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Sunday ceremonies on Whidbey honor Lolita

photo by Dr. Terrell Newby / Courtesy of Orca Network Lolita is shown “spyhopping,” which is a behavioral trait of orcas in this region. Apparently they poke their head out of the water to check out their surroundings. The 40th anniversary of Lolita’s capture will be remembered Sunday with events in Penn Cove and Coupeville.  - Photo by Dr. Terrell Newby / Courtesy of Orca Network
photo by Dr. Terrell Newby / Courtesy of Orca Network Lolita is shown “spyhopping,” which is a behavioral trait of orcas in this region. Apparently they poke their head out of the water to check out their surroundings. The 40th anniversary of Lolita’s capture will be remembered Sunday with events in Penn Cove and Coupeville.
— image credit: Photo by Dr. Terrell Newby / Courtesy of Orca Network

Sunday, Aug. 8, marks the 40th anniversary of Lolita’s capture from her family, the Southern Resident orcas, in Penn Cove off Whidbey Island.

To commemorate this anniversary, Orca Network is holding several events throughout the day and evening on the waters and shore of Penn Cove to remember all the orcas who died during the captures or in captivity, and to honor Lolita, or Tokitae, the sole survivor of those taken from the Southern Resident orcas. Efforts continue to bring Lolita home from a Miami aquarium.

Ric O’Barry, a marine mammal specialist for Earth Island Institute and the main character of the Academy Award winning “The Cove,” will participate. O’Barry was a dolphin trainer for the “Flipper” show at the Miami Seaquarium, but when a dolphin died in his arms he was transformed into a full time activist who has fought against dolphin captivity for decades.

Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m., everyone is welcome to come to Penn Cove in a kayak, row boat, or any kind of vessel, for a ceremonial paddle/sail/motor around the perimeter of the capture site with the Cutty Sark and Indigo vessels, and a wreath ceremony on the water.

Following the on-the-water events, come to the Coupeville Wharf from 5 to 6:30 p.m. for a reception with O’Barry and other guest speakers, and view displays of the Penn Cove captures.

Concluding the event will be an evening of presentations at the Coupeville Middle School Performing Arts Center, 501 S. Main St., beginning at 6:30 p.m. with a silent auction, coffee and desserts, followed by guest speakers including O’Barry, Ken Balcomb, long time Washington Secretary of State Ralph Munro, and Howard Garrett, as well as witnesses of the captures sharing their memories and other speakers. Short archival films of Lolita’s capture and her first year in captivity will also be shown.

All events except the Cutty Sark and Indigo sails are free, though donations are welcome.

Other events marking Lolita’s 40th year in captivity will take place in Miami, Seattle, Victoria, B.C., Friday Harbor and Vallejo, Calif. For more information, contact Orca Network at info@orcanetwork.org or visit our website: www.orcanetwork.org.

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