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Year of the Seal

Harbor Seal Day video now online

“Harbor Seal Day” held on September 8th was a day of celebration and the culmination of Seal Sitters’ Year of the Seal: Sentinels of the Sound project. In case you could not attend the dedication event for Georgia Gerber’s beautiful bronze sculpture “Sentinels of the Sound”, watch the video below for the complete ceremony. Special thanks to John Larson and Melinda Simon of Gypsy Soul Productions for videotaping the event!

"Harbor Seal Day" a resounding success and helps raise awareness

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An estimated 300 people took part in the festivities on “Harbor Seal Day” Sunday afternoon, as Seal Sitters hosted an event celebrating the dedication of Georgia Gerber’s “Sentinels of the Sound” sculpture of a harbor seal mom and pup.

The Alki Bathhouse was filled to the brim with educational exhibits and children creating jellyfish, seal puppets and other cool sea creatures. Shown at right is one of Seal Sitters’ first responders and talented artist Lynn Shimamoto (with her 6 year old grandaughter) in the puppet show booth she created for kids to enjoy. Just outside, lots of folks had fun posing for photos, poking their heads through the painted underwater scene (check back for a gallery of submitted photos - email your photo of the puppet show or underwater scene here).

For Art and Story contest winners and the great donated prizes the kids won, please click here.

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FLIPPER HUGS TO OUR HARD-WORKING VOLUNTEERS
Many, many hours were devoted to the day’s event and many thanks to all of the awesome volunteers who helped out in the weeks before the event, designing posters and displays, craft projects for children, posting flyers and getting word out to the media. And to those who helped out Sunday, picking up the many specialty cakes, setting up (and breaking down) chairs, stages, tables, artwork, helping exhibitors - all the tasks that go into pulling off a major event. Everyone who helped deserves huge kudos! Core team members who contributed countless hours to “Harbor Seal Day” event planning were JoDean Edelheit, David and Eilene Hutchinson, Lynn Shimamoto, Lars Halstrom, Larry Carpenter, Karin Cumming, Candace Sullivan and Robin Lindsey.

Special thanks as well to Chas Redmond and Tony Fragada who donated their time to provide professional sound for the event.

FLIPPER HUGS TO OUR FANTASTIC EXHIBITORS
Our outstanding exhibitors included the WA Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Mammal Investigations, Seattle Aquarium, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, The Whale Trail, NOAA Marine Debris Division, Tox-ick, NOAA Marine Mammal Stranding Network and Sno-King Marine Mammal Response, PAWS Wildlife Center (with a fascinating inside look at seal pup rehabilitation), Killer Whale Tales, Soundside Marinelife Rescue. Huge thanks to all of you who donated your Sunday afternoon to help us celebrate and educate the public! So many people remarked how wonderful the exhibits were and how much information they gleaned from those staffing the tables.

FLIPPER HUGS TO OUR PRIZE DONORS AND BUSINESS PROMOTIONS
Local businesses generously donated great prizes to help Seal Sitters raise money to fund our on-going operating expenses, including dedicated hotline costs, webhosting fees, and stranding and educational materials. Donors included Alki Kayak, Mountain to Sound Outfitters, Phoenecia Restaurant, NW Art and Frame, Bakery Nouveau, Sunfish Seafood Restaurant and Saigon Boat Cafe.

Spud Fish and Chips, Bamboo Bar and Grill, Subway on Alki and Hotwire Coffee ran special promotions to benefit Seal Sitters.

QFC Bakery on 42nd Ave SW and Baked Seattle donated specialty cakes for the event. West Seattle Thriftway and Seattle Costco donated gift cards used for food for volunteers and exhibitors. Saigon Boat Cafe provided delicious sandwiches for hungry volunteers, too. Starbucks on Alki donated coffee to keep us going for the day.

Great prizes were donated to the winners of the children’s Art & Story contest (see post here) by The Seattle Aquarium, Woodland Park Zoo, Northwest Art and Frame, Slices, Young at Art, and MacMillan Publishing Group ( Leopard and Silkie and Seal Pup Rescue).

