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Founded 1977

Save The Whales' purpose is to educate children

and adults about marine mammals, their

environment and their preservation. 



Release and Retirement Plan


The captive orca Lolita is subject to a rule proposal that would grant her equal status with her family in the wild. Before her capture over 44 years ago, Lolita was a member of the "L" pod of Southern Resident orcas. In a violent roundup, she was one of seven young whales captured in 1970 in Puget Sound, Washington. By 1987, all 45 orcas taken from their famillies in this notorious capture had died, except for Lolita.

Sold to Miami Seaquarium after capture, she lives in an illegally-sized tank that is too small for a large animal like Lolita. Numerous efforts to correct her illegal living conditions by various animal-rights groups have not been successful. To get a glimpse into Lolita's life, see video of Lolita with an interview by Dr. Ingrid Visser. 

Originally she shared her tank with an orca named Hugo. Even though they mated several times, Lolita never gave birth to a calf. Hugo committed suicide when he rammed his head into the side of the tank and died from an aneurysm. Since Hugo's death on March 4, 1980,  Lolita has lived in the so-called Whale Bowl with a pair of Pacific white-sided dolphins.  

The Southern Resident orcas consist of three distinct pods (J, K and L) that live and travel in Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca off the State of Washington. In 2005, they were listed as endangered.  At present only 84 of these orcas remain in the wild. According to the Orca Network, Lolita still calls out in the unique language used by her family members. Each orca pod has its own dialect.  View this moving Public Service Announcement.  


Spyhop - Maris Sidenstecker I
©Maris Sidenstecker I 
Juan de Fuca Strait

With the NOAA rule proposal announcement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has accepted a petition from animal-rights groups to extend Endangered Species Act protection to Lolita. USFWS recently concluded that captive animals cannot be assigned a different legal status from their wild counterparts.  

Howard Garrett, co-founder and president of the Orca Network, said that it is only one of several hurdles that Lolita will face to gain her freedom. He believes that if she is successfully listed, it is likely that she will be freed. USFWS spokesman, Brian Gorman, said it's possible she may not be freed, but she could obtain improvements in her living conditions.

You can read about Lolita's retirement plan to San Juan Island at sea pen proposal. 



New Species of Humpback Dolphin  


Another species of humpback dolphin was found in the fall of 2013 off Australia. This has led scientists to believe that rather than two species of humpback dolphins, there are four. Scientists have debated for years about the number of species of humpback dolphin within the group's genus, Sousa.

The species has not yet been named but it has been identified through a decade-long scientific collaboration. Physical and genetic samples were collected from throughout their range. Samples from West Africa, the Pacific Ocean and off the coast of Australia were examined. Only two species were recognized: The Atlantic humpback dolphin and the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin. To determine additional species, DNA was looked at as well as physical characteristics including the length of dolphins' beaks and number and position of their teeth. The findings suggested four specimens of humpback dolphin, not two. Researchers had previously proposed three species: one off of West Africa (S.teuszii), one in the central and west Indian Ocean (S. plumbea), and one in the eastern Indian and west Pacific Oceans (S. chinensis). The as-yet unnamed fourth species off the coast of Australia was a surprise. The dolphins were known but it was not realized they were a different species.

Survival of the new species is questionable as it is unknown how many of these dolphins exist off Australia. They may already be at highly vulnerable or even endangered levels. Their main threats are habitat degradation due to coastal development, mining and resource exploitation, and the shipping associated with mining developments.

Last month's Eletter described a newly discovered dolphin species in the Amazon River of Brazil given the scientific name Inia araguaiaensis after the Araguaia River Basin where scientists discovered it.



Children Take Action Against Captivity


Photograph © Ladeen Sklair 

Children can use their creativity to spread the word about captive orcas. Go to our website to find out how you can take action! Make signs, a video, or artwork and take action for captive orcas.
Email your photo to us with the name of your school or club and the city, state and grade level of your school. We will post selected entries on our website or Facebook. 
The movie Blackfish has exposed the deprivation and boredom suffered by captive orcas and other dolphins. They need our help and support.

One class made a statement about a planned school trip to SeaWorld. After viewing Blackfish, students at Point Dume School, Malibu, California, made a statement by managing to get a planned field trip to SeaWorld cancelled. Their story is on our Facebook page.

Seeing a captive animal performing tricks does not educate people about the lives of orcas in the wild. Link to this site for more information on captivity.   



Save The Vaquita Day - July 12, 2014


This important date is to help with efforts to save the vaquita, the most endangered porpoise in the world. In our March Eletter, we will report on some of the things that are happening to help vaquita. 
New species of dolphins may be fleeting unless they receive protection from the practices around the world that kill them - gillnets, habitat degradation, pollution, seismic and acoustic surveys, and slaughters. Save The Whales is working hard to save the vaquita, a small porpoise in the northern Sea of Cortez, Mexico. Its population has dwindled because of incidental catch in gillnet fisheries. This is true for other small dolphins and porpoises in near-coastal sites around the world.

   M1 signature




Maris Sidenstecker I 

Executive Director, Save The Whales 

501(c)(3) nonprofit organization  

  Voted Top-Rated NonProfit 2013    

Decision for  
Orca Morgan 
Still Not Determined  

The High Court in the Netherlands has still not announced its decision for the orca Morgan that was due February 19, 2014.

When it is announced, Save The Whales will post the decision on Facebook. 

Morgan was taken from the Wadden Sea off the northwest coast of the Netherlands in June 2010. Suffering from emaciation and dehydration, she was to be released after recovery. This did not happen.
At issue in the High Court decision is whether the export license to transport Morgan to Spain from the Netherlands was legal.
She remains in terrible living conditions at a facility in Loro Parque, the Canary Islands. 

If I Were  
a Whale

I would dodge spears 
that try to hurt me,
and avoid men 
who want my heart.

Written at Age 9 
Mackenzie Sebok





Use State Tax Return to 

Help the  

Sea Otter Fund


If you're a Californian, when you file your state tax return this year, please make a donation to the California Sea Otter Fund. Look for Line 410 labeled California Sea Otter Fund, under Voluntary Contributions. Enter whatever amount you wish to donate ($1 or more). The funds will support critical otter research and conser-vation efforts, 


Otter - TK
©Thomas R. Kieckhefer.


Last year's otter census rose slightly but otters face serious threats such as oil spills, pollution and disease. Once they numbered in the hundreds of thou- sands, but today there are fewer than 2,800 sea otters along the California coast. They face continuous threats as they struggle to make a comeback.  

Contributions to the California Sea Otter Fund through state income tax returns funds research that is critical to otter survival. 

The California Franchise Tax Board sets a target amount that the program has to raise in order to be on the form the following year. This year's amount is $277,666. For the last six years, Californians have dug deep and donated enough for the tax check-off to return. When filling out your California state tax form, don't forget the amazing otters.


Contribute to Save The Whales 
Graphic by
Nodar Kipshidze

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