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Lowman Beach Park’s future without tennis court or seawall: City sets February 28th meeting

(WSB photo: Tennis-court-less, sea-wall-less possibility shown at 2017 meeting)

The city says it has a preliminary design for Lowman Beach Park‘s future, minus the failed seawall – and it will mean removal of the park’s tennis court. The design will be shown at a community meeting just announced for February 28th. The announcement from Seattle Parks today:

The Lowman Beach Park seawall is failing and needs to be removed. As visitors to the park have seen, the existing seawall is slowly falling over/sliding toward the water. It is Seattle Parks and Recreation’s goal to remove the remaining seawall and continue the shoreline restoration work that began when the south half of the seawall failed in the mid 1990s.

In May 2017, together with our design consultant Environmental Science Associates (ESA), we presented design options. We hired ESA as a design consultant in 2018 to continue the design process that began with the feasibility study, listed below. The design will take into consideration both the habitat benefits of the seawall removal and the coastal engineering ramifications of that seawall removal. Given the design constraints of the project, the existing tennis court will be removed. A remnant of Pelly Creek that currently flows under the seawall will be daylighted as part of the project.

The last community meeting was May 31, 2017; here’s our coverage. Documents from that meeting, and a feasibility study made public in December 2017 (covered here the following month), are also available via the project website. The February 28th meeting will be at The Kenney (7125 Fauntleroy Way SW; WSB sponsor) at 6:30 pm.

KING TIDES: ‘Coastal Flood Advisory’ alert for Wednesday morning

January 22, 2019 7:48 pm
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 |   West Seattle beaches | West Seattle news | West Seattle weather

As noted here previously, the next two mornings bring winter’s highest high tides, aka “king tides” – 13.1 feet both days (7:04 am tomorrow, 7:43 am Thursday). Though no major problems are anticipated, the National Weather Service nonetheless has issued a Coastal Flood Advisory for 5 am to 10 am, advising, “The combination of high astronomical tides, low atmospheric pressure and waves from onshore winds will result in minor coastal flooding Wednesday morning.” If you’re out at that early hour, let us know what you see (photos to 206-293-6302 or westseattleblog@gmail.com) – thanks!

Winter’s highest ‘king tides’ next week – but first, about that eclipse

Tonight’s almost-full moon reminds us …

(WSB photo from December 17, 2012)

KING TIDES: Without stormier weather, we’re not likely to see a scene like that, but you still might want to know that the highest high tides of winter 2019 are just a few days away. Wednesday (7:01 am) and Thursday (7:43 am) will both bring 13.1-foot “king tides,” a bit lower than last January, which had two days with 13.2 tides. Here’s the full tide chart.

ECLIPSE: The forecast does not look favorable for seeing the Super Blood Moon lunar eclipse Sunday night. But if we get a break – here are the times to look.

VIDEO: ‘Super Plungers’ raising money for Special Olympics of Washington with twice-hourly Alki Beach swims

January 5, 2019 1:27 pm
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 |   How to help | West Seattle beaches | West Seattle news

(WSB photos/video)

Those are a few of the hardy souls – mostly from Seattle PD and other law-enforcement agencies – who are taking twice-hourly “plunges” into Puget Sound all day today outside the Alki Bathhouse. Their mission is twofold: To raise money for Special Olympics of Washington and to raise awareness of The Big Plunge on February 9th (you’re invited to be part of what they hope will be a recordsetting event that day). They’re having fun, too – we stopped by for the eighth plunge at 11:30 am and discovered the group conga’ing from the bathhouse to the water:


Between plunges, they’re staying warm inside the Bathhouse. And you might notice some of their flotation gear outside:

This is set to continue on the hour and half-hour until 5 pm. Meantime, you can register for the February 9th Big Plunge by going here.

VIDEO, PHOTOS: Alki Beach New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim 2019

15 minutes before hundreds ran in and out of Puget Sound for this year’s Alki Beach New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim, organizer Mark Ufkes hollered that the water was warmer than the air – 46 degrees and 36 degrees respectively.

Did you notice the fireboat in the background in that clip? Here’s what it did after most were out of the water:

Of course there were plenty of sights on the beach – hats and masks, for example:

Or declaration of Rose Bowl allegiance:

Organizer Mark sported closer-to-home college gear (plus the pink trunks he explained in his announcement of the event):

He also brought TSA-auction-bought corkscrews again for pink-wearing swimmers:

But for many, it was all about the thrill and the chill …

… with a bonfire awaiting some as a reward.

