Seal Sitters was awarded a Department of Neighborhoods (DON) grant for our educational outreach project, The Year of the Seal: Sentinels of the Sound. The Neighborhood Matching Fund program awards require a “match” by volunteer labor, donated materials, donated professional services or cash. Seal Sitters volunteers donated many, many hours to this project, exceeding the required match in volunteer hours, but needed to fundraise additional monies.

Community involvement and mobilization included art and essay participation by local elementary students and development of educational resources. The project culminated with the installation at Alki Beach of a bronze sculpture depicting a mother harbor seal and her 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 about the effects of marine pollution here). This marine mammal species serves to represent the concerns we all have for preserving our natural world.

The intent of the Year of the Seal: Sentinels of the Sound outreach project was to remind us that ours is a fragile ecosystem. It raised community consciousness about the importance of protecting our marine environment - and that of all marine life, including shorebirds, that call Puget Sound home. The project provided a unique educational message that our urban shores are home to many other species - and a reminder to “Share the Shore” with wildlife.

This is 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 on blubberblog. Thanks to Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods for such amazing support and belief in our projects.

The winners of the children's story and art contest were featured on Seal Sitters' Blubberblog (and other media) and were recognized at the dedication event. Prizes were awarded. The contest was open to all children in the Seattle area, grades k-5.

The story contest was be judged by a panel of writers led by Seal Sitters' co-founder and National Geographic author Brenda Peterson.

Please check blubberblog's many on-going posts with updates on the YOS project here.


Exhibitors 1-4pm, Dedication Ceremony 1:30pm
Alki Bathhouse

An estimated 300 people took part in the festivities on “Harbor Seal Day" 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. Kids enjoyed a specially created puppet show booth and lots of folks had fun posing for photos, poking their heads through the painted underwater scene.

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

Environmental groups with outreach tables included NOAA Marine Debris Division, NW Marine Mammal Stranding Network, PAWS Wildlife Center, The Whale Trail, Killer Whale Tales, Seal Sitters, Sno-King Marine Mammal Response, WDFW Marine Mammal Investigations Unit, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, Tox-ick, Soundside Marine Life Rescue Center and the Seattle Aquarium.

Many thanks to speakers Ken Workman of the Duwamish Tribe, Bernie Matsuno of City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, Seal Sitters' own renowned nature writer Brenda Peterson and Master of Ceremonies Jim Dever of Evening Magazine. Read Governor Jay Inslee and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn's proclamations designating September 8, 2013, "Harbor Seal Day" across the state of Washington.

To read more about the day's festivities and local businesses who made valuable contributions, please click here. Check blubberblog's many on-going posts on the Year of the Seal:Sentinels of the Sound project here.

Watch the full ceremony by clicking on the video below. Special thanks to John Larson and Melinda Simon of Gypsy Soul Productions for videotaping "Harbor Seal Day"

Click on the video below and watch as artist Georgia Gerber creates the bronze sculpture from conception to installation.

Seal Sitters is excited that an artist of Georgia Gerber’s stature has created this sculpture, shown working on the clay model in her Whidbey Island studio. 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.

The bronze piece was cast in the foundry on her island property. The "Sentinels of the Sound" sculpture was installed in late August on a specially fabricated rock at the Alki Beach site, with the dedication event to be held on September 8th. Please check blubberblog's many on-going posts with updates on our Year of the Seal project here.

Seal Sitters posted a Call to Artists on a number of City of Seattle and Washington and Oregon arts organizations' websites to attract applicants for the sculpture phase of the project. 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.

The installation site for the sculpture was approved by Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation since it will be on their property. The sculpture will reside near the Alki Bathhouse. A public meeting to receive input from the community was held on May 13th at the Alki Bathhouse.
Turnstone Construction completed fabrication of the installation site. Turnstone, located in Redmond, WA, is well-known for its many residential and commercial projects, including the fabrication of the penguin exhibit at Woodland Park Zoo. Rocks were fabricated off-site and placed at the location to support the sculpture and provide a natural setting that is in keeping with the Puget Sound environment. The sculpture was installed on August 23rd.
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In 2015, Seal Sitters hosted "Flipper Fest", an educational outreach event at the Alki Bathhouse. 14 organizations participated - including area marine mammal stranding networks and groups focused on the Puget Sound environment, marine mammal education and marine life rehabilitation. Learn more.