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Free Lolita Update 102

Lolita Update #102
Protest Reminder Saturday, Dec. 6
December 4, 2008

Reminder: December 6th, Noon to 1:30 at the Miami Seaquarium.

Lolita opens wide for chunks of fish.

Lolita is fed about 50 pounds of wild-caught salmon per day, plus herring and capelin. One of the ways she maintains some control of her situation is to refuse to eat unless the fish is cut just right, not too big or too small. Keiko was fed this way too for over 20 years, but as soon as he had the chance to catch wild fish again he did so easily. Note that her front lower teeth barely show above the gum line, which is a genetic trait typical for many orcas. Note also the crumbling plaster, chunks of which are often seen at the bottom of the pool.

A protest will be held at the entrance to the Miami Seaquarium on the Rickenbacker Causeway, Biscayne Bay, to raise awareness about Lolita. The last protest, on October 11, 2008 generated national media attention for the Orca, held captive for display at the park since 1970. A four minute segment was aired on CNN Headline news. (See Lolita on CNN).

Email Shelby Proie for more information on the demonstration.

Shelby, in collaboration with Orca Network, invites fellow Miami residents and media to come out and support Lolita's retirement. We hope to see Lolita transported to a bay pen in her native Pacific Northwest waters where she will be taken care of for the rest of her life unless she chooses to rejoin her pod that resides in the same waters most months of every year.

She has been living in an illegal tank at the Seaquarium for the last 38 years, but now a swim with the dolphins program has become the main source of revenue for the park. This has added to the controversy about why she shouldn't be retired. The Seaquarium is not allowed and won't build her a bigger tank. No other marine park is likely to take Lolita because orcas are members of specific cultural communities (Lolita is a member of the L25 subpod of the Southern Resident clan). She probably would not adjust well to the presence of other captive orcas from different communities.

If retired she will initially reside in a generously sized bay pen where she will be fed, taken care of and slowly reintroduced back into the wild. After rehabilitation it will be her choice to continue to live in the pen, return occasionally for food and care, or leave to rejoin her pod.

This photo was taken November 22, on a Saturday before Thanksgiving. There's not much enthusiasm among the sparse onlookers. Photo by Corrine Regan.

More on Lolita and her family at Orca Network.

One more time, here is Shelby's interview on CNN Headline News about Lolita.

Shelby Proie CNN interview

More photos of the October 11 demo are at at Shelby's MySpace page


Letter to supporters of Lolita's retirement

Responses or inquiries are welcome. Please contact Orca Network.

Lolita's possible mom, L25, took a 400 mile trip along with about 20 other L pod orcas from the south end of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to the north end. The calls Lolita makes to this day have been identified as the L25 subpod's unique calls.

On December 3rd Paul Spong and Helena Symonds wrote:
We are now able to report which whales were seen off Alert Bay on Nov.24th. The DFO has confirmed that it was part of the Ls. This is only the 2nd time that we know of that southern residents have chosen to head north in the late Fall via Johnstone Strait. Two years ago, southern residents came through in early December. At that time, it was dark so pictures were not possible. However, they were vocal. This time, we don't believe they were vocal while in range of our hydrophones but Paul was fortunate to be in town at the time they passed by and was able to take a few pictures. L85, L41, L77, L78, L79 and L25 were identified from the pictures. Thanks to Jared and Graeme for their help with the identifications.

Last night we had northern residents turn up in Johnstone Strait. They had been absent since Nov. 3rd. This morning, we have been watching 4 humpbacks wandering back and forth feeding. The sea is calm, the skies sunny... lovely!

Helena and Paul

A couple of old friends visit Puget Sound

December 2, 2008, J8/Speiden ~75 years old, and L7/Canuck, 47 years old, cruise along the beach at Alki Point, West Seattle. These two females are usually miles apart with their respective pods, but recently L7's family has been with J pod. Orcas often travel side by side in groups of 2 to 5 or more for miles at a time. Photo by Jeff Hogan.

Much is going on to help bring Lolita home and to inform and advocate for her and her family Please consider a tax-deductible contribution to help Orca Network continue this work by clicking HERE. Thank you!

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