P.S. This year brings a second “polar” swim to Alki – as we reported last month, the Special Olympics of Washington Polar Plunge fundraiser is returning to West Seattle waters for the first time since 2011. February 9th is the date and they’re hoping for a sizable enough turnout to set a record.

‘King tides’ arrive with advisory

December 23, 2018 4:16 am
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 |   West Seattle beaches | West Seattle news

No major problems are expected, but the National Weather Service has a Coastal Flood Advisory in effect this morning, warning of “minor tidal overflow for some areas near the shorelines for a couple of hours around high tide.” This comes as another round of winter “king tides” arrives, with the highest tides each day above 12 feet through New Year’s Eve, peaking with 13-foot high tides on Christmas Day and the day after. (Here’s the chart.) This morning’s high tide is 12.5 feet just before 6 am.

Special Olympics Polar Plunge returning to Alki in February

December 18, 2018 6:10 pm
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 |   How to help | West Seattle beaches | West Seattle news

(Photo from the first of two Special Olympics Polar Plunges held at Alki in 2010 & 2011)

For the first time in eight years, Special Olympics of Washington is bringing its Polar Plunge fundraiser back to Alki Beach – and it’s hoping to make a really huge splash. The event set for 1 p.m. Saturday, February 9th, is aimed at setting a world record:

For the Seattle Polar Plunge on Saturday, February 9, polar plungers everywhere are invited to help break the Guinness World Record for the most simultaneous polar plungers. More than 1,800 participants with warm hearts and nerves of steel are needed to crush the current Guinness World Record set in 2015 in Poland.

This will be the biggest one of six Special Olympics-benefiting Polar Plunges around the state in early 2019. It’ll feature police volunteers, as it’s supported by the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run, but all are welcome to participate – you can register here.

(P.S. This is not related to the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim at Alki – still awaiting official word on that!)

From the West Seattle Holiday Guide: Christmas Ship visits this week!

December 3, 2018 11:06 am
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 |   Holidays | West Seattle beaches | West Seattle news

(WSB file photo)

If you haven’t already seen the schedule in the WSB West Seattle Holiday Guide – the Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship visits West Seattle and South Park this week! Here’s where and when you can gather on the shore and enjoy being serenaded by seasonal sounds:

Friday, December 7th:

-7:55 pm at Lowman Beach Park (7017 Beach Drive SW)
-8:40 pm at Alki Beach Park (near the Bathhouse, 60th SW/Alki SW)

Choir of the Sound will be aboard.

Saturday, December 8th:

-3 pm at Duwamish Waterway Park in South Park (7900 10th Ave. S.)
-4:05 at Don Armeni Boat Ramp (1222 Harbor SW)
-9:10 pm at Salty’s on Alki (1936 Harbor SW; WSB sponsor)

Rainier Youth Choirs will be on board.

Each stop usually lasts about 20 minutes.

The Whale Trail, Seal Sitters and friends ‘Welcome the Orcas’ while watching them!

12:42 PM: While that was the message displayed alongside Mike the inflatable orca outside the Alki Bathhouse, steps away, “Welcome the Orcas” attendees got to put it into action:

The orcas that we mentioned earlier were in sight in the distance. Indoors, you can learn about them – and kids’ activities include ornament-making and face-painting:

The celebration presented by The Whale Trail and Seal Sitters, with some other partners, is on until 2 pm. As for the whales themselves – unpredictable, and magnificent.

ADDED 2:07 PM: A few more scenes from our visit to the celebration. Above, Whale Trail founder/executive director Donna Sandstrom with orca-costumed volunteers. Below, one of the orca-photo signs from the mini-parade:

Inside the bathhouse, all-ages environmental education:

Another of the partner organizations, SR3:

The timing of the celebration is based on the fact that the Southern Resident orcas usually return to Puget Sound in fall to chase salmon runs – the food on which they rely. The endangered whales have been in a brighter spotlight this fall after a task force appointed by the governor – with Sandstrom among its members – released a report with recommendations on how to save them from going extinct.

