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"Sentinels of the Sound" beach cleanup to help marine life

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Help keep marine life safe! On Saturday, June 4th, from 10am-12pm, come on down to Alki Beach and do your part to keep the sea free of dangerous debris. We will meet at the Statue of Liberty Plaza (Alki Ave SW and 61st Ave SW) in West Seattle. “Sentinels of the Sound” Beach Cleanup is co-sponsored by Seal Sitters MMSN and the Alki Community Council.

Before volunteers disperse to clean up the beach, there will be a brief talk on the devastating impact of trash and debris on marine life.

Did you know that an estimated 80% of marine debris originates from land? Or that 360 billion cigarette butts are discarded in the U.S. alone each year - all of them leaching toxic chemicals into the soil and waterways? At last year’s beach cleanup, volunteers picked up an estimated 9,000 butts from Alki Beach (and adjoining sidewalks and street) in just a few hours.

Did you know that derelict fishing gear and plastics injure and kill many thousands of marine mammals and seabirds annually? All of which can be prevented by careful - and proper - disposal.

For Seal Sitters, derelict fishing gear is a very up close and personal issue. Please visit our website to find out why and for more details about the cleanup. Bags will be provided, but please bring your own gloves and pickup sticks. RSVP is requested.

Learn more about our dangerous waters on Seal Sitters’ website.

Seal Sitters new volunteer training May 23rd

Join Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network! Volunteers are not only vital for the protection of seal pups and other marine mammals. We also perform a public service by providing education about marine life and our fragile marine ecosystem to local residents and visitors from around the world.

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NEW VOLUNTEER TRAINING: MONDAY, MAY 23RD SESSION
Seal Sitters MMSN holds several special trainings a year for those wanting to protect marine mammals along the shoreline of West Seattle and the Duwamish River.

We are a very active network and have volunteers who travel from around the area to participate. However, if you live out of the West Seattle area and would like to find a stranding network closer to where you live, click here.



*Please note:
Every stranding network requires their own unique training -
attending a Seal Sitters MMSN training does not qualify you to volunteer for networks in a differing location.

Unlike most marine mammal stranding networks, we encourage children to participate in Seal Sitters - supervised at all times, of course, by a parent or guardian. We are so proud of our amazing and dedicated volunteers who are on duty rain or shine - we hope you will join us!

A multi-media presentation will illustrate our educational work in the community and the unique challenges of protecting seals and other marine mammals in an urban environment. Included in the training is an overview of NOAA's West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network and biology and behavior of seals and other pinnipeds (due to time frame, supplementary sessions will include more marine mammals of Puget Sound).

WHEN:
MONDAY, MAY 23, 2016
TIME:
6:30pm - 8:30pm (doors open at 6:15pm, training starts promptly at 6:30)
*please arrive early to receive paperwork

WHERE:
ALKI UCC
(*there is no church affiliation with Seal Sitters MMSN)
front meeting room
6115 SW Hinds St
West Seattle (map it here)

RSVP required to attend. (*please include full name and name/ages of children)

*PARENTS PLEASE NOTE: all children in attendance must be able to sit quietly through an approximate 2 hour training session with a short break.

For additional questions and info or to be placed on a contact list for future training opportunities, please email us.

Gray whale confirmed dead in Puget Sound

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Yesterday, Seal Sitters volunteers again contributed to the efforts to monitor the struggling gray whale, which had been floating in Central and South Puget Sound for 15 days. The whale was unable to dive.

Based on a report to OrcaNet and from other members of the marine mammal stranding network, SSMMSN first responders sighted the gray at the entrance to Elliott Bay and tracked the emaciated whale’s movements throughout the afternoon, as it drifted slowly in the currents between West Seattle and Magnolia’s Elliott Bay Marina. Our observations led to a firm belief that the whale had died, as we could see no blows during our lengthy observation.

A number of pleasure craft and tour boats violated the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) by approaching the whale within mere yards. This, long before official confirmation of the animal’s death. The MMPA law requires a minimum distance of 100 yards from whales. Yesterday’s photos of those vessels in violation are being forwarded to NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement.

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As the current drew the whale closer into the very busy shipping lane, it was narrowly missed being struck by tug boats towing barges, container ships and the Washington State Ferries.

Late in the afternoon, a US Coast Guard boat on the water confirmed that the whale was deceased. Because the flukes and pectoral fins are so low beneath the surface, they are not accessible at this time to secure a tow line and enable a necropsy.

Should you spy the whale, please continue to report sightings in a timely manner to OrcaNet’s email so that the stranding network is aware of the location.

If the animal is sighted along the West Seattle shoreline, please contact our hotline as well at 206-905-SEAL (7325).

This has truly been a team effort of the stranding network groups and the public of Puget Sound. Learn more about the work of NOAA’s West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network here.

UPDATE: MAY 12, 2016
A necropsy was performed by Cascadia Research with assistance from the Navy, WDFW, NOAA, and the Pt. Townsend Marine Science Center. Due to trauma or illness (as of yet undetermined), gases were trapped in the organs of the whale which prevented the almost 30 ft female juvenile from diving and foraging. The whale was emaciated. Tissue samples have been sent out for tests. For more info and photos, please click here.
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