Beloved orca will return to Seattle after performing for 50 years

Mar 30, 2023, 9:39 AM | Updated: 12:53 pm


The orca Tokitae (MyNorthwest file photo)

(MyNorthwest file photo)

The Miami Seaquarium announced Thursday what they described as a historic initiative to return the beloved Orca “Lolita” — known locally as Tokitae — to her “home waters.”

Tokitae was only a few years old when she was captured in the Puget Sound more than 50 years ago. She was shipped to Miami, where she performed until recently.

Miami Seaquarium ending shows with aging orca Lolita

Thursday’s announcement involved the new owner of the Seaquarium, the group “Friends of Toki,” and philanthropist Jim Irsay, the current owner of the NFL franchise Indianapolis Colts.

Supporters of the effort to bring Tokitae back said their hope was renewed when the Seaquarium’s new owner, Eduardo Albor of the Dolphin Company, signaled he’d be willing to send her back to the Pacific Northwest.

“100%,” Albor said when asked if he wanted to see her retire in the sea, according to Miami’s WPLG TV. “100% committed.”

Several federal agencies would have to sign off on any plan to relocate Tokitae.

The indigenous-led nonprofit “Sacred Lands Conservancy” drafted a plan to bring the whale back, including where she’d hypothetically live. It has been drawn up and described as a large netted structure in the Salish Sea.

The Lummi Tribe has been active in trying to bring the whale home.

‘The first step in healing,’ Lummi say of push to return captured orca to the Salish Sea

In an interview on Seattle’s Morning News, a Lummi tribe member and activist, Ellie Kinley, explained the tribe shares stories about the whales, who are considered family.

“They’re our family that lives under the waves,” Kinley said. “It’s our responsibility to always take care of them, and we failed at that.”

The Orca has been a symbol of the West Coast for many thousands of years, according to the Georgia Strait Alliance, as the animal has been a symbol for many local Indigenous peoples for belief systems, art, and storytelling.

Seattle dives into professional cricket with new franchise, the Orcas

Why so much trouble for one whale? Kinley says people have not cared for the Salish Sea as they should have.

“We believe her mother’s still swimming with their southern residents,” Kinley continued. “Here’s the first step in healing. We’re going to say we are bringing your daughter home, and we are sorry.”

Although it’s unclear how well the whale, who’s lived in captivity for 50 years, would adapt to the wild again, Kinley remains confident.

“I do know that she knows her Southern Resident song, it’s been played for her, and she still recognizes it,” Kinley said.

Local News

seattle drug possession...

L.B. Gilbert and Frank Sumrall

Councilmember Nelson: Failed drug possession law is ‘not the War on Drugs’

The Seattle City Council voted 5-4 against a bill that would have given City Attorney Ann Davison the authority to prosecute people for drug possession.

1 day ago

Seattle Home for Sale...

Bill Kaczaraba

Expert: ‘We will never see interest rates of 3% or lower ever again.”

The glory days of 30-year mortgage rates of  3% or less may be in the rearview mirror.

1 day ago

rental assistance fraud...

L.B. Gilbert

6 charged in ‘one of the largest’ rental assistance fraud cases ever

Federal prosecutors call it one of the country's most prolific rental assistance fraud cases, with the culprits facing a 26-count indicment

1 day ago

Boeing lawsuit stealing...

Bill Kaczaraba

Boeing accused of stealing trade secrets in new lawsuit

Boeing is facing another lawsuit, this time, the aerospace giant is being accused of stealing trade secrets to build a moon rocket.

1 day ago

Seattle schools decrease gun violence...

L.B. Gilbert

Seattle Schools unveils new safety plan to decrease gun violence

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) announced several security improvements to help decrease gun violence across the district.

1 day ago

Funko headquarters...

Bill Kaczaraba

No fun at Funko as move from Everett goes south

Everett took a big hit when Funko moved a large part of its operations to Arizona. Now, the bobblehead company faces a class action lawsuit.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

Beloved orca will return to Seattle after performing for 50 years