And a Sun-Sentinel video of the Walk for Lolita - (Webmaster Note: Links Dead) with an interview with Ric O'Barry - (Webmaster Note: Sun Sentinal has removed the video since 2009 but here is another video from this same event.)
But that is where Lolita the killer whale belongs, say more than 30 animal activists who protested Saturday at the Miami Seaquarium.
Instead, she spends her days in a concrete tank flipping for crowds at the popular marine park.A killer whale at the Miami Seaquarium should be released into the wild rather than forced to live in a concrete tank, animal activists say.
Shelby Proie, one of the more than 30 activists seeking to free Lolita the killer whale, said during a protest Saturday at the Miami tourist site that the 7,000-pound animal does not deserve to be penned in an aquarium.
"Every week one of us goes in to check on her," the 24-year-old Nova Southeastern University student told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "I go to the tank and tell her we're trying to get her out."
Leading the protest Saturday was Ric O'Barry, the Coconut Grove dolphin trainer turned activist who stars in The Cove, a documentary released Friday about the slaughtering of dolphins in Japan.
O'Barry doesn't believe Lolita should be released into the wild, but rather transferred to a natural sea pen in Puget Sound where she might reunite with her marine family.
"It's about retiring Lolita and letting her live out the rest of her life in quiet and dignity," said O'Barry, a former Seaquarium trainer who has campaigned against using dolphins in marine parks. "But they're going to milk every dollar out of her before she dies."
Activist Simon Hutchins told the Sun-Sentinel Lolita is bored most of the time.
"After the show, the orca just goes and sits in the corner," he said. "It's a nightmare for this orca."
Demonstrators line the road at the park entrance.
Photo by Simon Hutchins
Cameraman recalls brutal early '70s whale captures
August 9, 2009 (Victoria Times Colonist)
Thirty-eight years ago, Andrew Jeff Mart was in a Seattle newsroom, his gut wrenched with anger, as he watched footage of southern resident killer whales being captured in Puget Sound.
"I became so incensed," said Mart, then a young cameraman working for KING-TV. "I had Thursday and Friday off and decided I had to do something. I was a scuba diver and I was going to go and cut the nets open."
A friend convinced him it was a crazy idea and suggested he should use his camera instead.
That decision to go to the capture site almost cost him his life -- and helped change the way killer-whale captures were viewed by government and the public.
Some of the dramatic images he filmed during those two days, with commentary by then-KING-TV reporter Don McGaffin, were unearthed recently and will be shown today when the Orca Network holds its annual commemoration of the infamous 1970 Penn Cove orca capture, where five whales died. That happened in the same area the year before the captures Mart witnessed.
Orca Network, a Puget Sound non-profit organization, holds the commemoration at Coupeville, Whidbey Island, each year in honour of the 45 southern resident killer whales captured and 13 killed between 1962 and 1973. About nine others were taken from northern resident pods.
The footage to be shown today is graphic, warns Howard Garrett of Orca Network. "It shows a lot of agitated calls [by the whales]," he said. "It shows the orcas thrashing about in a tiny pen and people with ropes looped around them."
Efforts were sometimes made to conceal deaths, making it difficult to come up with exact numbers.
That came to a head in 1970 when the five killer whales died during a capture led by Griffin and Goldsberry.
The whales, including an adult female who drowned trying to reach her calf, died when they became entangled in the nets. Divers slit the bellies of the whales, filled them with rocks and weighted the tails with anchors, but the bodies surfaced months later.
August 12, 2009 (Center for Whale Research blog by Candace Calloway Whiting)
"Hopefully the USDA will inspect and measure the concrete bowl where Lolita has lived the past 39 years and will find it unlawful under the Animal Welfare Act..."
Those words from Howard Garrett's post really got me wondering about how it is possible that the governmental agencies responsible for animal welfare are able to turn their backs when it comes to the Miami Seaquarium and the substandard tank where "Lolita" (the orca taken from L-pod) is forced to live.
The USDA arm of the government that is responsible is the Animal Plant and Health Service (APHIS). The Regulations read: 9 C.F.R. Sec. 3.104 - Space Requirements -
The primary enclosure for a Killer whale (Orcinus orca) must have a minimum horizontal dimension of no less than 48 ft. in either direction with a straight line of travel across the center.
