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Free Lolita Update 85

Lolita Update #85
Capture Commemoration
July 30, 2006

Dear Friends of Lolita,

Orca Network invites you to our annual Penn Cove Orca Capture Commemoration in memory of the 45 Southern Resident orcas captured in Washington State, and the 13 orcas killed during the captures, and in honor of Lolita, the sole survivor.

Tuesday August 8th, 4:30 - 7:30 pm
Island County Historical Society Museum
908 NW Alexander St., Coupeville, Whidbey Island WA
Admission - $20

Dedicated to the memory of L98/Luna with a special Luna presentation by Suzanne Chisholm

Educational Presentations & Displays, Silent Auction, Wine & Appetizers
Purchase tickets by contacting: E-Mail or 1-866-ORCANET or at the door
Orca Network is a 501 c3 nonprofit and Washington State Charitable organization

On this anniversary of the Penn Cove Orca Capture in which Lolita (the only survivor of all the captures) was taken, Orca Network holds its annual commemoration of the 58 Southern Resident orcas captured or killed between 1965 and 1976.

This year is special on several counts: The sad and tragic loss of Luna, or L98, in March will be remembered with a touching presentation by Suzanne Chisholm, of Mountainside Films. Suzanne and her husband Michael Parfit spent over two years with Luna in Nootka Sound, working on a book and documentary about this solitary sociable orca. Their observations and reports kept many of us in tune with Luna's daily life in Nootka Sound. Unfortunately, in March Luna was killed in an accident with a tug boat before he could be reunited with L pod, bringing a sad end to his story.

Meanwhile, Lolita remains alone in her small tank at the Miami Seaquarium, somehow surviving decades of solitary confinement, through hurricanes and horrible living conditions. The Seaquarium owners will not relinquish ownership of Lolita, as she is their primary money-maker, and it appears they plan to force her to perform until her death.

But there is some good news as well. At this year's event, we will show an award-winning documentary on the Penn Cove Orca Captures produced by Coupeville High School Students Connor Tasoff and Megan Smith as part of their History Day project. It's heartening to see future generations learning from the mistakes of past generations.

And Lolita's family, the Southern Resident Community of orcas, has been given the highest level of protection available by NOAA Fisheries when they were listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act in November 2005. We'll describe the mind-boggling new discovery that orcas live in cultural communities that led up to the ESA listing.

Research and conservation efforts have been increased to protect and preserve this population, including one research project that might finally bring some good out of the Penn Cove Orca Captures. NOAA Fisheries scientists are working to recover the skeletal remains of the four or five orcas killed during the 1970 Penn Cove orca capture, in hopes of finding information through DNA testing that might answer some of the questions and mysteries of the decline of the Southern Resident orca community. One answer we already have is that the removal of approximately one-third to one-half of the entire population during the capture era put this population on fragile footing, taking several decades for the population to recover, and leading in part to their current endangered status. But through the bones of the orcas killed in 1970, answers about nutrition, genetics, toxins, and more could be found, and some positive outcome may finally result out of this unfortunate part of Penn Cove's history.

Orca Network is asking anyone who was around during the Penn Cove orca captures who has information on where the whales were buried, photos, or other information and stories of interest about the captures to please contact us at 1-866-ORCANET or E-Mail. Or if anyone is aware of any other orcas that may have washed up on the shores of Puget Sound and buried in locations that are now accessible, this could provide invaluable information for researchers trying to unlock the secrets of the past and work toward a better future for our orca communities.


There's not much we can report about Lolita lately. Her routine of repetitive daily shows resumed after the Seaquarium was closed for four months due to damage from Hurricane Wilma last October. As Miami waits to see what the next hurricane will do, and how rising sea levels will impact south Florida, the Seaquarium is greeting fewer tourists while borrowing more money to keep its doors open. As the movie title says: "Something's gotta give." Here's a sign that this dilapidated amusement park is digging itself ever deeper into financial ruin:
PURCHASE, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 12, 2006--MVC Capital, Inc. (NYSE: MVC), a publicly traded business development company that makes private debt and equity investments, today announced that the Fund has provided $12 million of debt and $2 million of equity financing to Marine Exhibition Corporation which owns and operates the Miami Seaquarium, a family-oriented entertainment park. The Seaquarium, located less than 10 miles from downtown Miami, opened in 1955 and is South Florida's most visited gated attraction, providing visitors of the theme park access to more than 100 species of animals. The Seaquarium's main attractions include a Killer Whale show, Dolphin and Sea Lion shows, and a Swim with the Dolphins program. The Seaquarium is well known for its marine mammal husbandry, mammal surgery and breeding practices, and for its specialized expertise in the care of dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles. The Fund's investment is intended to support the refurbishment of the Seaquarium which was damaged during Hurricane Wilma in October 2005 [...and the multimillion dollar upgrade to meet county safety codes after Russ Rector and Tim Gorski exposed severe deterioration throughout the park]. The refurbishment project includes improvements to the Flipper Dolphin Stadium that will increase the capacity of the Swim with the Dolphins program.

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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