Wednesday, December 21, 2016

SOLSTICE ON THE SOLSTICE

A Harbor Seal pup arrived at Constellation for a rest today at about 11:30 am.  The pup appeared to be alert and relatively healthy but the left eye appeared cloudy.  The pup remained on the beach until at least 5:30 pm when it may have moved toward the water's edge but low light made it impossible to determine its exact location.  Seal Sitters volunteers were out in force to monitor the pup and answer questions from the public.
Happy Solstice....😃






WATERSHED SNOWPACK

Its looking like this winter may see a very good snowpack in the Washington mountains.  Currently Crystal Mountain Ski Resort has 100 inches with more coming this week.  Excellent amount for mid December. Hail La Niña.  After a record warm and wet October and wet warm November we are seeing a real winter pattern.  Images from Crystal Mountain.
Happy Holidays








Tuesday, November 29, 2016

SEA LIONS AND ORCAS IN ELLIOTT BAY 

This fall has seen the arrival of a large number of California Sea Lions in Elliott.  Thirty plus have been observed hauled out on barges from time to time.  These males are feeding on returning Chum salmon and likely other fish as well.  This is a normal fall event but the numbers of sea lions seems to be up this year.  On November 28th a group of three Transient Orca Whales entered Elliott Bay and were observed to attack and kill at least one sea lion.  Today I observed from Jack Block Park a dead sea lion drifting away from the mouth of the Duwamish River to the north.
I have included images of the dead sea lion. That's a Chum salmon being scarfed down in the video...from Duwamish River 12-3-16


Dead Sea Lion (possible Orca victim)

Dead Sea Lion


video

Monday, October 24, 2016

ORCAS, HUMPBACK WHALE VISIT SEATTLE 10-24-16

Orcas and one Humpback Whale visited Seattle today....Resident Orcas from J Pod and likely another pod passed West Seattle in early afternoon while foraging for Chum and Coho salmon which are returning to Puget Sound rivers to spawn.
Humpback Whales have been visiting Puget Sound in increased numbers in recent years due to protection of the Marine Mammal Act of 1972 which has allowed the population to recover from whaling.








Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale

Humpback tail


Monday, August 8, 2016

HUMPBACK WHALE STRANDS AND DIES AT WEST SEATTLE BEACH 8-7-16

A 39 foot female Humpback Whale stranded on a West Seattle beach just south of the Fauntleroy Ferry dock on Sunday 8/7/16.  The whale was estimated to be between 1.5 and 3 years old but likely closer to 3.  A necropsy was done but results are not in yet.  The whale was emaciated and had three killer whale bite marks on the lower right jaw which were unlikely to have contributed to the whales death. There was a large population of whale lice on the whale which may have indicated ill health, however whale lice (actually amphipods of the family Cyamidae) are common on many species of whales and are not considered abnormal.  Humpback Whales have one species but some other whales have more than one.  The whale lice feed on the tissue of the whale externally and are often found in large numbers in cuts.  Puget Sound is seeing an increase in Humpback Whale sightings as the population increases.  Over the last 30 years the Humpback population in the North Pacific has increased 4 fold and is now considered healthy.
The whale arrived on the beach about 7:30 am and was alive at the time but died around 11 am.
After performing the necropsy the whale was towed to a secure location and will be sunk in deep water likely 8/8/16.  Washington State Ferries provided the towing boat.
Seal Sitters (part of NOAA stranding network) set up barriers to keep onlookers at a safe distance and provided staff to answer question from the public that visited the beach and lined the walkway on the ferry dock.  NOAA, WDFW, and Cascadia Reasearch Coop staff conducted the necropsy with the assistance of Dr.Tag Gornall a private marine mammal veterinarian.  Seattle Police Dept. helped with barriers and crowd control.
While the stranding and death of any whale in Puget Sound is of concern it should be noted that the current population of Humpback Whales in the North Pacific is healthy....and hopefully will continue to prosper.

Orange on back are whale lice

Keeping the whale cool



Left side eye

Barnacles

Eye and whale lice

Whale lice (C. bootis)


Researcher

Whale and ferry dock

Barnacles on front edge of flipper

Baleen

10 foot long flipper

Cuts on lower jaw

Cuts on lower jaw and whale lice

Measurments

Whale barnacles (can only live on whale)

Whale lice in wound

Tail flukes

Live whale lice

Blubber (sample taken here)

Preparing to move to overnight location


Washington State Ferries boat

Setting floats on whale


Washington State Ferries tow boat

WSF tow boat

Towing the whale to overnight location

Afternoon sky

Whale lice from Humpback Whale  (Cyamus boopis)