Gabriella Tavini

How the Children were Stolen from the Sea
Garbiella Tavini / JUL 23, 2019

In 1970, over 40 baby orcas were stolen from the sea and sold to marine parks globally. Within 15 years, they all died.

Except for one.


Tokitae has been confined in Miami Seaquarium in a chlorinated tank for 48 years. And every night, alone in her tank, she sings the song of her orca family.

Today, Tokitae is the only surviving wild orca in captivity in America. 

Thankfully, Tokitae’s story is far from over because the Lummipeople of the Salish Sea are fervently campaigning for her return home. But this article is not just about Tokitae. This article about how her resilience and courageous spirit, her capture and her potential release, reflects a wider narrative, one that’s been unfolding for decades. 

Solo to Ensemble: Freeing Tokitae

In an encore episode of For the Wild podcast, environmental advocate and host, Ayana Young interviews Dr. Kurt Russo who is fervently campaigning for Tokitae’s return home. Russo is the Executive Director of the Foundation for Indigenous Medicine and the former Director of the Native American Land Conservancy. Additionally, he holds a BS and MS in Forestry and a PhD in History. Dr Kurt Russo is actively working with the Lummi people of the Western Washington state to bring Tokitae to the Salish Sea where she’ll be rehabilitated into her natural habitat.