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This video is original and shocking footage of the notorious Penn Cove orca captures, which occurred in August 1970, near Puget Sound, Washington State, in which seven, presumably Southern Resident orcas, including Lolita, were taken into captivity.

As many as five orcas drowned in the nets during this process, where over 80 individuals were encircled. The footage that you will see is disturbing, and depicts the brutal, extremely stressful, and haphazard methods utilized in capturing orcas from the wild. The special also features the first ever interview with diver John Crowe, who worked on the Penn Cove capture and was in charge of secretly disposing of the carcasses of the drowned orcas, to avoid them being counted in the total numbers taken during the capture.

Lolita continues to languish at the Miami Seaquarium, marking her 47th year (August 2017) in captivity. Lolita is also known as Tokitae-which means ‘nice day, pretty colours’ in Chinook. Lolita’s family is the L25 matriline of the “L” pod of the Southern Resident orca community. Lolita’s mother is believed to be L25, Ocean Sun (estimated birth year 1930), who still resides with Lolita’s family swimming freely in the open waters where Lolita was captured. Lolita continues to use the calls that only her family uses.

In 2005, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) designated the Southern Resident orcas as an endangered species under the US Endangered Species Act. On February 4, 2015, Lolita was officially included in the endangered listing of the Southern Resident orca Distinct Population Segment (DPS) by NMFS. Lolita is the last surviving orca of 45 members of the Southern Resident community that were captured and delivered for display in marine parks between 1965 and 1973. At least 13 members of her family were killed during these brutal captures. Only Corky, a member of the Northern Resident orca community captured in 1969, who still lives at Sea World in San Diego, has been in captivity longer.


Penn Cove facts

  • Over 80 orcas were rounded up

  • As many as five orcas drowned

  • The orcas who were killed were sunk to avoid being counted

  • Southern Resident orcas are now listed as endangered under the US ESA

From the Emmy Award‐winning syndicated special, Baby Wild Films Presents: The Killer Whale People, produced, written and edited by Michael Harris, with original music by Tim Truman. Hosted and narrated by Heart’s Nancy Wilson. For information, contact [email protected]. Thank you to Baby Wild Films for providing us with permission to share this video.