Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Annual Commemoration of the Penn Cove Orca Captures

L-pc25 ("Lolita") photo by Peter Pijpelink - October 30, 2007

The whale they call "Lolita" is a member of L-pod. Her number is L-pc25, which denotes where she was captured (Penn Cove) and the whale she was associated with at that time (L-25, most likely her mother). "Lolita" has a local name too - Tokitae, and this is the family she would most be a member of:

L-pc25's ("Lolita's") presumed family: members of the L-12 subpod and L-25 who is believed to be her mother. Photo by Dave Ellifrit

Working diligently towards the day that "Lolita" is returned to her pod is Orca Network's Howard Garrett. I contacted him about the upcoming Annual Orca Capture Commemoration Gathering event, and he has graciously agreed to contribute his thoughts to this blog and will post here soon. In the mean time, he asked me to consider an interesting question, which I will share:

Putting aside the reasons of compassion,what are the really good things that would come out of bringing her home, how would that benefit us as a community?

What I came up with is that there are profound opportunities for research and education in this, as well as a deep sense of gratification to be gained, but I am sure that there are other things as well...


  1. I have been writing a series of articles on "An Orca named Lolita". What started as a one off received such wonderful support from people in the US and around the world, that I knew I had to write more. Today I published Part 7 on

    The name Tokitae was given to her by the veterinarian from Miami’s Seaquarium, Jesse White. He was looking to buy a companion for the orca they already had called Hugo. He bought her and named her “Tokitae” which is a coast Salish word used by all the tribes meaning “nice day, pretty colors”. He had seen this word in a souvenir shop and thought it fit the beauty of the orca he purchased. The wife of the owner of the Seaquarium wanted her called Lolita as she thought that the calling out that Tokitae and Hugo did to each other was romantic. In my humble opinion, when we get her back, we should give her a name with a lot more dignity. While writing my series of articles, I've often thought that if L25 - Ocean Sun does turn out to be her mom, we should name her Sea Star or Star of the Sea.

    As for the benefit of bringing her home, the only benefit I want is for her to be free. Free to feel the waters of the Puget Sound on her back, free to feel the rhythms of the sea and the tides. Free to dive to depths of a LOT more than 20 feet, and free to swim 100 miles a day. If she is still able, free to give birth to a calf who will grow up free. And, last but not least, free to be with L pod for the rest of her life.

  2. Carole - Thoughtful and beautifully expressed comments! And your series on "Lolita" are very informative too. With people such as yourself working diligently to bring her home "Lolita" should soon be swimming in her natal waters again, and maybe even be re-united with her pod.

  3. Carole - what is in a name? Alot.

    It is unfortunate that Lolita has a very fitting name. We stole her innocence when she was but a child and we have pimped her out ever since.

  4. Lolita is the oldest whale in captivity, surviving in very small tank. But maybe she will die if moved or set free, look what happened to the Keiko from free willy, it couldn't survive in the wild and ended up beaching itself. Although freeing Lolita sounds like an amazing idea, maybe she will die if any too dramatic changes take place in her life. At the very least a new bigger tank would be nice, if she can handle the stress of being moved. She has been in captivity for 41 years isn't it unlikely she will have any instincts left to survive with? I am unsure, I am not an expert. But I hope she survives no matter what happens to her


Candace Calloway Whiting