By Kirsten Massebeau
On October 3, 2013 Barbara Napoles a long time dolphin activist received a call from an Australian news channel about doing a demonstration and interview about Lolita the last L Pod member alive in captivity today. Despite her busy schedule with her popular Facebook page Save the Blood Dolphins Napoles put together and amazing event in less than a week that drew 50 activists including Ric O’Barry of the Dolphin Project/creator of the academy award-winning documentary The Cove, and the media.
Lolita is a subject close to Napoles heart as she grew up in the Miami area where Lolita has performed for 43 years at the Miami Seaquarium. Napoles has attended, and created, many demonstrations for Lolita known as Tokitae in the Puget Sound where the L pod, her family, her mother, sister and other L pod mates still live today. According to Napoles, “I am sure the L Pod is awaiting Lolita’s return. She has performed for 43 years in one of the tiniest tanks on the planet at the Miami Seaquarium doesn’t she deserve to retire?”.
The L pod capture on August 8, 1970 took seven young whales for captivity one of which was Lolita. The whales were sold to marine parks around the world. During Lolita’s capture five whales, including four babies had their bellies slit, then filled with rocks, and weighted down with chains and anchors to keep their deaths from coming to the public’s attention. Of the seven whales taken for captivity Lolita is the only L pod orca from the Penn Cove captures that remains alive today. (Source)
On May 24, 2013 the government announced that they would reconsider Lolita’s status as endangered that she has previously been excluded from:
Apr. 24, 2013: We accepted a petition to include the captive killer whale known as Lolita in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing of Southern Resident killer whales. We are soliciting scientific and commercial information about Lolita’s status to ensure that our ongoing status review is comprehensive. Acceptance of this petition doesn’t presuppose any particular outcome. The comment period closes Jun. 28, 2013. See the Federal Register notice and other materials below for more information; or contact Lynne Barre, 206-526-4745. (source)
What would become of Lolita after 43 years in Miami Seaquarium? Her teeth are still good which gives her a fighting chance. There is a proposal and a good one. Many people in the Pacific Northwest and worldwide want to see Lolita released and returned to her pod. The plan can be read here. Isn’t it time that an orca taken from her family so long ago is given a chance to enjoy the rest of her life with her family? Doesn’t she deserve some kind of retribution for the life that was stolen from her all those years ago in Penn Cove.
- New push to save endangered orcas in Puget Sound (q13fox.com)