West Seattle, Washington
Our hotline (206-293-6302) rang this afternoon – someone wondering who to call about a dead porpoise. In West Seattle, if it’s a stranded (dead or alive) marine mammal, you call Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network, we replied – 206-905-SEAL. We just found out what happened later, with local wildlife advocate Kersti Muul sending photos and this report:
This evening there was a washed-up female harbor porpoise on the beach at low tide just South of the Lighthouse…. Initial rudimentary scans appear to reveal some issue with birthing perhaps. She was so beautiful, practically flawless and beautifully designed by nature…. I photographed her for evidence of transient orca interference but found none.
Seal Sitters was there with her and a group of us helped carry her to a private driveway where she was to be picked up for necropsy by Cascadia Research Collective.
As noted by NOAA last year, harbor porpoises had dwindled in Puget Sound until a big comeback in recent years
An amazing story that unfolded just west of here 15 years ago, with many West Seattleites involved, will be retold and celebrated starting this Saturday. Donna Sandstrom of WS-based The Whale Trail shares the explanation and invitation:
“Celebrate Springer!” marks the 15th anniversary of the dramatic rescue in the waters off of Vashon Island of the orphaned orca Springer (A-73) and the heroic efforts by Washington and British Columbia teams working together to return her safely to her home 300 miles north in Johnstone Strait at the north end of Vancouver Island.
Today, Springer is still healthy and in 2013 had her first calf, Spirit. They are most often seen on the north central British Columbia coast and occasionally return to Johnstone Strait in summer.
The 2002 Springer rescue team will reconvene at 1 PM on Saturday, May 20, at the Vashon Theater to tell “Springer’s Story,” first-hand accounts of how Springer was identified, rescued and rehabilitated.
“Celebrate Springer!” will also feature a dance performance by Le La La Dancers, who were present at Springer’s release, and followed at 5 PM by The Whale Trail sign dedication at the Point Robinson Lighthouse Park.
Sponsors for the Vashon Theater event are Jody Peetz and Pete Schroeder, Marine Mammal Veterinarian. Tickets are available in advance from Vashon Theater tickets (go here).
The Point Robinson location has been identified by The Whale Trail as one of the best places to watch whales from shore. The new sign was funded by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and customized for the Point Robinson site with the assistance of Vashon resident Rebecca Benson, Point Robinson historian Bruce Haulman and Vashon Park staff Eric Wyatt.
“Life is filled with magical moments,” said Vashon Parks executive director Elaine Ott-Rocheford. “I count myself lucky to hold a front row seat to many spectacular sights from our own beloved park system. We are thrilled about the new Whale Trail sign being posted at Point Robinson Park, as it provides a ready education about the natural marine life wonders to be viewed from the park’s shoreline. The posting of the sign represents a perfect tribute to the story of Springer, the orphaned Orca, who was rescued off the north end of Vashon Island.”
The new Whale Trail sign is one of three funded by the state Fish and Wildlife Department. Others will be dedicated in the summer at Fay Bainbridge State Park and at Point Defiance.
“WDFW provides services that link our quality of life to healthy natural resources and ecosystems,” said Deputy Chief Mike Cenci with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police. ”It’s a privilege to be a partner in this project where the public can view and appreciate the spectacle of these Northwest icons from shore. Watch for and wave at the Fish and Wildlife Police Boat that ensures protection of the whales.”
“Springer’s story is an unqualified success – the only project of its kind in history,” said Donna Sandstrom, director of The Whale Trail and organizer of the Vashon Island event. “We hope her story inspires people to join us in working on issues facing our endangered southern resident orcas today, with the same urgency, courage and resolve.”
“Celebrate Springer!” events will continue in June and July with programs at NOAA Fisheries, Whale Trail Orca Talk, Whale Trail sign dedications, and conclude with a three-day program at Telegraph Cove, British Columbia, where Springer was released in 2002 and rejoined her Northern Resident family.
Out of the inbox this afternoon, from Lorabeth:
I wanted other WSB readers to know there is a dive-bombing crow guarding territory immediately in front of the entrance to the Admiral Branch of the Seattle Public Library.
He hit me in the head and made several more attempts as I hurried to get out of the area. I think there may be a nest in one of the trees near the front steps.
I called the library and also alerted them. Will wear a hard hat next time!
