photos to share – above, from Jerry Simmons; below, from Theresa Arbow-O’Connor:

And Rosalie Miller shared more photos of the wildlife on view – in order below are an Orange Sea Cucumber,
Dorid Nudibranch, Purple Star and Painted Anemone, and a close-up of the star:

If you remember the Sea Star die-off last decade, it’s heartening to see them. Michael Ostrogorsky included this photo from beneath the Fauntleroy ferry dock in the comment section following our previous coverage:

Thursday’s low-low tide is -3.4 feet at 2:02 pm.

FOLLOWUP: Start date set for this year’s early closings at Alki Beach

Two months ago, we reported that Seattle Parks planned to again close Alki Beach Park at 10 pm this summer. At the time, though, they hadn’t set the start date. Now they have: Friday, May 27th, as Memorial Day weekend begins, hours at Alki (and Golden Gardens) will be 4 am-10 pm rather than 4 am-11:30 pm. The earlier closing time will continue through Sunday, September 4th. Though this is the second summer for the earlier closing time – last year it started in July, after a deadly shooting – Parks is still describing it as a “pilot,” and saying it’ll be reviewed once it’s over. The announcement also says SPD will assist Parks in closing the beach starting at 9:30 pm. As you’ve probably noticed on those illuminated mobile signs placed recently along Harbor and Alki Avenues, beach-fire season also will begin on Memorial Day weekend, with the fire pits to be open for use starting May 28th.

P.S. Parks and police are both on the agenda for tomorrow night’s Alki Community Council meeting (7 pm online or in-person at Alki UCC), if you have questions and/or comments about summer plans.

WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: Seen at low-low tide

As mentioned here earlier, this week brings low-low tides to West Seattle beaches. Tonight we have three photos from Rosalie Miller, whose photos of tiny plants we’ve featured previously. Above, a Lined Chiton; below, an Opalescent Nudibranch:

And here’s an Anemone:

“Gorgeous day at the beach,” Rosalie reports.

WEST SEATTLE BEACHES: Low-low tides this week

If you enjoy exploring the beach at low tide, this is your week. The chart shows low-low tides through Friday. Today at 11:44 am, it’ll be out to -2.9 feet; Tuesday at 12:27 pm, -3.5 feet; Wednesday at 1:13 pm, -3.7 feet; Thursday at 2:03 pm, -3.4 feet; and Friday at 2:56 pm, -2.6 feet. The Seattle Aquarium‘s volunteer beach naturalists don’t start their seasonal schedule for a few more weeks, so you’ll have to explore on your own, but please remember to tread lightly, as the low-low tides expose animals and plants that spend most of the year underwater. You can also appreciate the revealed shoreline by observing from overlooks/sidewalks/trails including Duwamish Head, Constellation Park, Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook, and Lincoln Park. If you can’t get out this week (or if the weather gets in the way, which it might on Wednesday), next month will bring even-lower low tides – three days at or below -4.0, starting June 14th.

FOLLOWUP: Here’s how the Seal Sitters/SR3 Alki cleanup turned out

Many hardy, good-hearted volunteers are showing up for community cleanups – and tonight we have a followup on one of the bigger recent events, The photos and report were sent to us today by organizers of the Alki cleanup led by SR3 and Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network:

On Friday, April 15, more than 100 volunteers joined Seal Sitters and SR3 for an early Earth Day celebration on the 1-year anniversary of the SR3 Marine Wildlife Hospital. Staff from the Seattle Seahawks, Delta Airlines and Forum Social House,came out to help gather over 90 pounds of trash that might otherwise have ended up in the ocean.

Supplies for the pickup were provided by Seattle Parks & Recreation and Puget SoundKeeper Alliance. Seattle Seahawk DeShawn Shead awarded SR3 Executive Director Casey Mclean the Delta Community Captain award to recognize the great work SR3 does for our community.

To learn more about SR3 or get involved, go to sealifer3.org. To learn more about Seal Sitters or get involved go to sealsitters.org.

More opportunities to join in a community cleanup are coming up – watch for our next story!

READER REPORT: Tiny wildlife surprise at Alki Beach

April 24, 2022 4:06 pm
|    Comments Off on READER REPORT: Tiny wildlife surprise at Alki Beach
 |   West Seattle beaches | West Seattle news | Wildlife

(Photos by Jon McAllister)

The photos show Terri McAllister‘s surprise discovery at Alki. You have to look very closely to see what they really are! Terri emailed us to report:

Just a tip to wear shoes at the beach in spring. At Alki beach this morning, by the bathhouse, we came across some crab zoea. Tiny little spiny buggers managed to get our bare feet and hands whenever we touched the sand. It feels like glass or an itchy pinch. A bunch stuck to our beach blanket and we got some rad photos with a magnifying glass.