West Seattle shores: 2018 ‘king tides’ on the way

(January 2013 “king tide” effects at Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza)

Shore-watchers will note the highest daytime high tides of the year start in just a few days: Monday morning at 7:39 am, 12.4 feet; same thing Tuesday at 8:32 am, as the “king tide” time of year begins. Christmas and the day after will bring 13-foot high tides, and the highest tide of winter is due on January 23-24, 13.1 feet. These tides are not usually a problem unless accompanied by seriously stormy weather; Monday looks to be rainy and breezy, but not predicted to hit alert levels, so far.

FOLLOWUP: Beach burial for sea lion

Thanks for the tip. Seattle Parks is digging on the shore south/east of Seacrest to bury the latest dead sea lion to wash up. (Here’s our report from Sunday.) This is one of seven recent sea lion deaths now under federal investigation, according to the Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network – which is who to call if you see a sea lion or other marine mammal on a local shore, alive or dead, 206-905-SEAL.

Why the latest sea-lion carcass on West Seattle’s shore doesn’t add to the toll

The photo and report are from David Hutchinson of Seal Sitters:

This morning, Seal Sitters responded to a report of a sea-lion carcass floating near the shore in Cove #1 (just north of Salty’s). On examination, it has been determined that this is the same dead animal that was reported to our Hotline back on November 8th. At that time, it floated away before we were able to arrange for retrieval. Due to the current state of decomposition, a necropsy is not planned at this time. The green “W.S.” marking is placed with biodegradable paint so that the carcass can be identified if it happens to float to a different location.

To report any marine mammal, alive or dead, on West Seattle beaches, please call the Seal Sitters’ Hotline at 206-905-7325.

This is one of five dead California sea lions found on area beaches this fall. As reported here, the previous two were necropsied at Don Armeni Boat Ramp on Thursday and both were found to have gunshot wounds. Federal authorities are investigating.

California sea lion carcass removed from West Seattle beach

After about a week, a dead California sea lion that had been on the beach at Jack Block Park is gone. David Hutchinson of Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network shares the photo and explains its disposition:

Friday, a team from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (Marine Mammal Investigations) and SR3 (Sealife Response, Rehabilitation & Research), in cooperation with the Port of Seattle, removed an 8-foot long California sea lion carcass from the public beach at Jack Block Park. Seal Sitters coordinated this response, monitoring the carcass’s condition and location until a permit to tow and sink could be obtained through NOAA from the Environmental Protection Agency. Before removal, a necropsy was performed and samples were taken for further analysis. The remains were then towed and sunk at the designated location.

Seal Sitters is a member of NOAA’s West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network. We respond to reports of live or dead marine mammals on the beaches of West Seattle from Brace point through the Duwamish River including Harbor Island. If you spot a marine mammal on our local beaches, please call Seal Sitters’ Hotline at 206-905-7325.

Banners up, asking that you ‘Share The Shore’

The photo and announcement are from Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network, sent by Lynn Shimamoto:

Seal Sitters’ “Share the Shore” banners are once again hanging along Alki Avenue. The banners were designed several years ago as a Seal Sitters outreach project with the help of a city grant. They are to remind everyone that this is the start of pupping season, when newly weaned harbor seal pups show up on West Seattle beaches. Indeed, we anticipate “Jam,” the still-nursing pup who has been frequently seen with mom ”Pearl,” will soon be weaned and vulnerable as he/she tries to rest and warm up on the beach. Please, if you see a seal: stay back, keep dogs off the beach, and call Seal Sitters at 206-905-SEAL (206-905-7325).

Seal Sitters is part of NOAA’s West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network. We respond to marine mammals dead or alive in West Seattle from Brace Point to the Duwamish River, including Harbor Island.

Pearl & Jam appear on West Seattle shore as Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network recruits for final 2018 training

Meet Pearl and Jam. David Hutchinson – who photographed them Sunday – reports that Jam was Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network‘s “first new harbor seal pup of the 2018 season,” resting with mom Pearl “on a rock just offshore from one of our local beaches. … If you see them at any of our West Seattle beaches, please keep back, keep people and pets away, and call the Seal Sitters’ Hotline at 206-905-SEAL (7325).” Meantime, he shared this announcement:


Seal Sitters is a member of NOAA’s West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network. We are responsible for responding to any marine mammal on West Seattle beaches from Brace Point through the Duwamish River including Harbor Island.

