Gray Whale spotted off Lincoln Park


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West Seattle photographer (and Herald contributor) Steve Shelton whose images as a photographer have appeared in magazines and newspapers worldwide was out walking his dog in Lincoln Park on May 15 and as luck would have it, only had his iPhone when he spotted an amazing sight around 7pm. Others saw it too. Here's his story.

By Steve Shelton

Last time I checked there was no volcanic activity between Colman Pool and Lowman Beach. And underwater geysers have yet to be reported in the 40+ years I've been in this neighborhood.

So what was I to think when a spout of water some 30 feet high erupts 50 yards off shore accompanied by the sound of gushing water? Then as fast as the sound appeared it was silenced as the source slid back into the sea.

I was alarmed, but exhilarated at the same time. Something very special just happened. But I caught only a glimpse.

This was no seal. No otter. And no little fish. But so close to the water's edge. I was thinking, "What on earth?"

I stood on a park bench to get a better view of the wave pattern now coming my way. Like independent pools within a greater Puget Sound, I could see water being displaced at a predictable rate by an unknown current just feet below the water's surface.

The pools were getting bigger as they got closer; the rip of the current became more pronounced.

Then, a defining moment. The unmistakable black back, rhythmically, effortlessly--and with unearthly grace-- breaks the water's surface just in front of me followed by a dorsal fin and magnificent tale. Hollywood couldn't make a scene so serene, so real.

The tale dipped down just in front of Colman Pool and again, the pools of displaced water appeared. I jumped off the bench and ran past the pool along the black asphalt hoping to see that tale just one more time. I was immune to the misting rain.

The grey whale didn't disappoint.

As if to say goodbye, in another 100 yards, the back again rolled out of the water followed by the enormous tale lifting skyward for perhaps two seconds--and was gone.

My iPhone was pathetically inadequate to document the scene. But I thought if I didn't at least try a few seconds of video nobody would believe me.

And just hours before I was cursing the rain as I cut the grass wondering why I live in this place.

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