Thinking of Lolita, the captive killer whale

Here’s a brief reminder that tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the capture of Lolita, a killer whale that made her home in the Salish Sea until she was pulled out of Whidbey Island’s Penn Cove and taken to the Miami Seaquarium.

At 44 or 45 years old, she is the last living orca from Puget Sound in captivity.

To commemorate the occasion, Orca Network is holding several events Sunday, beginning with a ceremonial flotilla at the capture site at 3 p.m. Then, at 5 p.m., a reception is planned at Coupeville Wharf, followed by a program at 6:30 p.m. at Coupeville Middle School. For details, check out an updated press release about the event.

Ric O’Barry, a marine mammal trainer who turned activist, is scheduled to participate in the activities. O’Barry, who once trained Flipper for television, played a key role in the Academy-Award-winning film “The Cove,” which documented the capture and slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan.

Earlier on Sunday, a protest on behalf of Lolita is planned from noon to 2 p.m. at Westlake Park, Fourth and Pine, in Seattle. See the Facebook page for the event.

If you follow Water Ways, you know that a group of activists and researchers have developed a plan that could be used to bring Lolita back to Puget Sound and attempt to reunite the orca with her extended family.

In support of that effort, Daniel Azarian, director of television commercials, has produced a public service video to call attention to the plight of Lolita. See the announcement of his contribution on PR Newswire or watch the new video on the Save Lolita website.

As you probably know, officials at the Miami Seaquarium say they have no intention of letting Lolita go.

And, while it seems incongruous to those opposed to keeping marine mammals in tanks, the Miami Seaquarium is recognizing the 40th anniversary of Lolita’s arrival at the aquarium. So far, I have not heard of any specific events planned for the anniversary date of Sept. 24, but the aquarium is collecting money in Lolita’s name to help conservation groups responding to the Gulf oil spill. For each $4 donated to the cause, admission to the marine park is being reduced by 40 percent though Oct. 21.

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