Friday, September 8, 2017


Transient Orcas returned to central Puget Sound today.  About 8 Transients were seen in the late morning hours passing Elliott Bay, Constellation Marine Reserve in West Seattle and headed toward South Puget Sound.  Transients are mammal eaters...but today they seemed to be in travel mode as they passed by a number of feeding sea lions without giving any notice.  The sea lions seems undisturbed by the orca's presence. Resident Orca pods have not been seen in Puget Sound water or the San Juan Islands since early August....a rather long summer absence.  Residence are salmon eaters and may not be finding enough prey to remain in the area.  Central Puget Sound usually sees the Resident Orcas in the fall when the Chum and Coho salmon return to spawn in local rivers.  Transient Orcas can show up any time.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


For those of my readers that think I should stick with postings that are related to Puget Sound....I apologize, but occasionally when things are a bit slow in the marine news area I'm tempted to post something from the mountains.  Well, it's part of the Puget Sound watershed so it sort of fits the blog title.  
Last week was another hike on the Naches Peak Loop I find myself doing often due to a couple of factors.  First it is a beautiful hike with outstanding views of Mt. Rainier.  Second is it mostly a traffic free drive (this is extremely important if traffic nightmare Seattle area).  Third it is an easy day hike with lots of different habitats including two ponds. And lastly it is relatively uncrowded for a summer hike in Mt. Rainier NP.  All that said last Friday's hike was unusual in the abundance of you may notice from the images below.  

Male Black Bear

Male Black Bear

Black Bear

Cascade Frog

Cascade Frog

Cascade Frog tadpole

Cat Face snow patch on Tatoosh Range


Cricket on Anemone

Ground Squirrel 

Long-toed Salamander

Black Bear

Noelle with Gray Jays

Sooty Grouse female

Sooty Grouse female

Sooty Grouse juv.

Tiger Beetle

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


It was good planning for Mother Nature to place the path of totality across the high Oregon desert in August when it almost never is cloudy.....however there is often a haze in the air due to forest fires. That was the situation in the weeks before the eclipse date but the wind changed direction and moved the smoke out of the area.  We headed down from Seattle to Warm Spring OR on the 19th and had very little road traffic to deal with....the same held true for the trip home after the eclipse.  I feel very lucky as many people were caught in massive traffic jams both coming and going.  Thanks to friends we had a place to stay 50 north of the path of totality.

The images below will hopefully give you an idea of what we advice..never miss a chance to see a Total Eclipse of the Sun.

Viewing spot for eclipse at Warm Springs Kah-nee-ta


Partial beginning

Instant that totality was over

Monday, August 7, 2017


The first Harbor Seal pup of the 2017 season rested on the beach at Lincoln Park on Sunday August 6th.  The pup "Beethoven" may have been recently weaned (weaning is 4-6 weeks after birth and pup in on its own after that).  Beethoven chose a very busy spot to rest...very close to the walking/biking bath along the shoreline.  Beethoven appears to be a little thin so hopefully will fatten up on bait fish in the area.  Pink Salmon are also around but Beethoven likely is not very good at catching that kind of meal....later.
Beethoven was spotted on the beach about 3:30pm and returned to the water around 8pm.  Please give all resting seals a wide berth..100 yards if possible as they require about 12 hours of rest per 24.  Loss of resting time for seal pups can greatly increase the chances that they will not survive the first year of life.
Seal Sitters monitors pups on the beach to ensure they have the best chance to rest.  If you see a seal on the beach in West Seattle please contact Seal Sitters at 206-905-SEAL. 

Beethoven's choppers

A very smoky day in Seattle

Smoke produces orange sun

Saturday, July 29, 2017


Life under the ferry dock is different than that on the open exposed beach.  The dock provides shade from the sun, protection from rain and cooler air temperature than on the open beach on hot summer days.  In addition there is somewhat different water circulation due to the ferry wake each time the ferry departs the dock.  These factors may be responsible for the differences we see in animal populations under the dock as opposed to those on the adjacent beach.
Some noticeable differences include:   Increased number of  Purple, and Leather sea stars, Geoduck clams, sea pens, and compound tunicates.  Sea Stars under the dock also are much larger than those seen on the beach....and likely have survived sea star wasting disease, although some have been infected.  

Under the Ferry Dock

Purple Stars and Tunicates




Leather Star

Mottled Anemone

Northern Kelp Crab with eggs

Barnacle encrusted Kelp Crab (female with eggs)

Sea Pen

Giant Pacific Barnacle (first observed in 2008)

Giant Pacific Barnacle

Tunicates and Kelp Crabs

Large Purple Star

Jointed Tube Worm with Hydroids 

Sea Lemon

Kelp Crab Purple Star and Tunicates

Giant Pacific Barnacle with Tube worms attached

Mottled Anemone

Chiton (Smooth Mopalia)

Smooth Mopalia

Lined Nudibranch


Sea Pen and Lined Nudibranch

Sunflower Star

Lion's Mane Jellyfish (damaged)




Pacific Gaper Clam

Tiny Moon Snail

Tiny Moon Snail

Sea Pen

Sea Anemone

Lined Nudibranch