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Free Lolita Update 44

Lolita Update #44
November 25, 2001

Dear Friends of Lolita,
  • Two new calves are born in Lolita's extended family
  • A new organization is formed to raise "orcawareness" and carry on the campaign to bring Lolita home.
  • Future demonstrations planned for Miami
  • News from Iceland
Two new calves:

All around Puget Sound whale watchers are celebrating the birth of two new orca calves in K and L pods. On October 29, researcher Mark Sears spent the day with J's, K's & some of L's from daybreak to dusk in south Puget Sound, & observed & photographed a new calf, with fetal folds clearly visible. The calf was guarded closely by about six females.

Then on November 4, Mark reported lots of whales again in south Puget Sound, (could've been all 3 pods again). He was able to ID another new calf!!! The calf was with its mother, L67, who had a calf in '99 that disappeared this past year. As of November 24 both calves were reported doing just fine.

This brings the Southern Resident orca community up to 81 members (counting Lolita of course). We're also happy to report that no Southern Residents have disappeared in the past six months. Salmon runs this year have been the most plentiful in twenty years due in part to improved ocean conditions, which has brought the Residents into the lower Puget Sound on numerous occasions. You can follow the whales' movements at, and see a map showing the whales' recent locations here.


The birth of Orca Network:

We have some other exciting news to share with you - the announcement of the birth of "Orca Network"! Howard Garrett and Susan Berta, formerly of Orca Conservancy, are pleased to introduce a new "orcanization" which will focus on our Whale Sighting Network and education programs, and continuing efforts to return Lolita to her home and family. We are also in the process of building a brand new website, at, still very much under construction...stay tuned!

Our new Greenbank, Whidbey Island based non-profit (contact info. listed at the end of this message) will enable us to further expand our growing whale sighting network, which currently has over 300 people on it, extending from Olympia up into the Canadian Gulf Islands. Participants in the network include top orca and gray whale researchers, government agencies, environmental organizations, whale watch operators, and waterfront residents and whale-lovers who want to help keep track of our whales.


Future demonstrations for Lolita:


The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, (ARFF), and Orca Network are expanding the Lolita campaign. With our two organizations and several others working together, and with the participation of Florida State Representative Gus Barreiro, plans are now underway for another major demonstration at the Miami Seaquarium on January 21, 2002. Two more demos are planned for March and May.

The Lolita campaign is featured in the Winter 2001 issue of "Fighting Chance" magazine, published by Last Chance for Animals. The title of the article is "Keiko's Freedom...Lolita's Prison. Lolita will also be the subject of a feature article in the January issue of E Magazine.


News from Iceland:

On Nov. 6 the NY Times ran an article called "Keiko Makes It Clear: His 'Free Willy' Was Just a Role" The article, which was distributed worldwide, generally makes the argument that Keiko is not interested in joining with wild orcas. "He has played with pods of orcas in the open ocean, but he doesn't stay with them. He makes sounds, but it's not clear they speak the same language."

Keiko apparently simply hasn't located his immediate family members. Buried in the article is the quote that probably should have been the main theme:

"Kenneth Balcomb, director of the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor, Wash., who has tracked Puget Sound orca pods since 1976, said he would have started long ago trying to find Keiko's family pod. There are about 600 orcas near Iceland, he said, meaning "probably 30 to 40 matrilineal lines of DNA."

"Orcas, like elephants, usually stay with matriarch-led pods for life. "If you could take Keiko out to that group," Mr. Balcomb said, "I think they'd recognize something about him," even though he was probably about 2 when he was captured. "Right now, he's just hanging around - like taking you to Japan and saying `O.K., man, make friends and feast out.'"

The article about Keiko and Lolita in Fighting Chance magazine makes the same case: "Cousteau believes that Keiko may be apprehensive because he has not yet found his pod; each pod has its own dialect, which members use to communicate with one another and which they remember even after years in captivity. Whales spend all of their lives in the same pod."

The best available scientific knowledge indicates that orcas do indeed spend all their lives in the same pod. This astounding affinity for family life cannot be reconciled with the capture and incarceration of orcas for our greed and consumption. To hold an orca in solitary confinement, as Lolita is held in the Miami Seaquarium, is an extreme transgression against nature. The USDA is required to uphold the Animal Welfare Act, under which the dimensions of the Seaquarium tank are in clear violation. Please write to the USDA to politely call for Lolita's return to her native waters.

Secretary Ann Veneman
Room 200-A, Whitten Bldg
U.S. Department of Agriculture
14th and Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20250
(202) 720-3631/Fax: (202) 720-2166

cc: Ron DeHaven
Acting Deputy Administrator
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
4700 River Road, Unit 97
Riverdale, MD 20737-1234
(301)734-4980/Fax: (301) 734-8724

We'll be in Vancouver, BC for the next week to attend the Conference of the Society for Marine Mammalogy.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Howard Garrett and Susan Berta
Orca Network

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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