Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Fundraising
  • Green Whale
  • Kids blogs
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Scottish Dolphin Centre
  • Stop whaling
End captivity background

Uncovering the dark side of captivity

Last week we launched our major new campaign to reveal and uncover the dark side...
Bottlenose dolphins © Christopher Swann

On the anniversary of the massacre of 1,423 dolphins, what’s changed?

One year ago today, 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, including mothers with calves and pregnant females,...
Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus) Gulf of California. The tail of a sperm whale.

To protect whales, we must stop ignoring the high seas

Almost two-thirds of the ocean, or 95% of the habitable space on Earth, are sloshing...
A dolphin plays in front of the WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay

Sharing our Spey Bay stories – tell us yours

2022 is Scotland's Year of Stories, a year in which stories inspired by, created or...
Orcas in Australia

Did orcas help rescue entangled humpback whale?

Kidzone - quick links Fun Facts Our Goals Curious kids Kids blogs Fantastic fundraisers Gallery...
An orca named 'Hulk' off Caithness, Scotland

My amazing week watching orcas in Scotland

Orca Watch's 10th anniversary event in the far north of Scotland was exhilarating with a...

Faroes dolphin hunt review – disappointing is an understatement

I wasn't alone in hoping that substantial changes would be made as a result of...
Minke whale - V Mignon

We told them this would happen! Time to halt cruel whale experiments

An ill-conceived and so far ill-fated joint US/ Norwegian experiment to test minke whales' reaction...

WDC supports petition to list Lolita in US Endangered Species Act

WDC has written to the United States’ National Marine Fisheries Service in support of a petition filed jointing by Animal Defense League Fund, PETA and The Orca Network to list Lolita, a female orca held in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium in the US Endangered Species Act, along with the rest of the Southern Resident orca population. US law requires Federal agencies to publish notices of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register to enable public participation in the decision-making process through the provision of comments in support or opposition.

Lolita was captured along with 11 other Southern Resident orcas in 1970 in the waters of Washington State. Five other orcas, including four calves, died during the capture. All the other orcas captured from this population died within five years of the capture, as did another Southern Resident and Lolita’s pool mate, Hugo, who died in 1980. Since then, Lolita has remained with no others of her kind in a tank that does not even meet the inadequate requirements of US legislation for the keeping of orcas in captivity.

The Southern Resident population of orcas was listed as endangered in 2005 and continues to face a large host of threats from pollution, increased shipping activity, including personal watercraft and commercial whale-watch boats, as well as concerns over availability of their preferred prey (Chinook salmon). Past live captures for the aquarium industry is thought to have contributed to their endangered status. In spite of there being no logical or legal reason for Lolita’s exclusion from the listing, it is thought she was excluded because she is in captivity. Lolita meets all the criteria for listing.

WDC also supports Lolita’s rehabilitation in a sea pen in her natural waters, with the possibility of release into her wild population, which could contribute to the long-term conservation of the Southern Residents by adding another individual to the population at best, or increasing our understanding of these majestic marine mammals in a more natural setting at worse. These contributions to the recovery of the population could be could be vital, but are likely not possible without first extending the protections of the ESA to Lolita. 

About Cathy Williamson

Cathy Williamson was policy manager of our End Captivity Programme until July 2021.