Lolita is an Orca who was captured in 1970 from the Puget Sound, and is a member of L-pod, and whose real name is Tokitae. For the past 40 years she has been held as an “entertainer” in Miami at a marine park. Efforts are underway to return her to the waters of her home and we on the island share the desire to bring her back so she can live out the rest of her life surrounded by her family and with the freedom of space to swim and cavort in her natural environment. Recently, the Orca Network sent out this press release:
Late on February 3, a new page went up on the NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region website stating:*February 6, 2015: *We announced a final rule that amends the ESA listing of the Southern Resident killer whale distinct population segment by removing the exclusion for captive members of the population, hence recognizing, “Lolita” as a protected member of the Southern Resident killer whale distinct population segment.
Also, one of the new Washington State Ferries will be named after our beloved Tokitae:
The first of the 144-car ferries under construction will be named Tokitae. This Coast Salish greeting means, “nice day, pretty colors” and also is the name given to an orca whale captured at Penn Cove, near Keystone, in 1970. Tokitae was brought to a marine park in Miami 40 years ago, where she was put into service as an entertainer, and re-named Lolita. She is the last survivor of the 45 Southern Resident Orcas captured in Washington state during the capture era of the 1960s and 70s. Such captures were banned in Washington state waters in 1976.
If you want to learn more about Tokitae, please visit the Orca Network.