WDFW’s ‘Living With Wildlife‘ one-sheet about crows includes info about dive-bombing.
10:53 AM: A big turnout of birders got the party started early at this morning’s Urban Bird Treaty City celebration at Lincoln Park. The “treaty” covers the entire city of Seattle, but Lincoln Park was chosen for the event, which began with two guided bird walks at 10 am (that’s one group in our photo above), and is about to segue into the 11 am ceremony. The Urban Bird Treaty program is almost two decades old, and has these three goals:
*Protect, restore, and enhance urban/suburban habitats for birds.
*Reduce urban/suburban hazards to birds.
*Educate and engage urban/suburban citizens in caring about and conserving birds and their habitats.
Read more about the program here. Updates ahead, as this morning’s event continues!
12:19 PM: Just back from the park, where the celebration continued with the actual signing:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) May 5, 2017
The pens were wielded by Robyn Thorson, director of the Pacific Region for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Jesús Aguirre, Seattle Parks and Recreation superintendent. That followed almost an hour of speeches, punctuated by an adorable performance:
Performance by the adorable Whizz Kids Academy students from Magnolia @ Urban Bird Treaty celebration pic.twitter.com/fqMmqZERmD
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) May 5, 2017
Two short nature songs were presented by preschoolers from Whizz Kids Academy in Magnolia. They weren’t the only youth representatives:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) May 5, 2017
15-year-old Louis Kreemer, a Roosevelt High School student, was introduced as the youngest student in the current local Master Birder class. He noted that the Urban Bird Treaty comes with some direct expectations for us all, including keeping cats indoors, architecture design that minimizes risk to birds, and some “Lights Out” nights, because of the importance of protecting birds. A political representative spoke too:
Linh Thai, from US Rep. Adam Smith‘s office, noted that “conservation is a nonpartisan issue,” and said, “If the birds and bees are gone, we’re next.”
Before the official signing, Superintendent Aguirre told what he called his “bird story”:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) May 5, 2017
A few more photos and notes to come. And on the subject of what else you can do – here’s how to protect birds from colliding with your windows.
Two notes from Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network tonight.
First, harbor-seal pup Taffy, who we’ve told you about before, is now in rehab. From Seal Sitters’ Robin Lindsey:
Early Saturday morning we were finally able to capture seal pup Taffy, whose health issues were a growing concern, especially because of the potentially dangerous location of her chosen stretch of beach at Alki. After coming ashore almost every day for over a month (with the exception of a couple of weekends when the beach was so busy with activity), her health had begun to take a downturn. Thankfully, she started out as a quite robust, older and wiser seal pup, now estimated to be 8 or 9 months old. …
Thanks to the public for being tolerant of a semi-permanent tape closure of the small grass area along the sea wall, right above her favorite little nook. Because she was so wary and skittish, she was often scared back into Puget Sound by people standing too close above her. Even with the tape buffer zone, Taffy could not get undisrupted rest. It’s tough for wildlife to find quiet spots to rest and forage in urban areas.
Taffy spent the weekend being stabilized and treated at PAWS.
Robin was awaiting an update on Taffy’s injuries and possible infection and plans to update Blubberblog here.
Meantime, want to volunteer with Seal Sitters? Here’s your next chance to jump in!
Seal Sitters will be holding our volunteer training/Spring Session on Saturday morning, May 13th – RSVP is required to ensure seating.
For details about the training and to learn more about Seal Sitters and NOAA West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network, please visit our website.
The photo above shows volunteer Sarah, who enthusiastically protected Taffy and educated the public – even in the cold rain. We are always in need of additional great, reliable volunteers!
10:44 AM: Above, that’s Fauntleroy Creek volunteer Dennis Hinton with students from Genesee Hill Elementary, one of more than a dozen schools releasing salmon fry into the creek this spring. Before release season is out, creek steward Judy Pickens tells WSB, volunteers will have worked with about 750 students from all over our area. This is all a followup to a big day in January when volunteers delivered salmon eggs to local schools, who started learning about the life cycle by nurturing them until the fry are set free. More photos later!
11:54 AM: Added:
Shortly after arrival, there’s always a briefing. And of course, the stars of the show are along for the ride:
The GHES students also got to meet EarthCorps volunteers who are working this week in nearby Kilbourne Ravine:
From left, above, are EC’s Nathan, Imani, and Ellen.
