50 years since bloody roundup

50 years since bloody roundup

Fifty years ago, a group of men in boats and airplanes used explosives and fear to drive a large family of Southern Resident orcas into Penn Cove and ensnare them in nets. Nearly 40 of the whales were captured and 13 killed, including calves that were cut open and filled with rocks to sink to the bottom of the Puget Sound.

The sole survivor of the Aug. 8, 1970 “orca roundup” is still being held in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium. She goes by many names, including Lolita, Tokitae and now Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut, which was a native village on Penn Cove once located near the site of her capture.

She and the other orcas have not been forgotten over the decades. The Orca Network’s annual commemoration of the tragic event, which spurred important laws protecting marine mammals, moved online to a webinar format because of the pandemic. It is 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8. Register at www.orcanetwork.org.

The virtual presentation will include live-streamed waterside ceremonies at various locations, including Penn Cove and Miami, as well as Orcas, Guemes and Lummi islands in the San Juans, according to the Orca Network. There will also be an update about the newest strategies in the ongoing efforts to secure the whale’s release.

Howard Garrett with the Orca Network said there is a new movement with new partners joining forces to prepare Tokitae’s sea pen retirement cove at Orcas Island to be ready if economic forces compel the owners to close the Seaquarium.

Garrett added that, during the webinar on Saturday, the Lummi elders and the attorney representing them will discuss plans to file a lawsuit against the Seaquarium to force the orca’s return under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

Garrett said the whale was last seen in a video from the end of December 2019 and appeared to be in excellent health. Since the Seaquarium’s shutdown because of COVID-19, there haven’t been any updates since then.

50 years since bloody roundup

More in News

Man sentenced for sexual assaulting woman last May

The 44-year-old Oak Harbor man was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

Whidbey Island man accused of dealing in child porn

A detective identified “at least 85” video files that meet the statutory description of child porn.

Island County Opportunity Council leadership transitions

Lisa Clark was the director of the Opportunity Council’s Island County office for more than 23 years.

Town ponder removal of World War II-era structure

The old concrete cistern hasn’t been utilized for 25 years.

Coupeville students on new schedule as of April 12

The new schedule allows for more in-person instruction.

Langley continues to be a passport hotspot

The National Passport Center has been directing people to Langley.

The Port of Coupeville is considering creating an industrial development district to levy a tax that could bring in millions of dollars to help it maintain its historic structures, like the century-old Coupeville Wharf, as well as expand into other areas of economic development. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Port considers tax that could raise up to $7.5 million

Port commissioners are considering creating an industrial development district.

Man, 29, killed in dirt bike accident

A 29-year-old Bellingham man died following a dirt bike accident in Clinton.

Most Read