August 8, 2003 Capture Anniversary Event
Mother & Child Reunion

Over seventy people gathered together on the shores of Penn Cove the evening of August 8th for Orca Network's annual commemoration of the 1970 Penn Cove orca capture in which "Lolita" was taken. Nearly half of those in attendance came from off island, overcoming long ferry lines and traffic jams to be a part of this special event.....we truly appreciate the effort many of you made to get to Whidbey to attend the event!

This event always has a special "feel" to it, but this year was even better than most as our thoughts and hearts turned to not only Tokitae (Lolita), but to Luna as well. The energy in the air was one of anticipation of the return of our missing L pod whales, and the urgency of wanting to do everything we can to help bring them back as soon as possible.

Speakers at this year's event included Howard Garrett of Orca Network, telling the history of the Lolita campaign, and offering compelling reasons why both Lolita and Luna are still members of L pod, and that like long lost children they have every right to be returned home to their family. What we've been saying for years has now finally been "proven" by scientific studies - these orcas have culture, societies, and family ties that last for life; they should not be kept isolated or separated for any reason.

Diane Gardetto was the featured guest speaker regarding Luna's situation. Diane has just returned to San Juan Island after spending time in Nootka Sound working with the Luna Stewardship project to educate people about Luna and attempt to keep him from harm. Her stories and photos showed just how precarious Luna's situation is, as thousands of people flock to the dock at Gold River to see and try to pet him, and how his endless pursuit of boats and people is putting him in imminent danger. If Luna had his orca family for company, he would not suffer from the loneliness he has experienced these past two years and would likely leave boats and humans alone, much as Springer did once she was returned to her pod in Canada. Diane captured all of our hearts with her stories and photos and her obvious concern and care for Luna. There was no disagreement amongst the crowd that Luna should come home - NOW!

Jeff Hogan of Killer Whale Tales on Vashon Island, read wonderful letters written by elementary school children to Canada's Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans, asking why they haven't let Luna come home. These letters were humorous, but very forthright and to the point, and hopefully will give the DFO some thoughts to ponder. Kids have a way of saying exactly what us grown-ups would LIKE to say but are afraid to!

And we were honored by two surprise guest speakers! It was great to be joined by former Secretary of State Ralph Munro and his wife Karen, long-time Lolita supporters who didn't think their schedule would allow attending this year. They were able to make it over, and Ralph spoke of the value of Orca Network's Whale Sighting Network and his support of the campaigns to bring Lolita and Luna home. Washington Representative Phil Rockefeller, after a long wait in a ferry line, joined us on the hillside above Penn Cove, and shared his efforts at working on the State level to bring more funding and attention to orca issues and their potential listing under the Endangered Species Act on the State level. It was a pleasure and an honor to have these friends of the whales be part of the evening, and we thank them for taking time out of their busy schedules to share with us!

After the presentations, we wandered back to the gallery, to the many wonderful auction items donated by so many generous people (many thanks to all who donated!), to eat and to talk with each other about the whales and what we can do to help them.

Toward the end of the evening, we gathered down by the lagoon on Penn Cove for a waterside ceremony to honor all the Southern Resident orcas who were captured and killed during the 1960's and '70s, of which only Lolita survives. These captures removed nearly one half of the total population of the Southern Residents, the effects of which are still felt today as they struggle to survive and sustain themselves. Pat Rasmussen played her drum and sang moving Native songs, and Susan Berta played her cedar flute as a wreath of cedar and ocean spray was tossed into the waters of Penn Cove, in hopes that someday at least two of our missing whales will return....

It's difficult to describe these events, because they just can't be put into words. Whether it's the beautiful setting of the Captain Whidbey Inn, or the history of the captures on Penn Cove and the spirits of the whales who were taken there, or the energy of the many people who come every year to be a part of this family that gathers on the shores of the cove to honor and celebrate our whale neighbors....If you were there, you know what we mean - if not, we hope you can attend next year and find out!

Events like this do not happen without the help and support of many folks. Thanks to the Captain Whidbey Inn for once again sponsoring the event and the use of ther Stone Gallery and beautiful grounds and gazebo. Penn Cove Shellfish donated delicious Penn Cove Mussels, The Cove Restaurant provided the no-host bar, Killer Whale Tales provided a kids activity table, and MANY generous people and businesses provided amazing auction items. Thanks also to the following volunteers who helped out in a variety of ways to make this event a success:

Sandy Dubpernel, Britta Eschete, Diane Gardetto, Shakti Gray, Cindy Hansen, Kathy Haven, Jeff Hogan, Sue Karahalios, Mary Long, Mira Munich, Donna Radcliffe, Pat Rasmussen, Dena Royal, Merle Segault, Barbara Stevens, Dean Webber, and Joy Weeks.

Susan Berta & Howard Garrett
Orca Network

Photos of August 8, 2003 Event to Commemorate Lolita's capture and to bring attention to the need to help Luna


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Diane Gardetto tells about seeing Luna up close

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WA Representative Phil Rockefeller offers his thoughts on how state government can help the Southern Resident orcas.

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Jeff Hogan reads letters from kids asking for help for Luna.

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Howard Garrett and Susan Berta listen.

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Pat Rassmussen and Susan Berta prepare to lay a wreath for Lolita and all the captured orcas.

Photos of August 8, 2002 Event to Commemorate Lolita's capture and the loss of over 68 other orcas to marine park capture operations



Observers gather along with life-sized Toki


Vern Olson tells what happened August 8, 1970


Carrie Tremaine, Howard Garrett, Susan Berta and Judy Lochrie walk to the water


Pat Rasmussen sings a native song as Anne-Marie van Dijk, Susan Berta and Judy Lochrie look on


Susan Berta plays flute in rememberance of those lost in Penn Cove


Carrie Tremaine watches the wreath float away

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