We told you recently about Lincoln Park joining Seattle Audubon’s Neighborhood Bird Project. This Friday, the park will again be on centerstage of the local birding world – as the site of a ceremony that will declare all of Seattle to be an Urban Bird Treaty City. And you’re invited. Here’s the announcement from Seattle Parks:
On May 5, 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) joins Seattle Audubon, Audubon Washington, Heron Habitat Helpers, Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other partners to sign a treaty designating the City of Seattle as an Urban Bird Treaty City.
The treaty-signing celebration will begin at Lincoln Park in Seattle on May 5 at 11 a.m. Seattle Audubon volunteers will lead a bird walk prior to the treaty signing at the park at 10 a.m. The public is encouraged to attend both the bird walk and signing ceremony.
The event will recognize Seattle’s migratory bird conservation and education accomplishments, and celebrate the renewed commitment of partners to develop programs in Seattle to protect birds and their habitat, as well as connect people to the natural world.
The Urban Bird Treaty program is a collaborative effort between federal, state, and municipal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions to create bird-friendly environments and provide citizens, especially youth, with opportunities to connect with nature through birding and conservation.
“We recognize the important role urban areas play in conserving migratory birds,” said Seth Shteir, Conservation Manager at Seattle Audubon Society. “By becoming an Urban Bird Treaty City, we hope to inspire Seattleites to keep the city healthy and safe for birds and people.”
Today there are more than 25 Urban Bird Treaty cities across the nation working to conserve and restore bird habitat. Seattle will fill an important missing link as it joins San Francisco, Portland, and Anchorage as an Urban Bird Treaty City, thus protecting the Pacific Flyway – a migratory super highway for birds.
“Migratory bird conservation is only possible through collaboration with partners,” said Robyn Thorson, Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific Region. “We are proud to recognize the efforts of many diverse partners in the Seattle area whose work has led to this milestone signing, and eager to see what the continued power of collaboration will produce for birds in the Puget Sound area.”
“At Seattle Parks and Recreation, our mission is to support healthy people, a healthy environment, and strong communities. The Urban Bird Treaty program will help us achieve all three of these goals by encouraging Seattle residents to be active and connect to nature through birding opportunities at local parks and open spaces, and by providing educational programs and volunteer opportunities that bring together diverse groups of residents, especially youth,” said Jesús Aguirre, Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation.
“I am pleased to collaborate with our municipal, academic, and non-profit partners to designate Seattle as an Urban Bird Treaty City. Seattle has been an environmental leader of historic proportions, and the Urban Bird Treaty program helps build upon our rich tradition of conserving urban wildlife habitats. This program not only helps protect the vital Pacific Flyway—a migratory super highway for birds along the West Coast—it also supports new education opportunities for residents, especially young people, so they can learn about the unique birds and ecosystems of our beautiful city,” said Debra Juarez, Seattle City Councilmember and Committee Chair to Parks, Waterfront, Libraries, and Seattle Center.
Launched in 1999, the Urban Bird Treaty program emphasizes habitat conservation through invasive species control, native plant restoration, bird-safe building programs, bird and habitat monitoring, and education programs.
The celebration will be held near Lincoln Park’s north play area.
What you see in Kersti Muul‘s photo above aren’t bubbles – they’re herring eggs. And their presence is “a big deal,” we’re hearing from her and from “Diver Laura” James tonight. This area is not a documented Puget Sound spawning ground for herring (this infosheet shows the areas that are), so wildlife watchers have nothing to compare it to – but they’re seeing not only the eggs, but also sea lions offshore feasting on the herring (that explains the second photo in this gallery we published early today, as well as other reports of sea-lion groups offshore last weekend), and gulls with beakfuls of herring:
Kersti says, “I encourage people to be on the lookout for it as well, and to tread lightly right now in the nearshore during these very low tides!” She has been in contact with the state Fish and Wildlife Department, as has Diver Laura, who says WDFW will be sending somebody up for a firsthand look. Here’s a closeup photo she shared tonight:
Because this isn’t a historic spawning ground, the state hasn’t historically sampled here, so, she explains, “we simply have zero data,” and it’s not known yet whether this is a return or a cycle. Both point out that the significance of this might also be future effects on construction and other activities on the shore, since without documentation of this previously, there are no rules/laws about habitat protection.
P.S. Here’s more background information about herring in Puget Sound. Followups to come!