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FLIPPER HUGS TO OUR GUEST SPEAKERS
Master of Ceremonies Jim Dever (of Evening Magazine fame) was the perfect “host” for our dedication ceremony. His witty interlude with young Seal Sitters was a highlight of the program. Kid vols Etienne, Elizabeth and Louisa answered questions with great poise and authority.

We were honored to have Ken Workman (great-great-great-great grandson of Chief Sealth) of the Duwamish give a welcoming message. National Geographic author and co-founder of Seal Sitters Brenda Peterson gave an engaging overview of our work. Many thanks to Department of Neighborhoods’ Bernie Matsuno and State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon for respectively reading Mayor McGinn and Governor Jay Inslee’s “Harbor Seal Day” proclamations.

HUMONGOUS FLIPPER HUGS TO ARTIST GEORGIA GERBER
Georgia’s stunning work, “Sentinels of the Sound”, will grace Alki Beach for many, many years to come and raise public awareness of the need to share the shore with all wildlife. We cannot begin to express our gratitude.

Click here to download the “Harbor Seal Day” Program listing all participants and acknowledgements.

MEDIA COVERAGE
Both the West Seattle Herald and the West Seattle Blog gave the event generous coverage in weeks leading up to and day of the event. Thanks to Patrick Robinson (WS Herald) and Tracy Record (WS Blog) for your on-going support! Please visit their links below.

West Seattle Herald (article and slideshow)

West Seattle Blog (photos and video)

Countdown to "Harbor Seal Day" - win great raffle prizes!

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Seal Sitters volunteers are busy tying up loose ends for tomorrow afternoon’s highly anticipated public event, “Harbor Seal Day”, at the Alki Bathhouse. Cakes have been picked up, videos tweaked, programs are printed. It will be a busy morning as volunteers will be at the sculpture site early, sweeping the installation and dusting the “Sentinels of the Sound”. The sculpture dedication ceremony will be held at 1:30.

The culmination of our “Year of the Seal” educational outreach project, the Bathhouse will be open from 1-4pm and will be filled with marine-related environmental groups.There will be crafts for kids - even a puppet show booth. Groove to the smooth sounds of “Seals Love Jazz Quintet”, led by Sno-King Marine Mammal Response’s very own lead investigator, Rachel Mayer.

Local businesses have donated some great raffle prizes, among those are restaurant gift certificates and a sunset kayak tour for 2 by Alki Kayak. Bamboo Bar and Grill, Spud Fish and Chips and Subway along Alki Ave are having food promotions tomorrow (Spud’s special is today AND tomorrow) and will be making donations to Seal Sitters based on sales. For a list of the super raffle prizes (tickets only $1) and promotions, click here.

We hope to see you there!

Buy a chowder this weekend and help seal pup Spud's buds

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In 2007, a tiny seal pup flopped ashore on Alki Beach almost directly across from Spud Fish and Chips (2666 Alki Ave SW). Concerned residents banded together to protect this vulnerable pup and nicknamed him Spud. This loosely formed group grew to be known as Seal Sitters.

Now a full-fledged marine mammal stranding network with many operating expenses, Spud Fish and Chips on Alki is helping Seal Sitters continue to help new generations of seal pups.

The restaurant is offering a promotion that will donate $1 for every chowder purchase this weekend to celebrate our “Harbor Seal Day” educational event and sculpture dedication. Spread the word to friends and family to chow down on some delicious chowder. Thanks so much to Spud Fish and Chips!





Sentinels of the Sound sculpture finally hauls out on Alki Beach

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Early Thursday morning, prominent NW sculptor Georgia Gerber, Randy Hudson (husband and fellow artist) and Virginia Keck (decades-long assistant) made the long trek from Whidbey Island with the “Sentinels of the Sound” sculpture carefully secured in the back of their pickup. Arriving at Alki Beach at 6:30am, they were met by several Seal Sitters volunteers, eager to help with the installation of the long-awaited sculpture.

