Firstly Gwen shares her addiction to the Veterans Protest event Rolling Thunder, that happens every year in Washington DC.   Visit her Rolling Thunder page.  And try to keep a dry eye for this long running and amazing Memorial Day weekend event, in the Capitol of our Nation, to honor those  from military services yesterday, today and tomorrow.  OUR VETERANS!

Today’s show subject does not trump the honoring of those who serve our military from the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, around the country and world, by any means.  It just so happens, Howard Garrett’s regular, last Monday of each month, visit to Whidbey Chat fell on Memorial Day.

Whidbey Chat’s Whale News with Howard Garrett.

It was a pleasure to have Howard Garrett from the Orca Network, come in for his usual visit with Gwen and have him joined by additional guests, Capt. John Stone and Lila Snover to talk about recent whale sightings, and Lolita, the last surviving whale in captivity from the 1970 Orca Whale Captures of Penn Cove. What happened during those captures and where is Lolita today?

To start the show Howard gave us the low down on the latest orca sightings in our area, saying our resident pods L and J have only been spotted in the area for short periods of time so far this year and other local whale news, even a territory switch up.

For the whale capture segment of the show, Howard, Lila and John help Whidbey Chat listeners understand what happened those weeks on Penn Cove when more than 80 Orca whales were herded into Penn Cove with large boats and men who intended to capture them and sell them to theme parks. Who was involved; how did they capture the whales, how many of the 80+ Orcas in the cove were caught, how many transported to new homes, how many died, what did they do with the dead ones, and what is the fate today of the last surviving whale, of the Penn Cove Whale Captures, Lolita?

John and Lila were both living on the cove during the captures.  Both tell chilling stories of what it was like during those loud, shocking, days in our cove and how they felt then and now about the Penn Cove Orca Round-up.

Lila, comes from a long line of historical figures who settled on the island and grew up on the cove in Coupeville.  She was a young wife and mother with teenaged children at the time of the captures and tells listeners she could not look at the captured whales.  “It was too sad” and she “only stopped once” to look at the whales.  Yet she could not avoid hearing them.  Everyone, in and around Penn Cove could hear them.  People came and parked on the roads around the cove to listen to and watch them.  Night and day the free and captured whales communicated, in a chorus of their haunting calls.  Lila recalls little children telling her “they sound like they are crying”, to which Lila could only say “it does.”

John Stone worked on Penn Cove, at his parents historic business, the Captain Whidbey Inn, and was already a budding naturalist and historian, at 19 yrs old.  He felt it was important to record the captures, and played a big part in making that happen. Collaborating with a local newsman, getting the boat necessary, and making sure they were on the water, as close as they could get, recording as much as they could.  Today John recalls a moment in that small boat when  “a dorsal fin of one of the young male’s [ocra]”, that was hanging around but not captured, was “coming straight at” them…  And his ah-ha moment, up close and personal, with a killer whale that week.

Bringing the science of wild and captured whales into the conversation, Howard explained that he, along with many Orca experts, believes Lolita (pictured above with her Orca look alike toy), could be retired from her one whale show at a theme park in Florida and brought back to the Pacific Northwest, to live out her life with members of her own pod.  A pod she responded to when a recording of their calls were played for her at the edge of her Florida pen.  A pod that includes “family” members, maybe even her mother, who survived those captures.  Would, could, Lolita adjust?  Would her pod accept her? How much does it cost? Is bringing Lolita home worth a try?

Ask yourself – Do whales have devotion to family?  Do whales remember their own?  Are whales, who have been performing in theme parks for 40 years, able to go back into the wild?  Would their originating pods remember them?  Should they be returned to the wild?  What do you say?  Listen in and make a comment.

Another interesting show on Whidbey Chat~!