Out of the many stories of orcas who have been condemned to a life in captivity, Lolita’s tale, in particular, appears to have struck a chord with many people all over the world. She was first captured from the waters of Puget Sound on Aug. 8, 1970, during a violent struggle with whale hunters that left several members of her pod for dead. Lolita is the only remaining survivor of those who were captured on that day, and has lived in a tiny cell at the Miami Seaquarium for over forty years.
In January, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began calling for public comments on a proposal to have Lolita – as a member of the Southern Resident orca population – listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Protection under the ESA would not automatically lead to her release, but it would at least require that the conditions under which she is kept be significantly improved.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is now urging people to get their supportive comments in as quickly as possible, as the deadline is on March 28, 2014 at 11:59 pm ET. If the NOAA receives a large amount of comments indicating that the public is in favor of granting ESA protection for Lolita, they will be much more likely to approve this course of action.
Sea Shepherd has this advice for all would-be commenters: “Please keep comments polite, and comments including scientific information, research or facts are always best.” On a more heartfelt note, they have stated, “Lolita’s home is also home for us and close to our hearts here at Sea Shepherd USA, with our headquarters in Friday Harbor, Washington state. Our greatest hope for Lolita is that she will soon be welcomed back to the waters of north Pacific by her family. If that day comes, Sea Shepherd will be there to welcome her home, too.”
So if you haven’t commented already, be sure to do so here before the March 28 deadline! The “Comment Now” button is located at the top of the article, to the right.
Image Source: Leonardo DaSilva/Flickr