Several hours later, after precise measurements and boring of holes, the sculpture was bolted and cemented into place onto the rock especially designed to support it, courtesy of the artistry of Turnstone Construction. The work is the culmination of Seal Sitters’ Year of the Seal educational outreach project.

4-year-old Max was the very first person to pose for a photo op with the newly installed piece - and a steady stream of admirers, young and old, has followed suit throughout the weekend.

A dedication ceremony will take place on “Harbor Seal Day”, September 8th at 1:30 at the installation site just north of the Alki Bathhouse (2701 Alki Ave SW). The public will have an opportunity to meet and thank Georgia for this stunning work of art. The Bathhouse will be open from 1-4pm, featuring environmental groups and children’s activities.

Check back for a video of the installation of the sculpture.

Kids' Art and Story contest deadline extended

In order to allow more children to participate, the deadline for Seal Sitters’ Art and Story contest deadline has been extended to August 25th. Prizes will be awarded on Sunday afternoon, September 8th at our “Harbor Seal Day” sculpture dedication and educational outreach event at Alki Beach. All entries will be on display at the Alki Bathhouse. Read more about the contest and rules here.

In addition to educational outreach booths for both adults and children, there will be activities for kids at Harbor Seal Day, including face painting, a puppet show booth and art crafts.

"Sentinels of the Sound" sculpture nears completion

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At her studio on Whidbey Island, artist Georgia Gerber is putting the finishing touches on Seal Sitters’ commissioned bronze sculpture of a harbor seal mom and pup. Due for installation mid-late August, “Sentinels of the Sound” has been welded and burnished and only awaits a patina finish and a new home at Alki Beach. The natural rock setting near the Alki Bathhouse has already been completed by Turnstone Construction.

Join us for the dedication of the sculpture and educational event on “Harbor Seal Day”, Sunday, September 8th from 1-4pm. The artwork is the centerpiece of our Year of the Seal community outreach project.

"Sentinels of the Sound" beach cleanup in honor of seal pup Sandy

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Make a difference and join us to remove litter from Alki Beach on Saturday, August 3rd. Seal Sitters' Year of the Seal: Sentinels of the Sound project is intended to raise awareness of the impact that humans have on our fragile marine ecosystem (to follow progress of our YOS project on blubberblog, click here).

Harbor seals (who do not migrate and are year-round residents) and orcas, both animals at the top of the food chain, are especially hard hit by pollutants from storm runoff and microplastics which are stored in their blubber. A 2005 study showed that harbor seals of South Puget Sound were 7 times more contaminated with PCBs than those of Canada's Georgia Strait. The orcas of Puget Sound are the most contaminated marine mammals in the world.

All marine life is endangered by marine debris and pollution. Many, many thousands of marine animals and sea birds die each year from derelict fishing gear, marine debris and pollution. They are entangled and drowned by nets and gear. Strangled and contaminated by plastics.

This year's beach cleanup events will once again be in honor of seal pup Sandy who was rescued from a West Seattle beach in August of 2011, rehabilitated at PAWS Wildlife Center, and then released back to the wild in January of 2012. Sandy was fitted with a satellite tag (glued to her fur which would be shed when she molted) to monitor her success in the wild and provide valuable data to biologists about foraging patterns of rehabbed seals. Sixty-six days later, Sandy was found dead, entangled in derlict fishing line off the Edmonds Pier. Read more about Sandy.

Sandy has truly put a face on pollution. Trash on the beach becomes treacherous in the water. You can make a difference! Help keep our beaches clean and our sea life safe.
Read more about marine pollution here.

We would also like to honor the memory of the Arroyos gray whale who stranded and died in 2010. The
necropsy revealed that there was no food in the thin juvenile male's stomach - only human trash.

Seal Sitters, along with co-sponsors Alki Community Council and Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, will hold a cleanup of West Seattle's Alki Beach on Saturday, August 3 from 9am-noon. We will assemble at Alki's Statue of Liberty plaza (61st Ave SW and Alki Ave SW). Please RSVP for this event so we have enough bags and equipment on hand.