Lolita's tank is a mere 35 feet from the front wall to the slide out barrier. At its deepest point in the center the tank is only 20 feet deep. She is about 22 feet long.
Two events were held over this past weekend to bring attention to Lolita and to remember the awful day 39 years ago when she was captured.
Miami - Walk for Lolita
In Miami, the "Walk for Lolita" was held on Saturday, August 8th. Organized by Shelby Proie, many supporters showed up to walk wearing body paint showing an orca in a fishbowl. Also present was activist Ric O'Barry, who rehabilitates dolphins and returns them to the ocean where they belong. On the subject of Lolita, O'Barry says that while Lolita may never be able to return to her family, she should be retired to a sea pen to live out her days in quiet and dignity. But, he says, "they are going to milk every dollar out of her before she dies."
In the Sun Sentinel, Arthur Hertz owner of the Miami Seaquarium, was quoted as saying, "Lolita is very special and dear to us and she will continue to be an ambassador for her species from her home at Miami Seaquarium."
Just how can she be an ambassador for her species when she can't do any of the normal activities and behaviors of an orca? She can't use her echolocation to find food, she can't swim 100 miles per day with her L pod family, nor can she feel the cool waters of Puget Sound or the rhythms of the sea and the flows of the tides. And perhaps the worst is that they have robbed her of the joyous experience of motherhood and the freedom to live her life as she was meant to live it.
Coupeville, WA - The Penn Cove Capture Commemoration
Meanwhile, over 3,000 miles away on Sunday, August 9th, the Penn Cove Capture Commemoration was held in Coupeville, WA. This event is held every year and is organized by Susan Berta and Howard Garrett of Orca Network.
People here have not forgotten the orcas captured and killed in Penn Cove almost 40 years ago.
About 50 people on Sunday gathered to share stories and feelings, and to commemorate the lone Penn Cove survivor, Lolita.
"It was such a traumatic event for people here and for everyone who heard about it," said Howard Garrett, co-founder and director of Orcas Network.
Orcas Network works to educate people about marine mammals and to serve as advocates for the animals. This Sunday marked the 11th year the group hosted the event, Garrett said, "so that people know about the wonder of these orcas that live around us."
People were touched when the heard the cries of the whales. They also witnessed what Garrett called a mystery: The orcas didn't harm any members of the capture team. They could have, easily.
"Not a flick of a fluke toward a human," Garrett said.
Garrett and others are rallying for an important cause, to bring Lolita back to Puget Sound from her home at the Miami Seaquarium.
A documentary about dolphins, and how the marine mammal captivity industry fuels dolphin slaughters
"The Cove" is an eye opening documentary about former "Flipper" trainer Ric O'Barry turned activist exposing the dolphin drive fisheries/slaughters that happen in Taiji, Japan every year. It shows how over 23,000 dolphins are killed from these barbaric events every year. Fishermen say the dolphin slaughters are a form of "pest control" because the dolphins are eating too manyfish. The dolphins caught are slaughtered and sold as mercury contaminated meat or sold to the captive marine mammal park industry around the world. This amazing documentary shows how the captive marine mammal industry fuels these slaughters by paying top dollar for live "good looking" specimens to put on display. This is a must see for animal lovers everywhere.
Hour: Have there been any changes that you know of since you left Taiji [the village where the cove is located]?
Louis Psihoyos: The Japanese government is starting to feel it. It is sort of like a tsunami is rising around them. They're hoping it will just go away but I'm hoping it overtakes them. To me, this isn't just a cruelty to animals issue but it is the injustice being inflicted on man as a result of this cruelty that will help win this argument. If the film is successful, it will be a win for everyone - not just the dolphins but the Japanese people as well.
Hour: So you're hopeful then for more change to come?
LP: I feel the film itself is really quite hopeful. It is out of my hands, though, now. The audience has to finish the story for themselves.
Niki G. has designed a 2nd shirt for the Save Lolita campaign. It is featured on the front page of the site now.
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!