Native American tribe in Miami pushing for release of Seaquarium orca

A delegation of the Lummi Nation is now in Miami, fighting for the orca release from the Miami Seaquarium. The tribe wants to return her native waters, Salish Sea.

“We come in peace. We are not protesters. We are protectors of this great earth,” Lummi Tribal Council member Freddy Lane said.

In August 1970, a baby orca – then known as Tokitea — was taken from her family and sold to the Seaquarium.  For 47 years, she has lived in the smallest whale tank in the country, performing two shows a day, seven days a week. She is known to all as Lolita. 

“Many other who protect the Salish Sea are calling for her to come home. We are the voice for the voiceless,” said Lummi Tribal Council Chairman Jay Julius.

The Lummis are now calling on the Seaquarium to bring Lolita home.”If the Seaquarium joined forces with us they can be a part of it and they can be so instrumental in making this happen and doing the right thing,” Julius said.

But the Seaqurium has been unwilling to even come to the table.  

Florida gubernatorial candidate Phillip Levine who, while he was mayor of Miami Beach lobbied for Lolita’s retirement, knows that all too well. 

“The Seaquarium does not want to hear about it. They are more interested in profits than releasing this beautiful orca,” Levine said.

The Seaquarium has argued that moving Lolita would be too risky.  She’s now 52 years old and the second-oldest orca living in captivity.

But those pushing for her release said that their argument has no merit.

“At what point is this entire plan — transition, transport, immersion into her native waters — where is the point that there is great danger?” said Howard Garrett, of the Orca Network.  “If we took an objective look and saw that it was going to be dangerous to her, we wouldn’t touch it. We wouldn’t push for her to come back,” Garrett said.

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New report puts timeline to rising water in South Florida

With South Florida at the leading edge of sea level concerns, a just-released report puts a new timeline on rising waters, and puts many coastal cities on notice. 

“We are not going to feasibly protect every coastal community in the U.S. The scope of the problem is just too large,” Kristy Dahl, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said.  

South Florida is familiar with the chronic flooding.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists report released this week, we’re barely getting our toes wet. 

“We realized that this frequent flooding is going to be setting in much sooner, decades sooner than that permanent inundation that that we think of as sea level rise,” Dahl said.

Computer simulations show South Florida’s projected sea level rise within the next century.

The new report adds tide gauge records and digital elevation models, and finds more and higher flooding in our coastal cities — and hundreds of other cities — in just the next 20 years.

“We really need to think about changing the ways we’re living along the coast, and for some coastal communities that may mean having to retreat from the coastline,” Dahl said.

Retreat?

Not here.

The cranes show more building along South Florida’s coastline. The cities are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on raising and strengthening buildings and on pumping. 

The report indicates that, eventually, may not be enough.

“It’s going to mean some difficult choices, not just for communities in South Florida but in many parts of the country,” Dahl said. “The reality is that some of it may not be able to be kept above water.”

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