Endangered Species Act Listing May be Lolita’s First Step Towards Freedom


By Kirsten Massebeau

Lolita correctedA battle to return the imprisoned orca Lolita also known as Tokitae  to her family the L-Pod in the Puget Sound makes steps forward, and towards freedom. Lolita is on the verge of being listed on the Endangered Species List. NOAA is considering adding Lolita to the Endangered species list to join her other pod mates in Washington thanks to a petition. The Orca Network believes that once she is listed she must be freed, allowed to retire and return home to her family in the Puget Sound:

“This means Lolita will now, presumably, be included as a member of an endangered population and must be accorded all the legal protections provided to her extended family. That would mean that her incarceration in a concrete box for the benefit of the entertainment industry would henceforth be illegal” (source

The cruel Penn Cove round up, 1970

The cruel Penn Cove round up, August 8, 1970

For 40 years Lolita has been imprisoned at the Miami Seaquarium in one of the worlds tiniest tanks. Lolita is known as the remaining survivor of the famous Penn Cove Round up that took place August 8,1970. Seven whales were taken for captivity during the violent round up. Five other whales, including four babies drown. The victims that were killed had their bellies slit and filled with rocks in an attempt to cover up their deaths. But on November 18, 1970 the terrible secret of what happened that terrible day at Penn Cove would be revealed to the world:

“In mid-November a trawler dragged the bodies of the drowned infants into its net. The captain of the fishing boat deposited the dead baby whales on a beach in front of a Seattle newspaper reporter, and the story was immediately told to the world. Six years later this discovery played a major role in a court decision that banned Sea World from ever capturing another killer whale in Washington State”. (source)

Lolita enslaved at the Miami Seaquarium

Lolita enslaved at the Miami Seaquarium for 40 years!

Lolita has been performing at the Miami Seaquarium since 1970. The other seven whales captured with Lolita died within five years of their capture. Today Lolita the last remaining member of those captured from the Puget Sound has a chance at freedom and we can help! NOAA is asking for public comment on her upcoming Endangered Species listing. Please make a comment here. Let them know you support her addition to the endangered species listing and her eventual freedom. Isn’t it time this highly intelligent hard worker is allowed to retire and return home?

Acoustic Naval Experiment Promises Deadly Consequences for Whales Dolphins of the Western North Pacific Ocean


By Kirsten Massebeau

Proposed locations of the sonar experiment http://1.usa.gov/15ZUgLl

Proposed locations of the U.S. Naval acoustic experiment (source)

The Office of the Naval Research (ONR) is proposing an acoustic technology experiment (ATE) during spring, summer 2013 in the Western North Pacific:

The nine provinces are discrete areas identified with the following 5 geographic titles as presented in the analysis results herein: Sea of Japan, East China Sea, South China
6 Sea, North Philippine Sea, West Philippine Sea, East of Japan, Offshore Guam, Northwest Pacific 7 Ocean: 25º to 40º North latitude, and Northwest Pacific Ocean: 10º to 25º North latitude.. No more than 8 four underwater acoustic sources will be employed during the experiments, with none of the ONR ATE 9 sources transmitting concurrently, and with all sources operating below 1.5 kilohertz (kHz) and a sound 10 pressure level (SPL) less than 220 decibels (dB) for a total of no more than 69 hours of acoustic
11 transmissions over six days (Source)

All active sources will transmit below 1.5 kHz and a SPL less  15 than 220 dB for a total duration of no more than 69 hours (hr) over six at-sea days (source)

All active sources will transmit below 1.5 kHz and a SPL less
15 than 220 dB for a total duration of no more than 69 hours (hr) over six at-sea days (source)

If the permit to perform this ATE sea life,whales and dolphins living in an already challenging Western North Pacific Ocean riddled with long line fishing, trawlers, hunting, shipping strikes and shipping noise will be exposed to 220 dB for extended periods of time as seen in the chart above.

2000 Bahamas stranding caused by Naval Sonar

2000 Bahamas stranding caused by Naval Sonar

Connections between Naval acoustic activities and strandings are on the rise. While few strandings due to sonar are acknowledged by the Navy the stranding in the Bahamas in 2000 was confirmed and the effects were devastating as noted by cetacean researcher and expert Ken Balcolmb in an interview discussing the 2000 stranding in the Bahamas:

Yes there’s actually hemorrhaging going on. It isn’t an auditory injury per se. It affects the ears, but this pressure damage is not related to whether or not the whales have temporary threshold shift in their hearing [a hearing loss]. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) says these injuries are survivable-and they are, but only with hospitalization. And whales don’t have that option. (source)

Navy sonar recorded 2003 in the Puget Sound.

Orca approach researchers

Orca approach researchers Puget Sound, Washington

Join the voice of opposition to the use of Naval Sonar and all acoustic devices in the oceans.

Please leave a comment asking NOAA/NMFS to deny the Navy’s request for a permit to do  acoustic experiments in the North Pacific. The comment period on this permit ends on May 2, 2013 so get your comment in today! 

Comments on the application should be addressed to P. Michael Payne, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. The mailbox address for providing email comments is ITP.Magliocca@noaa.gov.

Read the entire permit proposal hereFollow the permits as they are listed here.