Read about last year's event
here.

Seattle Mayor McGinn declares September 8 "Harbor Seal Day"

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At the request of Seal Sitters MMSN, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has declared September 8th “Harbor Seal Day”. Included in the proclamation is the text:

WHEREAS, Harbor seals are critical to our marine environment because they do not migrate and are considered by biologists to be an indicator species of the health of our waters; and

WHEREAS, Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network, the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, and the West Seattle community have joined together to place a seal mom and pup sculpture, “Sentinels of the Sound,” on Alki Beach; and

WHEREAS, the unveiling of this sculpture will raise public awareness of the need to “share the shore” with wildlife, protect marine mammals, and reduce pollution in our marine environment,

NOW, therefore, I Mike McGinn, Mayor of the City of Seattle, do hereby proclaim September 8, 2013 to be HARBOR SEAL DAY


View the full proclamation here. Thanks so much to the Mayor for helping to raise awareness about our fragile marine ecosystem! Please join us on “Harbor Seal Day” for our sculpture dedication and educational outreach event, Sunday September 8th from 1-4pm at the Alki Bathhouse site.

Call to kids to enter art and story contest

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UPDATE: Deadline for entries has been extended to August 25th.

Seal Sitters, as part of our Year of the Seal project, is reaching out to children, encouraging them to become involved in protecting marine mammals and help keep our waters free of trash.

In celebration of the “Sentinels of the Sound” sculpture, we are sponsoring an art and story contest, open to all Seattle-area children grades K-5. We ask kids to imagine, through words and/or art media, the story of seal pup Spud (the name of our very first pup that came ashore in 2007), depicted in the sculpture with his mom (be on the lookout for the upcoming contest to name the mother seal). Ideas can include: Where did Spud and his mom travel from? What do they see swimming together? What adventures has Spud had along the way? Where does Spud sleep? Anything about seal pups that might spark a child’s imagination is perfect for this contest! Too young to write? While we look forward to seeing written entries in a kid’s handwriting, stories can be transcribed by an adult - we want everyone to be able to weave tales about Spud and his mom! For photos of the sculpture, click here.

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Written stories will be judged by a panel of writers led by noted National Geographic author (and Seal Sitters co-founder) Brenda Peterson. The artwork will be judged by a panel of artists.

All entries will be displayed at our “Harbor Seal Day” celebration and dedication on Sunday, September 8th from 1-4pm at the Alki Bathhouse. Winners will be recognized at the event and prizes awarded. Selected entries will also be displayed on our websites.

Entries for the contest must be received by August 25th. Please read the size limitations and other rules here. Drop off locations for entries are Alki Mail and Dispatch, Alki Arts (Alki beach location) and NW Art and Frame (4733 California Ave Sw). Thanks so much to these generous businesses for participating! Entries can also be mailed to: Seal Sitters, 4701 SW Admiral Way #224, Seattle, 98116. Email us if you have any questions.

We look forward to seeing what creative visions our kids have!

Sentinels of the Sound sculpture cast and welded

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Seal Sitters is excited to report that the Georgia Gerber commissioned sculpture has moved one step closer to completion at her studio on Whidbey Island. The bronze sections of the harbor seal mom and pup were welded together on Wednesday. The work will be installed in mid to late-August near the Alki Bathhouse.

A celebration event will be held on Sunday, September 8th, “Harbor Seal Day”, from 1-4pm with music, activities for children, environmental exhibitors and a ribbon cutting and short dedication ceremony. The “Sentinels of the Sound” sculpture is the centerpiece of Seal Sitters’ Year of the Seal educational project designed to raise awareness about our fragile marine ecosystem.

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Georgia (left) and long-time studio assistant Virginia Keck pose with the sculpture after a long day of fitting and welding pieces into place. The next step in the time-consuming process is to fill the seams, do a final burnish and then apply a patina to the bronze. As Georgia says, the sculpture will develop its own unique finish over the years from all the love pats it will receive from the public.

