The NOAA has called for public comments regarding the proposed rule to grant Lolita protection under the Endangered Species Act as a member of the Southern Resident orca population from which she was captured. Please keep comments polite, and comments including scientific information, research or facts are always best. The deadline for the public comments period is March 28, 2014 at 11:59pm ET. Comments can be sent at this link: Listing Endangered or Threatened Species: Southern Resident Killer Whale Distinct Population Segment.
Lolita was captured from the waters of the Puget Sound on August 8, 1970, as boats, aircrafts and explosives were used to round up the pod and drive them into Penn Cove. Footage of the violent and infamous capture is featured in the documentary Blackfish. Lolita’s family was torn apart as some were captured and some died in the struggle.
Lolita is the only remaining survivor of those taken captive. She is still, without the company of other orcas, in a tiny tank at the Miami Seaquarium. This has been her prison cell for more than 40 years. While ESA protection would not guarantee Lolita’s release from the Miami Seaquarium to a sea pen sanctuary or the wild, it is a possibility. Protection under the ESA would demand, at the very least, that the conditions under which Lolita is kept be significantly improved.
Lolita’s home is also home for us and close to our hearts at Sea Shepherd USA, with our headquarters in Friday Harbor, Washington state. Our greatest hope for Lolita is that she will soon be welcomed back to the waters of the north Pacific by her family. If that day comes, Sea Shepherd will be there to welcome her home, too.