Friday, January 31, 2014


In previous posts I have presented the story of the dead sea lion that ended up on Alki beach within feet of a large log with a sea lion carving on it......that was strange.  Now we can add another bit of strangeness to the story.  Last night a high tide moved the dead sea lion about 20 yards south of it's original position on the beach.  The sea lion ended up in front of the next condo complex.  On the second floor level condo deck was sitting the perfect Seal Sitter for a dead sea lion......Images tell all.

Original Sea Lion location

New Sea Lion location

Carving of sea lion on log

Seal sitter on 2nd floor deck above sea lion

Thursday, January 23, 2014


While watching a Harbor Seal pup as part of Seal Sitters yesterday afternoon at Lowman Beach Park in West Seattle we had some rather interesting sky effects.  So I thought I would share them...
One thing I always think about when watching a sunset, no matter how ordinary....if I live to be 100 million years old I will never get a chance to see another exactly like it.

Washington State Ferry to Vashion Island

Puget Sound Vashion Island
January afternoon Sun

Puget Sound Vashion Island

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


In the last posts I covered the incident of the dead California Sea Lion that washed ashore on a beach in West Seattle.  The sea lion remains on the beach as plans for its removal are being formulated at Seattle Animal Control.  The animal rests on a private beach.
In June of 2012 a wood carver was working on a large log at Lincoln Park a few miles south of where the dead sea lion now rests.  The carving was of a California Sea Lion and remained on the beach at Lincoln Park for some time.  Strangely enough the carved log was at some unknown time refloated from Lincoln Park and drifted north to its current resting place.....a few yards south of the dead sea lion.......Twilight Zone stuff.................

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


An 8 foot long male California Sea Lion washed ashore in West Seattle a few days ago.  This is not an unusual event but also not common.  Male California Sea Lions visit Puget Sound every year and can be seen from August to May in Elliott Bay in small numbers.  Females remain south of Washington and only rarely do strays enter the Sound.  Cause of death of this individual is unknown and a necropsy well likely not be done.
Juvenile California Sea Lions have been suffering from malnourishment in California which may be a result of the population crash of the prey item, sardines.  The sardines became immortalized in John Steinbeck's CANNERY ROW in the 1940's.  The California population of sardines which was estimated in millions of metric tons crashed in the 1950's and has never recovered to its 1940's level but did make a bit of a recovery in the last few decades....this partial recovery is now over it appears.
The reason for the crash is not fully understood.....hoe much is due to natural population swings and how much to human actions is a big question.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Clear water, rain-less, windless nights made going to the beach in the dark a joy this winter.  Predator action not often seen was observed on two nights running.  Shaggy Mouse Sea Slugs were observed feeding as a group (sort of looked like a family buffet) on Mottled Anemone.  Frilled Dog Whelks are universally seen feeding on barnacles but not often are their eggs seen being the target of Pillbox Isopods.  These are the smallest Isopods of this species I have ever seen, but will grow quickly I think on a rich egg diet.  Barnacle eating Sea Slug laying eggs were abundant in the upper tide zone.
Squid, which are laying eggs in Puget Sound in winter, have been commonly seen in small numbers at low tide.  It's sad to see the sea star wasting disease taking a large toll on the Purple Sea Stars, but the Mottled and Sunflower Stars in the intertidal at Constellation and Schmitz Parks in West Seattle appear to be in better shape with little observed wasting disease.

Barnacle eating Sea Slugs with eggs

Purple Sea Star with wasting disease

Shaggy Mouse Sea Slugs feeding on Mottled Anemone

Frilled Dog Whelk eggs being eaten by Pillbox Isopods

Crescent Gunnel

Feather Duster Worms

Frilled Dog Whelks

Mottled Anemone damaged by Shaggy Mouse attack

Pillbox Isopod feeding on Frilled Whelk eggs

Sculpin eggs (unk species)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Perfect ending to 2013 with clam water, 45 degrees F and a Giant Pacific Octopus to welcome in the New Year.  The good news is all of the small Sunflower Stars appeared healthy and they were plentiful.  Still the number of Purple Stars with sea star wasting disease is high.  Kelp Crabs, Dungeness Crabs, Red Rock Crabs were abundant.  Due to the normal seasonal die back of large sea weeds the viewing of animal species was much better than summer.  Coraline algae covered rocks hosted Lined Chitons, Mottled Anemones, and other assorted marine life, all in plain view.  The female octopus was ogled by just about everyone on the beach and no doubt was very happy to see us forced away by the incoming tide.  The green anemone on the pilings under the condo mentioned in an earlier post turned out to be a very large Aggregate Anemone.  No squid showed up.....bummer.   Another minus 3' tide tonight so it will be back to the beach for another adventure......first of looks good.

Barnacle Eating Sea Slugs and eggs

Feather Duster Worm

Feather Duster Worm

Giant Pacific Octopus

Giant Pacific Octopus

Northern Kelp Crabs mating

Lined Chiton

Lined Chiton

Purple Sea Star with wasting disease

Fish eggs

Sunflower Star

Tide Pool with Mottled Anemone and Coraline algae
Small Sea Stars Alki