Site preparation and fabrication by Turnstone Construction will begin early on Monday, July 8th, for approximately 7 - 10 days. Please check back for updates as the site begins to take shape.

Pieces come together for Year of the Seal educational project

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The commissioned Georgia Gerber sculpture of a harbor seal mom and pup reached an important milestone recently - liquid bronze was poured into more than a dozen molds that will make up the life-size piece to reside at Alki Beach.

The lost wax process that has been used by sculptors for thousands of years (the oldest sample is dated 5, 000 years ago from India) is a complex and time intensive endeavor. Shown here is the face of the seal pup after it had been removed from its plaster cast, pressure washed and edges burnished by a studio assistant. The many pieces are to be assembled and welded together next week and will replicate the original clay forms created by the artist. We will be posting updates as each step is completed.

Turnstone Construction (renowned for exhibits in many zoos and facilities, including the Woodland Park Zoo penguin exhibit) will be fabricating a natural rock formation at the sculpture site next to the Bathhouse. Seal Sitters is thrilled that artists of the stature of both Georgia and Turnstone are participating in this project. And, of course, without the support of the West Seattle community, Department of Neighborhoods and Seattle Parks our Year of the Seal: Sentinels of the Sound educational outreach project could not have been realized. The sculpture will be dedicated at Seal Sitters’ Harbor Seal Day event on September 8th.

Seal Ambassador drive launches at Alki Summer Streets

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On Sunday, the streets along Alki Beach were closed to motorized vehicles for a 5K run and, afterwards, people were dancing to live music, strolling along the boulevard and checking out the booths of educational groups and vendors. The festive party lasted until 5pm.

Seal Sitters’ volunteers staffed a booth at the event and launched our “Seal Ambassador” drive, asking local kids to take a pledge to protect our marine environment. Harrison and Annabelle (shown here), students at Schmitz Park Elementary School, are our very first Ambassadors. Thanks to both of them and the additional 33 kids who took the pledge on Sunday! If you’d like to be one of Spud’s Seal Ambassadors, email us here.

178 people stopped by the booth throughout the day, learning about seals and other marine mammals, NOAA’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network, and Seal Sitters’ Year of the Seal (YOS) educational outreach project and harbor seal mom and pup sculpture. Our very talented illustrator Lynn created life-size chalk sketches on the street of a gray whale and swimming seal mom and pup, which were a big hit with the public. A table was set up next to our booth, where children colored drawings Lynn created - drawings showing what does and doesn’t belong on the beach and in the water, part of our YOS project to show the devastating impact that trash and pollution have on marine life. Flipper hugs to our enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers for spending their day doing outreach and helping marine wildlife!

GiveBIG a success for seals and other marine mammals

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Flipper hugs and a special thank you to all the volunteers and friends of Seal Sitters that donated to us through GiveBIG. We are very pleased to announce that we raised $2,998.50 on Wednesday.

These new donations will help greatly in our goal to finance the installation of the Georgia Gerber bronze sculpture of a mother seal and her pup - and to fund the educational components of the Year of the Seal project, including the unveiling ceremony and celebration event at Alki Beach on September 8th. We still have quite a ways to go to meet our financial needs for the project, but this is a fantastic start!

We will continue to seek additional funds throughout the year to meet our funding needs. Donations can always be made through the blog and website.

Thanks so much for making this sculpture dream become a reality! Find out more about our Year of the Seal educational outreach project.

Give BIG to Seal Sitters on May 15th

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Mark your calendar and plan now to donate online through GiveBIG on Wednesday, May 15th.

Please support Seal Sitters through The Seattle Foundation's GiveBIG, a one-day, online charitable giving event inspiring people to give to nonprofit organizations in our region. Your donation will be partially matched by The Seattle Foundation. This is an easy way to make your donation dollars multiply.

