THE RETURN OF TOKITAE
Love Story of the Salish Sea
From 1966 to 1973, 45 Southern Resident Orcas were brutally captured and sold into captivity. At least 15 more were killed. Most of the captured orcas were breeding age females and young calves. Only one of these survives today:
For almost 50 years, Tokitae has spent her entire existence in a tank only 80 feet long and 35 feet wide. Wild Orcas swim up to 100 miles a day, yet Tokitae can barely swim four of her own body-lengths.
The Miami Seaquarium Orca Tank has been deemed illegal by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, yet Miami Seaquarium has declined to make changes.
Orcas have evolved an extraordinary sensitivity to sound in order to feed, communicate and navigate. Tokitae's small, concrete tank reflects an enormous amount of sound back at her, particularly while performing for large crowds every day.
For a human, this is akin to spending 48 years in a maze of mirrors and strobe lights. The psychological impact on beings as intelligent as orcas is nothing short of torture.
STORM SURGE RISK
In 2017, Hurricane Irma was predicted to hit Miami with a 10-15 foot storm surge. The actual water level rose to 3 feet. The height of Tokitae's tank? 4 feet.
As hurricanes increase in frequency and intensity, Tokitae is at ever increasing risk of her tank flooding with deadly, toxic stormwater.
LONELINESS AND ISOLATION
Scientists have taught us that, like humans, Orcas are incredibly intelligent and social creatures. They form families called Pods organized around matrilineal lines, and even develop dialects unique to each family.
Tokitae was stolen from the Salish Sea, her L-Pod family, and her likely mother Ocean Sun (L-25) who still swims free.
Tokitae has lived alone since her tank-mate committed suicide in 1980.
HOPE: RETURN TO THE SALISH SEA
Tokitae must be returned to her home in the Salish Sea. Lummi Nation, Orca Network and countless other organizations and individuals are working tirelessly for her return to a sea pen in the San Juan Islands where she can be given food and medical supervision as she adjusts to ocean water and hunting fish.
As Tokitae gains strength and independence, she will be reintroduced to her family and eventually join them once again in the wild.
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