Orca Network’s Stephanie Raymond said there were good reports about Tokitae’s health earlier this week.
LANGLEY, Wash. – Prayers in Langley on Whidbey Island and in Miami Florida were held in honor of Tokitae’s passing on Saturday night.
Tokitae are the last southern settled orcas to live in captivity. She was captured from Whidbey Island’s Penn Cove in August 1970. She spent the rest of her life living and performing at the Miami Seaquarium.
Her death was an unexpected blow to many who supported her return to the Salish Sea. Now, those pushing to bring her home say there’s still work to be done.
Orca Network’s Stephanie Raymond said: “It was quite a shock. Earlier this week we heard how well she is doing.”
Plans are underway to transport Tokitae from Miami to spend the rest of her days in a sea pen in Puget Sound. She will receive food and medical care.
“She’s very close, and that’s part of the reason this is so heartbreaking,” Raymond said.
Raymond said many at Orca Network, who had long supported her return, were heartbroken by Tokitae’s sudden death.
“Everybody on our staff last night was absolutely shocked,” Raymond said. “I think many of us still, I don’t think it’s completely affected me.”
In the years since Tokitae took over the world around her she has turned to protect other marine mammals following her similar path.
Lummi Elder Raynell Morris is one of Tokitae’s fiercest supporters. Now, she’s turned her attention to returning Tokitae’s remains to the Pacific Northwest so she can be laid to rest according to the Tribe tradition.
“Well, I take her home, I go there and I take her home, it’s my duty to get the job done for her, take her home,” Morris said in an interview. Previously with KING 5.
Only this year, Toki, as she was told, was allowed to return home.
“I think we all felt like she came home, just not in the way that we wanted her to,” Morris said.
Senator Maria Cantwell released a statement Saturday that also pushed for the return of Tokitae’s remains to Washington.
“Toki’s remains should return to the Pacific Northwest,” Cantwell said. “My office has been in contact with the Administration to urge them to work with the Tribes to ensure their voices are heard and ceremonial rights are protected.”
While advocates work to ensure her remains are returned to the Northwest – the community longs for her to be in mourning.
“I hope that we will always remember her strength, her spirit and her resilience, and I hope that she will continue to inspire people as she has for decades now.” Raymond said.
My Tokitae is gone, but her story is not over yet.
“There are thousands of people around the world who have been touched by her and inspired by her,” Raymond said.