Famous Orca Whale Lolita will soon be reintroduced to her home water, the Miami Seaquarium announced Thursday. Lolita, also called Tokitae, was taken from her home waters near Whidbey Island more than 50 years ago. She is believed to be the oldest Orca Whale currently held in captivity.
According to CBS, there are multiple obstacles in the way that will delay the whale’s reintroduction to the open sea. First, Lolita must be taught to hunt and fish in ways that she has yet to be asked to do in her half-century stay at the aquarium. Also, the aging whale is facing several health complications which have seen her visit a veterinarian on multiple occasions recently. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the following:
“To all of you who care, we want to thank you for your care and concern of Toki. The most important thing is Toki’s long-term wellbeing, and together, guided by the experts, we will continue to do what’s best for her.”
The Dolphin Company, which owns the aquarium, released a statement on Twitter:
“Today, March 30th, for the first time ever, a private company with marine mammals under human care, and a non-profit animal welfare organization, executed a binding agreement with one goal – return the beloved Lolita to her home waters.
“Lolita will receive the highest quality care as the team works to make relocation possible in the next 18 to 24 months.
“We thank Jim Irsay, Friends of Lolita, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and everyone who has been part of this incredible milestone.”
According to Fox News, the operation to send Lolita back to the Ocean will cost somewhere between $15 and $20 million and will be to be approved by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. A C-17 military transport aircraft is the proposed vehicle that would take the massive whale across country and into the waters of the Pacific Northwest.
Orca whales are the largest dolphins and some of the largest oceanic mammals. NOAA calls the Orca, also known as the Killer Whale, “the ocean’s top predator.” The population of Killer Whales is under constant threat due to hunting and capture by the aquarium industry. Although it is illegal to capture an Orca for an aquarium display in the USA, it is still a problem worldwide; according to NOAA, who writes:
“Hunters and fishermen once targeted killer whales. As a result, historical threats to killer whales included commercial hunting and culling to protect fisheries from killer whales. In addition, although live capture of killer whales for aquarium display and marine parks no longer occurs in the United States, it continues to remain a threat globally. Today, some killer whale populations face many other threats, including food limitations, chemical contaminants, and disturbances from vessel traffic and sound. Efforts to establish critical habitat, set protective regulations, and restore prey stocks are essential to conservation, especially for the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population.”
Killer Whale racing with a boat…pic.twitter.com/TN3cJIMYUy
— Physics-Astronomy✨🔭 (@Physdashastro) December 27, 2019
Featured image is a screenshot from an embedded tweet.
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