7:15 PM: Thanks to Jason, who’s been updating us on southbound orcas that might make it to West Seattle before dusk – newest update, they’re passing Golden Gardens Park (west of Ballard). Let us know if you see them!
7:33 PM: Another update – they’re reported to be crossing the mouth of Elliott Bay.
7:50 PM: In view from Alki (per another texter).
9:51 AM: Photo added – thanks to David Hutchinson for the view of an orca passing the north end of Constellation Park around 8 pm.
6:09 PM: Thanks for the tips – we’ve had scattered reports of orcas in the area this afternoon but right now, multiple reports that they’re visible off Blake Island, headed north. Let us know if you see them!
7:03 PM: Just got a text (206-293-6302 is our 24/7 number) from someone who saw them from the Bainbridge-Seattle ferry. So if you’re looking … they’re still out there, and there’s still enough light at this point of the evening to facilitate whale-watching!
One more tale of kindness before night’s end … this one, like the one we featured earlier today, happened in The Admiral District.
The photo is from Monica, who first messaged us this afternoon asking for advice on who to contact to help with ducklings that fell into a storm drain near Admiral/44th. Within minutes, she reported that bystander teamwork resolved the ducks’ dilemma:
With the help of a security guard at Bank of America, about 5 other people, and a really patient line of traffic on Admiral Way, we were able to lift the grate, hold a man while he hung upside down and grabbed the five (ducklings), and reunite them with the mama. The birds were so relieved and it was quite emotional seeing them all reunited. A big shoutout to the security guard who directed all the traffic!
The photo was from after the rescue – Monica says they followed the duck family a while to be sure they wouldn’t head back into traffic. This time of year, watch out for bird families everywhere … a duck family was also seen recently crossing the road in Fauntleroy’s Endolyne business district
Even if you’re not a full-fledged birder, you know West Seattle is a great place for bird-watching. And now it’s drawn a special designation related to that: Kersti Muul tells us that Lincoln Park is now part of Seattle Audubon‘s Neighborhood Bird Project:
The NBP started in 1995 and Lincoln Park is the first new addition in over a decade!
Basically, the NBP utilizes citizen science to monitor species diversity throughout the city of Seattle.
Audubon volunteers, under the guidance of a group leader for each park (I am the leader for Lincoln Park), conduct bird surveys once a month on a set date and time. The data we gather is then entered into a master database. The data are used to monitor urban bird abundance, assess the effectiveness of restoration projects, and to educate volunteers regarding their neighborhood habitat, phenology, etc.
Audubon encourages volunteers to pick a park that is in their neighborhood for this reason, as it makes them a stronger and better educated advocate for their locale. Anyone interested can contact Toby Ross, science manager at Seattle Audubon (email@example.com).
You can find out more about the NBP here.
Seattle Audubon, by the way, is the source for the BirdWeb infopages we link to species names in the captions of the bird photos featured atop many morning previews on WSB (thanks to the wonderful local photographers who share them, some of whom are involved in the NBP) – BirdWeb provides a wealth of information about each species found in Washington, including what the birds look like, what they sound like, and where their habitats and ranges are.
It’s not really spring until one of our area’s wonderful wildlife photographers shares a photo of a Canada goose with at least one downy yellow gosling … this is the first one we’ve received this year. Mark Wangerin photographed them along Harbor Avenue SW – drive/ride carefully in that area, as they’ve been known to cross the road.
12:36 PM: Thanks to the texter who just let us know that local orca fans are tracking two groups of transient orcas headed this way (northbound) – one along the east side of Vashon, one along the west side. According to Orca Network commenters, they could be in view off West Seattle’s west shore before too long. Please let us know if you see them! Comment, or text/call 206-293-6302 – thanks!
2:07 PM: Texter says whales are visible now from Lowman Beach!
2:37 PM: And now a text that two males are passing Alki Point.
We featured some photos of Saturday’s orca visit while they were in the area – and tonight, we have more photos, this time courtesy of Kersti Muul. She explains that her photos show “T102 and his Mama T101 passing by Alki Point Lighthouse yesterday, heading south at 2:15 PM.”
Kersti told us, “They were breathtakingly close and stunning in the bright sun. There were dozens of people on shore screaming and hooting and hollering. It made me cry to see the community so enthralled by these whales. As a volunteer, my favorite thing is when someone sees them for the first time, and having a part in that process as someone once did for me. It NEVER gets old.”