YOU COULD WIN A GOLDEN TICKET!
If your donation is chosen by The Seattle Foundation in a random drawing of 10 lucky winners, you and Seal Sitters will further benefit. Seal Sitters will then receive an additional $1,000 donation and a round trip ticket courtesy of Alaska Airlines. And, as a Golden Ticket winner, you will receive a $100 gift card, courtesy of Starbucks!

IT'S EASY TO DONATE!
Click this link to participate in GiveBIG. PLEASE NOTE! The GiveBIG link is only active on May 15th!

On May 15th, this link will take you to the page for Associated Recreational Council which is our fiscal sponsor. Click on DONATE and then fill in your financial and personal information. In the "Comments" box you must type in Seal Sitters. Then we will be credited with your donation. This is extremely important! If you do not type in Seal Sitters, your donation will go to ARC's general funds and Seal Sitters will not receive your donation.

TELL YOUR FRIENDS!
Please also spread the word to your family, friends, and business contacts by sending this post to them, encouraging a donation to Seal Sitters on May 15th. Anyone can donate through this GiveBig program.

Seal Sitters MMSN receives no funding from NOAA, the State or City for the work we do. Funds are needed for our dedicated hotline, website hosting, stranding materials, educational outreach and gas reimbursement. Some funds may be used for our Year of the Seal project.

If you have any questions, please email JoDean Edelheit.

Year of the Seal sculpture and educational projects on track

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Seal Sitters’ Year of the Seal educational outreach project is moving forward at a good pace. The centerpiece of the project is a bronze sculpture to be installed at Alki Beach. Prominent Northwest artist Georgia Gerber has made tremendous progress on the full-scale piece. She is shown modeling the harbor seal mom and pup out of a special supple clay that does not harden, allowing her to work over an extended period of time. The sculpture will be cast in bronze at Georgia’s own Whidbey Island foundry.

The intent of the sculpture is to raise awareness about the health of our marine ecosystem. Harbor seals, who live year round in our waters, are a sentinel species for the Salish Sea. Dangerous toxins in Puget Sound are stored in the blubber of marine mammals such as seals and cetaceans. The sculpture will remind people not only to Share the Shore with wildlife, but to make conscious choices to help clean up our waterways. The sculpture will be in place during the height of harbor seal pupping season in West Seattle. Seal Sitters volunteers will have the opportunity to have this dialogue with literally thousands of people while protecting pups on our beaches.

Another exciting facet to the project is the educational outreach to elementary schools due to begin in May. Seal Sitters will be talking to young children about ways they can truly make a difference for the marine environment. A few of the simple ways kids (and all of us) can help? First of all, don’t litter. Litter on the ground miles away from Puget Sound can end up in it by way of wind, storm drains and streams. Pick up litter on the street and beach - a glass bottle lasts 1million years. A styrofoam cup, 500 years. Don’t use balloons or “sky” candle lanterns to celebrate a birthday. What goes up truly must come down, often into the water. Beautiful flying candle lanterns are simply ugly trash when they land. Even if the package says “biodegradable” that process takes many, many years. Tragically, balloons in the water are often mistaken for jellyfish and swallowed by marine mammals and sea turtles, causing suffocation. We’ll offer kids positive and empowering ways to help protect and preserve our marine life for generations to come. Learn more about marine pollution here.

Seal Sitters needs to fundraise thousands of dollars to supplement our Department of Neighborhoods grant for the sculpture phase of the project. These dollars will be used for site preparation, landscape materials and installation. The Year of the Seal sculpture will be dedicated at a celebration event on September 8th. Also highlighted at the event will be children’s essays and artworks inspired by the project, environmental groups with outreach tables, speakers and fun, interactive stuff for kids - more info to come. Please click here to make a donation.

A public meeting will be held on Monday, May 13th from 7-8pm at the Alki Bathhouse to present the project to the community. Please attend. We welcome your input!

