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Founded 1977

Save The Whales' purpose is to educate children

and adults about marine mammals, their

environment and their preservation. 

Spyhop Orca
Photo © Maris Sidenstecker I
Orca in the wild from L-Pod, Lolita's pod,
Puget Sound, Washington


LOLITA Given Endangered Species Status


LOLITA, the orca, has been performing daily at the Miami Seaquarium for many decades after being captured on August 8, 1970 from the area of Whidbey Island off the State of Washington. The roundup included five orcas, including four babies who drowned during the capture. Lolita was and is a part of the Southern Resident Killer Whale population of orcas whose population is listed at around 80 individuals.  

When the federal government protected Puget Sound orcas as endangered species in 2005, it excluded captive animals. Organizations and others petitioned in 2013 for Lolita to be included, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) granted her endangered status in February 2015. Genetic testing linked Lolita to the Southern Resident Pod.

It was hoped by the many groups and individuals working for her release that this would help to gain her freedom. For now, it doesn't appear as if anything will change for Lolita as a round of legal battles ensues. The ruling does not mean that she will get a bigger pool, return to the wild, or change much of anything according to NOAA officials. Lolita was 4 to 6 years old (some say she was only 3-4) when she was captured in 1970 and later sent to the Miami facility.   

Her living conditions have long been criticized as her small tank is only 20 feet (6m) deep - making it the shallowest in the nation - and measures 60-by-80-feet (18 by 24m), and lacks shade from the sun. Orcas are social animals but Lolita is forced to live in this small tank in isolation.

Lolita lived for ten years with an orca named Hugo. Even though the pair mated many times, a calf was never produced. Hugo died March 4, 1980 after repeatedly smashing his head into the walls of the tank in what has been described as an act of suicide.

If Lolita were released, she would swim freely in a sea pen close to her family and in the waters where she was born. Human care would provide her with fish to eat and veterinary care. It is hoped she would learn to catch fish on her own, as Keiko did before he was released. See the

The plan is not without risk. Given the option of spending the last part of one's life confined in a small tank without companionship or living in a sea pen close to your family, it seems an apparent choice. See the video done on her behalf.   

People question whether petitions help. This victory shows that they do. The 17,000 requests supporting Lolita receiving endangered status did factor in her favor. The Miracle March for Lolita held in cities across the country and Europe on January 17, 2015 showed that people care about Lolita and other animals in captivity.



Whale Turns Up a Long Way From Home


Another incident of a whale sighted a long way from its home waters indicates the effects of global warming. The whale was seen by a female diver off the Isles of Scilly on the remote island of St. Martin's near Cornwall, England. Anna Cawthray photographed the unusual whale with her mobile phone, and she immediately suspected it was out of the ordinary. It took emails between whale experts* in the United States and Britain to conclude that it was a young bowhead whale about 2000 miles from home.

This was the first sighting of a bowhead in the United Kingdom as their usual home is in the high Arctic near the ice edge, and their closest population is off Spitzbergen far to the north of Norway. Bowheads can reach up to 70 ft in length, weigh up to 90 tons, and live up to 200 years.  The species has not been seen anywhere south of the Barents Sea, which is north of Norway.

The bowhead population was in serious decline during the early 20th  century after being slaughtered by whalers, but the cessation of commercial whaling in the latter half of the last century has allowed their numbers to recover to somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000.  

The native people of Alaska and Chukotka are legally authorized to take up to 336 bowhead whales of the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort stock during the period 2013-2018, with no more than 67 whales struck in any year and up to 15 unused strikes carried over each year.  


*Thomas A. Jefferson, Ph.D was one of the experts asked to determine the whale species. Tom heads our ¬°Viva Vaquita! coalition of non-profit organizations, individuals and scientiists working to save the vaquita, "panda of the sea." 


Thank you for signing up for our Eletters and helping us help marine mammals. We have been working for six years with NGOs, scientists and individuals to save the vaquita, a small porpoise that lives in the Sea of Cortez. We will have a special Vaquita Eletter as so much is happening, and the news is very fluid. In the end, we hope that the steps Mexico is taking will give the vaquita a chance to recover from the brink of extinction.


M1 signature   

Maris Sidenstecker I 

Executive Director, Save The Whales 

501(c)(3) nonprofit organization 



An Easy Way to Help California  

Sea Otters


Mark the California Sea Otter Fund on your California income tax return. Enter the dollar amount you wish to donate on lines 403 and/or 410 of your tax return (Form 540). If you itemize deductions, you can deduct the amount you donated on next year's return.

These donations help the recovery of the Southern Sea Otter that is a threatened species under the Federal Endangered Species Act and a Fully Protected Species under state law. The small California population, which is fewer than 3,000, is very vulnerable to oil spills, viruses, environmental pollution and white shark predation.

The donations support research by scientists studying 15 years of sea otter mortality infor- mation and recently discovered viruses previously unknown in sea otters. Understanding this information will provide a better understanding of otter deaths and contribute to recovery efforts.


Praying Otter
Photograph by
Thomas R. Kieckhefer
Thank You!

Corky at SeaWorld,
San Diego

Remember that an orca named Corky is being held at SeaWorld, San Diego? She was taken from her mother's side in 1969 at age two from waters off British Columbia. Corky is now 50 years old, and she has given birth to 7 calves in captivity; the longest that one lived was 47 days.
In 1989, Corky was attacked by Kandu V, the dominant orca at SeaWorld. Kandu
attempted to rake Corky, which is when a orca forcefully scratches another orca with its teeth. Kandu hit a gate when she charged Corky and severed an artery in her jaw. After hemorrhaging for 45 minutes, Kandu died. Her calf Orkid, 11 months old, had stayed
with his mother as she bled to death. After she died, he was fostered by Corky who has a gentle nature.
For a long time, Dr. Paul Spong worked to get Corky reunited with her family (the A5 pod) and reunited with her mother A23 (Stripe) in the waters off British Columbia. Stripe died in 2000 and there is no plan at present to get Corky released.  


See 1997 video on YouTube with  Maris SidensteckerII of Save The Whales  debating Dr. Jim McBain, a veterinarian from SeaWorld, San Diego. Be sure and read the introduction before viewing to see what was going on behind the scenes.

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