Saturday, July 30, 2016


On July 27th 83 Tribal canoes from west coast native tribes landed at Alki Beach in West Seattle.  This year the annual Canoe Journey will have the Pow Wow hosted by the Nisqually tribe in South Puget Sound.  This is the first visit to Alki since 2012 and the most canoes I have ever seen at Alki.  The canoes departed Alki on 7-28 headed south to Tacoma and then Nisqually.  On departure from Alki a pod of Common Dolphins showed up......dolphins that are very rare in Puget Sound but have been sighted here since the start of July.  The dolphins have likely come north from California following anchovy that have moved north looking for cooler water during El Nino.  Dolphin images courtesy of David Hutchinson.

Common Dolphins - image David Hutchinson

Common Dolphins image David Hutchinson

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


July marks the beginning of Harbor Seal pupping season.  Pups are weaned in 4 to 6 weeks and are then on their own to find food and survive without help from mom.  This a hard time for pups as they will not become efficient hunters for about a month after weaning.  Pups will lose weight and about 50% will not survive.  During this period it is especially important that pups have a safe place to rest...away from disturbances that would force them back into the water.  On Alki beach pups are especially vulnerable to human and K9 disturbance.  Seal Sitters (a part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network) staff monitors pups, sets up barriers to keep people at a respectful distance and provides education to those who see the pups on the beach.  It is illegal to disturb a resting seal...pup or adult as these animals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  Causing a seal to change its normal behavior can result in a hefty fine....and possible jail time.  

On July 22nd a pup came ashore at Alki Beach Park and used the beach as a resting location for the next 4 days.  Seal Sitters monitored the seal's health and set up barriers as well as providing information for the passing public.

The pup was determined, by WDFW biologist, to be about 2 to 4 weeks old (estimated).  It was determined that its location on the busy Alki beach was not in the pups best interest from a health standpoint.  The pup appeared to be underweight and likely not feeding properly during its time in the water.

Seal Sitters staff and volunteers, under the direction of WDFW biologist, captured the pup for relocation by WDFW to a location remote from human interaction and in proximity to a large group of other seals.  Hopefully this will give the pup a better chance of surviving the difficulties of the first few months of life.

Only personnel authorized by NOAA to perform interventions of this type can in any way attempt for rescue a marine mammal, move it, feed it or in any way alter its behavior.   Please keep well back of any marine mammal on the beach.  Dogs are not allowed on any Seattle Parks beaches at any time leashed or unleashed.  Maximum fine is $500 for any infraction.

If you see any marine mammal on the beach in West Seattle please contact Seal Sitters at 206-905 SEAL.  

Pup returning to water to attempt to feed

WDFW and Seal Sitters staff in relocation process

Harbor Seal pup

Seal Sitters barrier and information board

Gulls often peck at beached Harbor Seal pups

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Three juvenile River Otters put in an appearance at Duwamish Head 7-19-16.  The first arrival was calling constantly for 20 minutes after which 2 siblings showed up and the calling's hard when your lost.  No adults were seen.

Monday, July 18, 2016


The eagle from the previous post has been joined lately by its mate.  The two Bald Eagles return to Duwamish Head daily as the tide goes out.  The attraction for the eagles is crab bait left behind by crabbers when they finish.  This includes turkey, chicken, fish.....and who knows what else.  All is good as far as the eagles, gulls and crows are concerned.  After gorging on crab bait the eagles usually fly out to the navigation platform 1/4 mile offshore for rest time.  These eagles are fairly tolerant of people but if you visit please give them at least 30 feet of space....if you want pictures bring a camera with a zoom lens.  One eagle has an irregular shaped right eye iris which may be a birth defect...I believe this is the male.  There is a pecking order....Eagles, gulls, crows....however the crows don't seem to know it.

Sunday, July 3, 2016


Lately a Bald Eagle has been spending the dawn hours at Anchor Park in West Seattle.  This eagle is very laid-back.  People approach within 15 feet and the bird simply sits and sometimes looks...but does not fly.  In time the bird may move to a light standard close by...perhaps for a better view but this move invariably enrages the local crow population which set upon the eagle with determination.  Finally the eagle abandons its perch and moves off to a day navigation marker 1/4 mile offshore.  Tomorrow will likely see the same story play out.  See you at Anchor Park at about 5:30am???