Year of the Seal kickoff event a success

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Seal Sitters’ Year of the Seal kickoff event, held Saturday at the Alki Bathhouse, was a huge success. About 50 volunteers heard marine mammal biologists Jessie Huggins (Cascadia Research) and Dyanna Lambourn (WA Dept of Fish and Wildlife) speak about the health of marine mammals in Puget Sound. These two highly respected women (shown at left performing the necropsy on juvenile orca L-112/Sooke) are imminent researchers into the devastating impacts of contaminants and marine debris on harbor seals and cetaceans and ship strike dangers for large whales. Thanks to The Whale Trail’s Donna Sandstrom and Tox-ick founder Laura James who also participated in the event, sharing information about their environmental work.

The Year of the Seal educational outreach project is intended to raise awareness of human impact on our fragile marine ecosystem - and that one person truly can make a difference by the choices we make regarding litter and plastics, pesticides and fertilizers. Click here to learn more about the project and sculpture by Northwest artist Georgia Gerber. Thanks to the volunteers at the event who made a donation to help us raise funds for the landscape and installation phase of the sculpture project.

Huge thanks to Dyanna and Jessie for giving up their Saturday to educate our volunteers who were fascinated by this glimpse into the world of marine mammal “CSI”. The funding for research into emerging diseases, contaminants and methods to help alter the deadly collision course of whales and shipping vessels is largely made possible by the John H. Prescott Fund, which has been eliminated from the proposed 2014 Federal buget. For more information and links to contact your congressional representatives asking to reinstate Prescott funding, click here.

Georgia Gerber selected as sculpture artist for Year of the Seal

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Seal Sitters is pleased to announce that our Year of the Seal project’s sculpture component has moved forward with the selection of an artist. A 10-member Selection Committee unanimously selected Georgia Gerber, well-known Pacific Northwest artist, to create a bronze sculpture of a harbor seal mother and pup to be installed on Alki Beach. The panel included members of the West Seattle community (Vice-President of the Alki Community Council, Arts Liaison for Seattle Parks, a respected art gallery owner and a successful local artist) and Seal Sitters representatives. We thank all of the very talented artists who applied for this project.

Seal Sitters is excited that an artist of Georgia’s stature will be creating this work. Georgia has many public installations in the Northwest, including the much-loved bronzes Rachel the Pig at Pike’s Market and the Lowland Gorilla Family at Woodland Park Zoo. Many of her singular works show the intimate relationship of two or more animals and evoke an undeniable emotional response from the viewer. Georgia says, “I like my sculpture to invite an interaction with its audience. This is often meant to be a direct physical interaction, but always I strive to engage the viewer's imagination. I tend to present an incomplete visual narrative; a story is suggested, a feeling evoked, and the viewers find themselves providing details." You can view Georgia’s beautiful work here. A community meeting will be scheduled soon to introduce the project and artist to the public. (photo courtesy of the artist)

The bronze sculpture will culminate our educational outreach project, Year of the Seal. The harbor seal is considered by biologists to be an indicator species for the health of our waters. The sculpture will represent all marine life and is intended to raise awareness of our fragile marine ecosystem and serve as a reminder to Share the Shore with wildlife. Click here to learn more about the project (including children’s art and essay contest) and the role harbor seals play as a sentinel species.

A VERY SAD NOTE:
We are terribly saddened to report that Glenn Brewer, a highly respected artist who was one of our selection committee panelists, passed away Wednesday evening. This gentle man was unfailingly generous and positive. It was our privilege to have had his input on this project. Our thoughts go out to Glenn’s family and friends.

Call to Artists for Year of the Seal sculpture project

Seal Sitters has formally released a Call to Artists (Request for Qualifications) for our Year of the Seal sculpture of a harbor seal mom and pup which will be located on Alki Beach. The installation site near the Aki Bathhouse has been approved by Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation. A public meeting will be scheduled to receive input from the community.

Call to Artists (Request for Qualifications)
If you are an artist who works in bronze and have a proven track record of public art installations, please download the application here. The deadline for entry is March 22, 2013 and chosen artist will be notified March 26th. Target installation date is the end of August with Harbor Seal Day celebration and dedication on September 7th.