No wildlife authorities are available for us to consult today for further enlightenment on this sighting – but it’s an extra reminder to tread lightly on the shore!

FOLLOWUP: See how Lowman Beach is taking shape post-seawall

2:20 PM: Thanks to Mike Munson for another progress-report photo from the Lowman Beach Park project – this time, a full view of the shore with the crumbling section of seawall removed. Mike reports, “Looks like the Lowman Beach Park project is close to finished. A natural beach has returned where the old sea wall was, the pile of stored logs has been spread out over the beach, and two small concrete slab have been poured above the beach. They are for benches, said the man removing the concrete forms there today.” We last checked on the project a month ago, as nighttime work wrapped up, and are checking again with Parks now to see if they have an estimated completion date.

3:11 PM: Project manager Janice Liang tells WSB, “The project is at near completion, as we have already completed key millstones on beach grading, Pelly Creek and seawall installation. We are now wrapping up the project with landscape and restoration work including irrigation, seeding, planting, and fencing at the north property line. Due to lead time on fencing fabrication, anticipated park opening in late May.”

YOU CAN HELP: Clean up Alki Beach with Seal Sitters and SR3

Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network and SR3 are planning a major beach cleanup for Friday, April 15th – open to everyone, since it’s spring-break week for many students. Here’s the announcement:

Volunteers needed! SR3 (Seattle Response + Rehab + Research) and Seal Sitters are hosting a cleanup of Alki Beach at 10:00 am on Friday, April 15, in honor of Earth Day and to celebrate the first anniversary of the SR3 Marine Wildlife Hospital, the SeaLife Rescue Center. Show your love for all of the creatures that depend upon our beaches & learn about the important work being done by SR3 & Seal Sitters.

Please dress for Seattle spring weather and bring appropriate footwear (waterproof is recommended.) In consideration of the environmental impact of single-use bottles, water will not be provided, so please bring whatever water and refreshments you’ll need.

Equipment (gloves, hand sanitizer, bags, buckets, grabbers) will be available, but please bring your own if you have them! Please RSVP here. Meet at Statue of Liberty Plaza, Alki Ave SW at 61st Ave SW.

All ages welcome!

Beachfront street-end parklet to be expanded as part of pump-station project in south West Seattle

That’s what the beachfront SW 98th street end south of Brace Point [map] is supposed to look like after Seattle Public Utilities finishes a pump-station upgrade that’s expected to go into construction next year. SPU is circulating word to the neighborhood that the project is now at 90 percent design; it’s a popular spot for sea-life watchers, so it’s of wider interest. The SPU facility there is officially Pump Station 71, and it’s part of the system that pumps sewage and stormwater to treatment plants further north. Along with upgrades to the pump station’s functionality, SPU says:

As part of this effort, we’ll be making some improvements to the shoreline street end as well. Some of the improvements include:

• Removing the guardrail and extending the useable street end 20+ feet to the east.
• Replacing the current bench as well as creating a pad for wheelchair access.
• Installing beach logs and adding native plants and new trees to enhance the natural area in the street end.

Construction will last at least six months and “could start as early as spring 2023,” SPU says.

ALKI BEACH: Earlier closing time planned again this year

Alki Beach is quiet today. But now that it’s spring, the busy season isn’t far off. A discussion at last week’s Alki Community Council meeting touched on perennial summer concerns, some of which were addressed last year by closing the park earlier, so we asked Seattle Parks whether that’s planned again this year. Spokesperson Rachel Schulkin says yes, they’re planning a 10 pm closing time this summer too. The exact launch date hasn’t been determined yet – sometime in May – nor have the implementation details. (Seattle Police have already said they’re planning emphasis patrols at the beach again this year.) Last year the early closing time was put in place in early July, days after a deadly shooting, and continued until mid-September.

FOLLOWUP: More Lowman Beach shore-restoration progress

Thanks to Mike Munson for the latest look at progress on the Lowman Beach Park shore-restoration project. What you’re seeing above is the small section of seawall that’s been replaced rather than removed at the north edge of the park. Today was the scheduled end of the latest extension of the timeframe for nighttime work, so we asked Seattle Parks for a status report. Here’s the response from spokesperson Karen O’Connor:

Today was the last date for night work with the Noise Variance Permit. The contractor (was expected to) work until 7 PM at the latest and there will not be an extension of the night work Noise Variance Permit. We have the in-water work window extended to 2/28, Monday of next week. This allows the contractor to work below high water line. All the work will be done during the daytime.

