Tokita’s health is improving, locals hope it will open the door for her return home

Fearing he would be fatally ill, Tokitae – a killer whale snatched from the Salish Sea in 1970 – is recovering, according to veterinarians.

The news was met with optimism, as activists have hoped for years that it could one day return to the waters of its ancestors.

Although many more steps remain, two recent developments offer hope: the latest news from veterinarians and the recent decision to “withdraw” Tokitae from performances.

“This is the first step for her to understand how she’s doing,” said Charles Winnick, executive director of The Whale Santuary.

Tokitae, who was named Lolita during the performance and Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut by her relatives Lummi, has lived in a small reservoir for about 52 years. Earlier this year, there was news that she was seriously ill – a new report from the vet, published by “Friends of Lolita”, shows that she is already recovering.

As Vinick told FOX 13, the fact that their independent veterinarians were even allowed to make contact was a big step. The new owners of the park, The Dolphin Company, were more open to communicating with outside groups interested in the future of Tokitae. The group is even expected to publish monthly reports online.

“Having this level of transparency, to be honest, is unprecedented for Lolita’s life,” Vinik said. “We did not have this opportunity before engaging independent veterinarians in a discussion to evaluate it.”

The aspiration goal, according to Vinick, is to move it back to the northwestern Pacific. In fact, his team has long been working on the Sacred Lands Conservancy (Sacred Seas) on a living document outlining the steps that need to be taken. However, both Vinick and Sacred Seas made it clear that they could not rush forward.

“We are leaving Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut to lead us,” said Squill-le-he-le (Reinel Morris), a member of the Lummi tribe and vice president of the Sacred Sea. “We love and respect her. She has been there for more than 52 years – so she must be in the most sensitive, loving and caring way for her. It’s not about my term. If so, I would have her at home. That’s not what’s best for her. “

Morris told FOX 13 that they were working with the Seaquarium in Miami to slowly adjust her enrichment program – they began pumping soothing, natural sounds into the stadium where her tank is. She hopes to consider adding other elements that would re-associate her with the Salish Sea, including sights and sounds that would be common here.

The history of Tokitae stretches back to the late 1960s and 1970s, when groups gathered members of Southern Resident killer whale pods and captured them for sale. Whalers would throw noise barriers into the water to graze killer whales like cattle in a narrow area – then block the entrance to get the babies out of the water. Dozens of killer whales were captured in this way. Tokitae is the only whale of these traps that is still alive.

The history of the salish whaling is even more challenging when you consider their current plight – the Tokitae is a member of the L-Pod, part of the southern killer whales. Less than 80 are alive today and are considered an endangered species in both the United States and Canada.

Although she is too old to give birth to new calves, there is hope that she can contribute to her pod. Killer whales are an extremely intelligent species with their own complex form of communication. They have complex relationships and social hierarchy.

The Lummi Nation calls the southerners qwe “lhol mechen” or “our underwater relationship”. As Morris explains, their pain is reflected in her tribe.

“We take care of all the southern killer whales,” she said. “They are our relatives – when they hurt, it reflects us. We reflect this pain in our family and in our community.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.