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|
|Disintegrating Purple Sea Star|
|Smith Tower Sunset|
|Kingfisher on wire|
|California Sea Lions and illegal approach by boat|
|Harbor Seal pups at Alki Beach|