In terms of project update, the contractor has completed the seawall installation. Some beach grading will need to be completed this week to backfill around the seawall. The Contractor is on track of completing in-water work before the 2/28 deadline. They will finish the Pelly Creek section early next week, which is above high tide line, and lawn restoration and landscape will occur in the coming weeks.

When complete, the project will have removed the old crumbling seawall and restored that section of the shore, as was done years ago with the south shore of the park. The old tennis court has been removed and will not be replaced; while Seattle Parks has said it would consider the idea of a smaller sport court, such as pickleball, elsewhere in the park, it would have to be community-funded, and no campaign for that has surfaced so far.

FOLLOWUP: In-water, nighttime work at Lowman Beach shore-restoration project will last longer than expected

A texter sent that photo a few days ago and wondered if the Lowman Beach Park shore-restoration work was really going to meet its deadline for completing in-water work. The answer – no – arrived in this update from Seattle Parks:

In January, Seattle Parks and Recreation and McClung Construction completed preparation and shoring for the seawall installation for the Lowman Beach Park seawall and beach restoration project in West Seattle. Unfortunately, one of the seawall precast panels was the wrong dimension and was unable to be installed. The team has been working around the clock to refabricate and recast this one panel segment. Once the new panel is delivered to the site, the contractor will resume installation of all panels starting on February 9, 2022, and be completed by February 23. This work must be performed at night to take advantage of the low tides.

The original permit for in-water work expired on February 15, however, we were granted a maximum two week extension by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and must have work completed by February 28.

Two work windows at low tides still needed to complete:

Resume installing the precast wall panels – This is expected to take another three to four nights of work.

Completion of Pelly Creek – This is expected to take another two or three nights of work. We were previously planning to complete this on the week of February 7-11 during normal working hours, however, it can only be completed after the seawall panels are installed. To meet the February 28 deadline for beach grading the contractor may need to work extended hours.

The contractor has obtained another Temporary Noise Variance Permit (6881011-NV) issued by Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI). The permit states work can occur between 7 PM and 7 AM starting Wednesday, February 09, 2022 at 7 PM and stopping no later than Wednesday, February 23 at 7 AM.

Although the permit allows for 14 nights of work, the contractor expects to work a maximum of eight nighttime shifts. The contractor will do what is feasible to mitigate the inconvenience by keeping the noise levels down as much as possible, disabling backup alarms, and avoiding high-impact work.

Thank you to the neighbors for their patience and cooperation during the Lowman Beach Park seawall and beach restoration project.

Start your weekend on Alki Beach!

February 4, 2022 7:12 pm
|    Comments Off on Start your weekend on Alki Beach!
 |   Environment | How to help | West Seattle beaches | West Seattle news

The CleanUpSEA coalition has an invitation for you, to start what’s expected to be a rainless weekend:

Join Jess at her monthly 10 am cleanup from Alki Beach to Constellation Park, and neighboring streets in between — the first Saturday of every month!

We’ll meet outside 2452 Alki Ave SW (brick apartment building across from new bathrooms on the beach) and spread out from there. We have pickup sticks & buckets you can use, or bring your own.

Friendly doggies and supervised children of all ages are welcome. Please, no dogs on the beach. Dress for the weather and bring gloves if you’d like your hands covered.

Early Riser? Meet Erik & Garet at 7 am every Saturday to clean up starting at the Statue of Liberty.

No RSVP needed – just show up!

Why SFD is at Constellation Park

February 1, 2022 3:40 pm
|    Comments Off on Why SFD is at Constellation Park
 |   West Seattle beaches | West Seattle news

Suddenly getting a flurry of questions about a big Seattle Fire presence at Constellation Park south of Alki Point. Thanks to the texter who sent these photos.

They report the crews there told them it was a drill – which is what we suspected since there’s nothing on the real-time incident log – and we’ve just confirmed that with SFD spokesperson Kristin Tinsley – diving drill, to be specific.

NEXT WEEKEND: Nighttime low-tide beach walk at Constellation Park

January 23, 2022 6:52 pm
|    Comments Off on NEXT WEEKEND: Nighttime low-tide beach walk at Constellation Park
 |   West Seattle beaches | West Seattle news | Wildlife

(December photo by James Tilley)

They did it in December, and Seattle Aquarium volunteer beach naturalists are returning for another nighttime low-tide beach walk at Constellation Park south of Alki Point. They’ll be at the beach next Saturday (January 29th), 7-9 pm. The tide won’t be out quite as far it was during the December beach walk, but far enough for (careful) exploration: -2.4 feet at 8:39 pm. No need to pre-register – just show up.