Death Precludes Deliverance for Orca Tokitae

For 53 years, the captive orca Tokitae (a.k.a. Toki, Lolita, and Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut) lived in a tiny tank at Miami Seaquarium. She was a Southern Resident orca, a Pacific Northwest population listed as endangered in 2005. (In 2015, that listing was amended to remove the exclusion of captive whales such as Toki.) After the park was sold to The Dolphin Company in March 2022, hope arose that she might finally be moved to a healthier environment—perhaps ultimately to a sea pen in her native waters in the Pacific. Unfortunately, such hope came too late for this redoubtable lady. On August 18, Toki died.

While a summary of the necropsy results has been released, we await the details. This summary outlines a number of chronic conditions Toki suffered; she simply spent too long in that terrible tank. This makes the pain of losing her, after she hung on for so long and just when her future looked brighter, all the more overwhelming.

Fare thee well, Tokitae—may you have fair winds and following seas.