The winners of the children's essay and art contest will be featured on Seal Sitters' website and blog (and other media) and will be recognized at the celebration event.

The Department of Neighborhoods grant project will serve to remind us that ours is a fragile ecosystem. It will raise community consciousness about the importance of protecting our marine environment - and that of all marine life, including shorebirds, that call Puget Sound home. It will provide a unique educational message that our urban shores are home to many other species - and a reminder to “Share the Shore” with wildlife. Learn more about the Year of the Seal educational outreach project here.

Bevy of pups make for a happy ending to year

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Seal Sitters ended 2012 with a throng of seals, most of them looking healthy and happy, hanging around Elliott Bay. We had 8 seals of differing ages using the piers and shoreline of Jack Block Park yesterday.

Volunteers continue to closely monitor the activity and educate the public. It has been a unique opportunity for everyone to see these marine mammals in all their beauty so close. With the holiday break, lots of parents with children have been excited to see “baby seals” and dog owners have been very respectful of their presence. One can observe seals interacting with each other and hauling out and thermoregulating (photo above) on the rocks and beach below the tower. People can see firsthand, too, that seals have markings on their coats unique to individuals; this enables Seal Sitters’ first responders to identify them for our database and health assessments.

After a tough seal pup season in late summer and fall with too many emaciated pups and higher mortality rate, this wave of perky pinnipeds has been a thrill for all of us.

Seal Sitters wants to thank our dedicated volunteers for their many hours of participation in 2012 - and heartfelt thanks to those who made generous year-end donations to help defray our operating expenses. We wish our amazing volunteers and the public a happy new year beyond your wildest dreams.

Seal Sitters has begun the process for implementing our 2013: Year of the Seal educational outreach project, culminated by the installation in West Seattle of a bronze sculpture of a harbor seal mom and pup. A children’s essay and art contest is a highlight of the project.

Seal Sitters awarded matching fund grant

Seal Sitters is elated to announce that we have been awarded a Department of Neighborhood (DON) grant for our proposed educational outreach project, 2013: The Year of the Seal. The Neighborhood Matching Fund program awards are “matched” by volunteer labor, donated materials, donated professional services or cash. Seal Sitters volunteers will be donating many, many hours to this project, far exceeding the required match in volunteer hours, but will need to fundraise additional monies. Community involvement and mobilization will include art and essay participation by local students, culminated with the installation of a bronze sculpture of a mother seal and pup.

The most abundant marine mammals in Puget Sound, harbor seals are the ones the general public is most likely to encounter on our shores. Seal Sitters uses the image of a harbor seal pup as the “ambassador” for the marine life of Elliott Bay and Puget Sound. Harbor seals do not migrate and are year-round residents of our Salish Sea. They are considered by biologists to be an indicator species of the health of our waters. In fact, a 2005 study showed that the harbor seals of South Puget Sound were 7 times more contaminated with pollutants than those in Canada’s nearby Strait of Georgia (read more about the effects of marine pollution on our website). We, therefore, consider this species to represent the concerns we all have for preserving our natural world.

This outreach project will serve to remind us that ours is a fragile ecosystem. It will raise community consciousness about the importance of protecting our marine environment - and that of all marine life, including shorebirds, that call Puget Sound home. It will provide a unique educational message that our urban shores are home to many other species - and a reminder to “Share the Shore” with wildlife.

This will be the third DON grant awarded to Seal Sitters for educational outreach projects, including a public service announcement, street banners which are displayed along Alki Avenue during pupping season and informational beach signage. Read about these earlier accomplishments here. Thanks to DON for such amazing support and belief in our projects.

None of the funds from these matching fund grants cover Seal Sitters’ operating expenses. We receive no funding from NOAA, the State or the City of Seattle for our on-going expenses, such as dedicated hotline, web and blog costs, gas for first responders and stranding, training and educational materials. If you would like to donate to help defray these costs, please click here.

Seal Sitters is currently in conversations with Seattle Parks regarding details of the project. We should be able to give a full report on the project in the next couple of weeks.
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