Kersti also shared two photos of the research boat with Mark and Maya Sears “to show you just how LARGE these guys are. In this (next) photo it is T100E in the front and T100C in the rear.”
The transient orcas are a completely different population from the residents. One big difference – their diet includes smaller marine mammals such as seals and sea lions, while the residents subsist almost entirely on fish, primarily salmon.
P.S. One more reminder for everyone interested in whales – The Whale Trail‘s next event, featuring researcher John Calambokidis talking about the increase in humpback and gray whales in Puget Sound, is Thursday at 7 pm at the Dakota Place Park Building; tickets are available here.
2:02 PM: Just got two texts reporting orcas passing West Seattle! Both say the whales are transient orcas, southbound in the Alki Point vicinity.
2:45 PM: In the comment section, an update from Herongrrrl: “Closer to Lincoln Park” right now.
3:23 PM: Just added photos by Gary Jones from Alki/Alki Point vicinity earlier. (Orca Network says that’s a research boat with them, in the second photo.) Gary also sent this one with “harbor porpoises going the other way”:
3:55 PM: As of a few minutes ago, commenter SS says, they’re south of West Seattle and still headed SB.
6:20 PM: Donna Sandstrom of The Whale Trail shares info about the visitors in this comment. (By the way, The Whale Trail’s next event is coming up Thursday at the Dakota Place Park Building – find out about the increase in humpbacks and grays in Puget Sound!)
7:28 PM: Chris Frankovich says the orcas are headed back northbound, and shares this photo:
Chris says this shows them off The Arroyos.
They’re the whales we talk about the most, but orcas are not the only whales in our waters – increasingly, humpbacks and grays are turning up in Puget Sound too. Sometimes as beautiful sights – sometimes as tragedies, as with the humpback death south of the Fauntleroy ferry dock last August. Among the researchers and experts who came to the scene was John Calambokidis. One week from tonight, he’ll be the guest speaker presented by The Whale Trail in the historic building at Dakota Place Park (4303 California SW). Here’s the announcement:
“The New Giants of the Salish Sea: Humpback and Gray Whales Discover Our Waters”
Presentation by John Calambokidis
Thursday, April 20, 7:00 – 8:30 pm.
New research reveals insights into the return of two magnificent whales to the Salish Sea and the mysteries of their lives. Humpback whales who once roamed these waters hundreds of years ago have returned in spectacular numbers. See some of the new research documenting this return, why it has occurred and some of the implications.
Gray whales migrate along the Washington coast and some feed in outer coast waters but one intrepid group, nicknamed the Sounders, has discovered a highly profitable but very risky feeding strategy in northern Puget Sound. New research and underwater video taken by the whales themselves reveals their incredible feeding strategy from a unique perspective.
Join researcher John Calambokidis, a founder of Cascadia Research Collective who has studied large whales for over 30 years both in our waters and throughout the eastern North Pacific.
Buy tickets now to reserve your seat. And hurry! This will likely sell out.
About the Speaker
John Calambokidis is a Senior Research Biologist and one of the founders of Cascadia Research Collective, a non-profit research organization formed in 1979 based in Olympia, Washington. He periodically serves as an Adjunct Faculty at the Evergreen State College teaching a course on marine mammals. His primary interests are the biology of marine mammals and the impacts of humans.
John has served as Project Director of over 200 projects. He has authored two books on marine mammals (on blue whales and a guide to marine mammals) as well as more than 150 publications in scientific journals and technical reports. He has conducted studies on a variety of marine mammals in the North Pacific from Central America to Alaska. He serves as Project Manager of the Southern California Behavioral Response Study and has directed long-term research on the status, movements, and underwater behavior of blue, humpback, and gray whales. Some of his recent research has included attaching tags to whales with suction cups to examine their feeding behavior and vocalizations.
John’s work has been covered on shows by National Geographic, Discovery Channel, BBC, and others. In 2012 he received the American Cetacean Society’s John Heyning Award for Lifetime Achievement in Marine Mammal Science.
Tickets are available online – $10 general, $5 for kids under 12 – buy yours here.