All new volunteers are required to take a 2-hour training session. Our last training of 2018 will be held in the front meeting room at the Alki UCC, 6115 SW Hinds (MAP), on Saturday, August 25th from 10 AM – Noon. This will be followed by a short Q&A opportunity. Topics covered will include: The Marine Mammal Protection Act, life in a harbor seal rookery, what is Seal Sitters’ role in NOAA’s network, information on the most common marine mammals in our local waters, your role as a volunteer in a challenging urban environment. Also discussed will be volunteer opportunities as a hotline operator, first responder, and scheduler.

IF YOU DON’T LIVE IN WEST SEATTLE – While all the different groups operating in Puget Sound are part of NOAA’s Network, each group functions separately and provides its own training. Our training would only qualify you to volunteer within the area mentioned above.

If you plan on attending, an RSVP is required. Please include in your email the full names of everyone who will be attending. If any of these are minors, include their ages. A parent or guardian must accompany all minors to the training and when they are on the beach. Seating is limited, so be sure to register early to reserve your place.

To RSVP: SealSitters.Outreach@msn.com

SPF30 updates: Setup begins; a vendor you’ll recognize; the guitar you can bid on now; streaming plans…

With three days until Saturday’s SPF30Sub Pop Records‘ concert-filled 30th anniversary celebration at Alki Beach – we have four more updates:

SETUP BEGINS: Thanks to David Hutchinson for the photos showing stage setup today on both sides of the Alki Bathhouse. Above, west of the Bathhouse, is the Loser Stage; below, to the east, the Flippity-Flop Stage:

(Photo courtesy C & P Coffee Company)

Who’s playing when/where was announced two weeks ago; you can find it all fast on the right side of the main SPF30 webpage.

A VENDOR FIRST: The other two stages are Harsh Realm, at 57th/Alki, and Punky, at Whale Tail Park, where you’ll not only find kid-geared music but also this familiar vendor:

C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) says this will be its first time with a pop-up outside the shop! They’ll be selling cold-brew coffee on Saturday. And another familiar West Seattle company will be nearby – Husky Deli. (We hope to have a full list of vendors for an upcoming update.)

FUNDRAISING GUITAR: Bidding is open online for this one-of-a-kind handmade guitar produced in commemoration of Sub Pop turning 30:

We got a look at it while covering the SPF30 volunteer orientation earlier this week. You can see it on display all week at Thunder Road Guitars (4736 California SW; WSB sponsor) in The Junction. It’s a fundraiser for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, a beneficiary of SPF30. To bid on it – and to find out more about it – go here.

STREAMING: Can’t (or don’t want to) go on Saturday, but want to catch some of the shows? KEXP has announced a video-streaming schedule, with viewing options including its website and YouTube channel. Go here to see which bands it’s streaming and when.

P.S. In case you missed it – here’s the SPF30 transportation plan (including road closures, parking for motorized and non-motorized vehicles, transit, etc.) as announced Tuesday.

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.

Alki Beach tomorrow, Suquamish tonight for Tribal Journey canoe families

(WSB photo, 2017)

As first reported here last week, dozens of canoe families participating in this year’s Tribal Canoe Journey – the Power Paddle to Puyallup – are expected to land on Alki Beach tomorrow afternoon (Thursday, July 26th). Their hosts the Muckleshoot Tribe plan to be ready to welcome arrivals as early as noon. The Puyallup-bound canoe families are on the west side of Puget Sound at Suquamish tonight; the schedule for their stop there says they’ll be leaving as early as 8 am. More canoes are visiting Alki this year than last because rather than this being a stop on the way north, this year it’s a southbound stop close to the end of the journey (see the map here). After arriving on Alki, canoe families and their support crews will travel to the Muckleshoot Powwow Grounds in Auburn for the night. During our coverage tomorrow, we’ll report on plans for the Friday departure, which also usually draws spectators

Sick sea lion removed from West Seattle beach

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.

Tribal Journeys canoes to stop at Alki Beach again this year

IMG_5343(WSB photo from canoes’ 2016 arrival on Alki)

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.

West Seattle scenes: Low-low tide today – and almost as low on Saturday

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.

PHOTOS: 2018 Seafair Pirates Landing, report #2 – what happened onshore

(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)

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 AlcyoneCupcake 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!

Seafair Pirates Landing, report #1: The arrival

Just in case you wondered – yes, the Seafair Pirates have arrived at Alki! They sailed up from the exotic south (with the occasional cannon blast audible from Fauntleroy and Beach Drive) and approached shore around 1:40 pm. More to come in report #2…