Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Hi, I'm Jack a male Anna's hummingbird at Jack Block Park in West Seattle.  I'm the only species of hummingbird dumb enough to spend winter in Seattle.  I hate it when people come by wearing red jackets, like that jerk Buzz.  I get all worked up thinking it's another giant male trying to take over my territory.....
Geeeze...give me a break.

Have a great 2014,



On last night's (12-30-13) beach walk at Emma Schmitz Park south of Constellation there were a number of differences from the night before at Constellation Park.  The most common sea star was the Mottled Star and most appeared to be healthy.  There were a number of Purple Stars with some showing the wasting disease.  Of some 25 Sunflower Stars (all small) only one showed signs of wasting disease.  Many of the Sunflower Stars however were partially out of sight within the clay ridges on the beach making health determination not entirely certain.
On the condo pilings just south of Constellation Park the Purple Stars appeared mainly healthy with only about 5% showing signs of sea star wasting disease.   In addition the condo piling produced a green anemone (could be very large Aggregate Anemone ).  Constellation provided a squid sighting...alive but likely soon to be dead (they die after mating).

Dungeness Crab

Frilled Whelk (some were laying eggs)

Large Aggregate Anemone

Gumboot Chiton

Mottled Anemone

Mottled Star (healthy)

Opalescent Squid

Purple Star (wasting) Condo pilings

Sunflower Star (healthy) & Sea Lemon

Sunflower Star (wasting) Schmitz

Monday, December 30, 2013


A perfect weather night for a beach walk......45 deg F, no wind, no rain.  A large crowd took advantage of the weather a minus 1.5' tide and the presence of Seattle Aquarium Beach Naturalists to explore one of Seattle's best intertidal areas.   Red Rock Crabs, Northern Kelp Crabs, Anemones, Shrimp,
and Moon Snails (one even with an egg case) put on a great show.  A Marble Snailfish showed up (first one I've ever seen at Constellation).  On a more depressing note there was evidence that sea star wasting disease is now epidemic on this beach....especially on the north end where an estimated 20% of Purple Sea Stars had the wasting disease.  The cause of the disease, which is wide spread and affecting a number of Sea Star species from Canada to California, is unknown.  On a December 5th beach walk I counted 398 Purple Sea Stars at Constellation M.R. with only one found to have the wasting disease.  On Dec. 29th dozens of Purple Sea Stars were wasting.   Images below tell some of the sad story.

Dock Shrimp

Nanaimo Dorid Sea Slug

Marbled Snailfish

Marbled Snailfish

Marbled Snailfish

Moon Snail with egg case

Moonglow Anemone

Moonglow Anemone

Plumose Anemone

Red Rock Crab

Northern Kelp Crab

Mottled Anemone

Purple Sea Star wasting disease

Purple Sea Star wasting disease

Purple Sea Star wasting disease

Purple Sea Star wasting disease

Purple Sea Star wasting disease

Purple Sea Star wasting disease

Purple Sea Star wasting disease

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Fall of 2013 has been one of the driest if not the driest in Seattle memory.  The 3 major storms that have hit Washington State have found Seattle sitting in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains on all three occasions.....it's a real drought...hopefully short term as we will need mountain snows to supply water next summer.   Not really a worry yet as much of our snow in the mountains often comes late in the winter and even early spring.
Fall also brought the beginning of a large die off of sea stars, mainly Sunflower Stars, but other species are also affected.  British Columbia has been hard hit, and Elliott Bay at Seattle in Puget Sound has seen significant die off of Sunflower Stars.  The stars just disintegrate.  I have done a December survey on Seattle's Constellation Marine Reserve in West Seattle and found little evidence of the die off.  Of 398 counted Purple Stars only one was seen in bad condition.  Only a few dozen Sunflower Stars were observed, all small but seemingly healthy.  I have noticed on a number of occasions gulls feeding on individual Sunflower Star rays.  Not an unusual food for gulls but these observations were during high tides when Sunflower Stars would not be on the beach.  The rays must have washed up on the beach after detaching from the sea star during disintegration.   http://www.seadocsociety.org/sea-star-wasting-disease/
The dry evenings have led to a number of sunset views that are uncommon during Seattle's usually cloudy skies.
Harbor Seal pups continue to show up on local West Seattle beaches and are monitored by Seal Sitters volunteers.  While the Harbor Seal pups are easily disturbed and forced back in the water (which lessens their chances for survival), Sea Lions are much harder to disturb as evidenced by the image of the boat next to the buoy loaded with California Sea Lions.....not one moved off the buoy.  Nevertheless the boat is in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and should remain 100 yards from the buoy.  These sea lions are often in close contact with tugs that move barges on and off the buoys and are not easily disturbed.

Seattle Rain Shadow

Gull with Sunflower Star ray

Horned Grebe

Disintegrating Purple Sea Star

Double-crested Cormorants

Fall Sunset

Smith Tower Sunset

Kingfisher on wire

California Sea Lions and illegal approach by boat

Harbor Seal pups at Alki Beach

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Lots of scattered stuff here.  Weaned Harbor Seal pups keep turning up on local beaches, some healthy and others both ill and dead.  This year has seen more deaths recorded for seal pups in West Seattle than last year.  There are also some very chubby seal pups so it's a mixed bag.  California Sea Lion males are back in large numbers as well as a few Steller Sea Lions.  This years summer run of Pink Salmon was about 6,000,000 fish in Puget Sound and the Fall Chum Salmon run may be near record high numbers.  Orca whales have been in Central and South Puget Sound for a number of days off and on feeding on the large Chum Salmon runs.  Most Central Puget Sound Chum Runs are on the West side of the Sound and there are a number of places to observe the runs.
Eagles have also been taking advantage of the large runs and evidenced by attached images....all that salmon makes some eagles think they can handle more than they actually can...(sorry about the images...couldn't resist).  One Harbor Seal....known as "Boomer" hauls out on a float beam in Elliott Bay quite often...seems uncomfortable but who knows...  since it's a beam and not a log boom perhaps "Beamer" would be a better name.  Might motivate a certain car manufacturer to send some cash to Stranding Network operations.  An octopus eating seal was luckily caught in the act.....just a lucky camera shot.
Tide pools were full of shrimp, weather was perfect with dry clear sky no wind and water a clear as possible.
Seattle has a new mayor....council members will be elected by district in the future but GEF will still not require labels stating such.

                                                 NEST BUILDING FOR DUMMIES

Jack Block Park Chum Salmon feast

Sea Lions on bouy

Rusty seal on old dock at Jack Block Park-color likely from dock surface

Anna's Hummingbird male is back at Jack Block

Boomer and gull that forced Boomer off beam

Harbor Seal with octopus

Alki tide pool

Chiton with tiny anemones attached to shells

Moonglow Anemone

Penpoint Gunnel

Purple Sea Stars on piling

Red Rock Crab

Shrimp in tidepool