Thanks to the texter who sent word of a late-night double coyote sighting: Two in the 5600 block of 35th SW [map]. They wanted to be sure people in the area knew about it before letting their pets roam outdoors; researchers say coyotes’ diets actually includes more wild small animals – rodents, in particular – than domesticated ones. The sightings reports we’ve received over the years are archived here; state experts’ advice on coexisting with coyotes is here.
When we first mentioned Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network‘s concerns about a seal pup nicknamed Taffy, who’s been coming and going from a stretch of Alki Beach for two weeks, they described her as healthy. Now, that’s changing, and they are asking you to please keep your distance:
This morning she tried to come ashore, but was scared away repeatedly by people gathering on the sidewalk above her – this, even though they were standing behind the yellow tape – still far too close to the 7- to 8-month-old weaned pup. The pup is terribly sensitive to activity even 50 yards away, much less 20 feet. She gave up after about 5 attempts and we did not see her the remainder of the day and on into this evening. It is imperative that harbor seal pups get stress-free rest out of the water.
Taffy appears to have some kind of trauma to her front foreflippers, though we have not been able to sight any specific wounds. The first few days we observed her, she would not bear weight on her left flipper. Now she will not use either one. This makes her terribly vulnerable on land to people and off-leash dogs.
We have seen a rapid decline over the past week as she has lost weight, is dehydrated, and appears to now have some lung issues, most likely lungworm infestation. While trying to come ashore this morning, we could actually hear her hoarse breathing and cough – not a good sign.
It is unusual for Seal Sitters to leave a tape perimeter in place when there is no seal onshore. However, under this special circumstance, we have been leaving tape intact on the sea wall above small bit of beach she prefers, as well as leaving stakes and tape on the beach when the incoming/outgoing tide permits.
We ask that people please respect the perimeter – even if you can’t see Taffy inside it. Often, she crawls up in between rocks and cannot be seen. Since she is now struggling with health issues, her haulout patterns have changed and we can’t predict when she will try to find rest. If you see her onshore, please don’t gather directly above her on the sea wall. Observe her from either end of the perimeter and please call Seal Sitters’ hotline at 206-905-SEAL (7325) if volunteers are not onsite, as that means we are not aware Taffy is on land at this dangerous location. She needs space.
Seal Sitters First Responders had hopes of capturing the skittish pup today and transporting for evaluation and treatment. Capture will be very challenging because of the location and her hyper-awareness – she stays just a few feet at most from the water’s edge. Sadly, we anticipate her health will rapidly decline.
If you haven’t already noticed the taped-off perimeter in the past two weeks, the area in question is east/north of the main sandy stretch of Alki; if you are walking/running in the area, consider crossing to the inland sidewalk until you’re past where the tape is.
It’s been seven hours since our first report today of orcas in the area – and now a caller tells us they’re right off West Seattle; he’s watching from the Don Armeni Boat Ramp vicinity. Just checked the Orca Network thread and they too have someone seeing orcas in Elliott Bay. As always, sighting reports appreciated – in comments or via text/voice at 206-293-6302 – thank you!
8:33 AM: Thanks to Kersti Muul for the first tip – orcas are back in central Puget Sound today! As Orca Network commenters also are chronicling, they were seen by ferry riders – including state ferries and the Vashon Water Taxi – headed for Rich Passage, the waterway to and from Bremerton – but they could just as easily head back this way, so we’re publishing this heads-up. Let us know if you saw/see them!
1:28 PM: The orcas have spent the past few hours delighting fans in Kitsap waters – here’s a photo gallery on KitsapSun.com.
More than 100 people gathered on Alki this afternoon to spotlight the plight of a Puget Sound orca who has lived in captivity thousands of miles away for almost half a century.
The Miami Seaquarium calls her Lolita. Here, she is known as Tokitae. Advocates have long pushed for her to be set free so she can live out her life back in her home waters, where there’s a plan for a “sea pen” that would be her home before a potential transition to open waters.
This was a march in solidarity with a gathering in Miami dubbed the “Miracle March.” Organizers included Orca Network founder Howard Garrett, and the marchers heard from Duwamish Tribe council member Ken Workman, welcoming them to Duwamish land and waters, and Paul Chey’okten Wagner from Protectors of The Salish Sea, praying in the Salish language for Tokitae’s return.
This webpage tells her story, including that the orca believed to be her mother is still alive. She is the last surviving orca from among those captured in local waters in the 1970s. The Miami park owners, so far, show no interest in releasing her; this Miami news report includes their statement.