The lack of transparency at Miami Seaquarium after Hurricane Irma hits

September 11th 2017 – We awoke to see the devastation left by Hurricane Irma. Everyone was so desperate to hear news of the animals that could not escape her destructive path, especially our beloved Lolita / Tokitae who is held at Miami Seaquarium. Social media and news channels were scoured over and over, minute by minute.

Little drips of information slowly came through.

An American footballer, Chad Johnson tweeted “Causeway closed to get to Lolita, I’ll jog the rest of the way since I’m in shape, give me 10 minutes be right back!!” Which was shortly followed by “Damn bridge is closed I can’t even jog over to Key Biscayne.”

Barbara Napoles of Dolphin Project set off in her car and managed to reach Miami Seaquarium, she filmed and noted that the whale bowl looked intact from where she could see. The security guard didn’t give her any information. But at least we had seen the structure was intact!

The next event to unfold was Lincoln O’Barry from Dolphin Project outside Miami Seaquarium with a drone. The footage went live on Facebook and we finally had our first quick glimpse of Lolita! She was there! Thank heavens! I took a quick screenshot and shared it on Orca Network’s page. I’m pretty glad that myself and a few others did as the video was suddenly taken down! Of course this caused much confusion and rumours! Was he arrested? Did the police take it down? We were all so grateful as we’d seen her at last which was all that really mattered. ( Lincoln tweeted later on that he hadn’t been arrested & simply wanted to upload a new video)

lolita -11-9-17

If Miami Seaquarium had posted a video or even a tweet it may have calmed many but I doubt it as there is so little trust left with this company. However, shortly after Lincoln O’Barry’s drone footage had appeared and then disappeared a picture was released by Miami Seaquarium who stated:
“Hurricane Irma update: The sun is out today and we are getting things back to normal. Even Lolita’s bird friends have come back! Our animals and team members are safe. Thank you for your continued support. We will continue to assess the park and provide updates as they become available.”

The outrage and questions started yet again! Was this a new photo? Was this statement simply released in response to the drone footage that had just gone out?

msq statement

*Update – 12/09/17 @7.20pm – Miami Seaquarium – “Thanks for your support and concern for the animals. This photo was taken yesterday morning. Sorry for the late response we have been dealing with reduced power and Wi-Fi throughout the day. Trainers are working with the animals to return to their normal routine as quickly as possible and we’ll post more updates soon.”

damage at MSQ

How can they have stated that everything was fine when Miami News Channel 7 sent their helicopter out and filmed over the site. The devastation was quite apparent.

“These photos are apparently from Miami news coverage, they show the roofs blown off two large pools (the dolphin tank and an adjacent pool), Toki’s tank would be just to the left of this photo, unfortunate they didn’t include that in the photo.

We have seen still shots from the drone Lincoln O’Barry flew over Toki’s tank this morning, the roof stayed on and she appears to be alive, difficult to assess the water quality or her condition.

The Miami Seaquarium has posted that the sun is shining, and all their animals are fine and they are getting back to normal but continuing to assess the damage….nothing about the condition of the pools shown in the photos below, or about how Toki is really doing.” – Orca Network

There is need for transparency within these companies, and it is once again proof that cetaceans should not be held in tanks! They can’t be moved quickly and they are left alone in their concrete prisons to cope with adverse weather conditions.

If only the love that thousands upon thousands of people have for Lolita could simply take her back home. What a day that would be. We will never give up ! Ever!

Please read Orca Network’s retirement plan

Articles:

September 12th 2017

 

Robert Rose and Lolita are checking in to give you a Hurricane Irma update. Miami Seaquarium is currently assessing the impact of #HurricaneIrma and will post more updates as they are available. We continue to focus on the safety and welfare of our animals. We appreciate your concern and well wishes for our park and all those affected.

Posted by Miami Seaquarium on Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Video added by Miami Seaquarium on Sept. 12 2017

“Robert Rose and Lolita are checking in to give you a Hurricane Irma update. Miami Seaquarium is currently assessing the impact of #HurricaneIrma and will post more updates as they are available. We continue to focus on the safety and welfare of our animals. We appreciate your concern and well wishes for our park and all those affected.”

Just had a brief call with GM of Miami Seaquarium, inquiring about the condition of Lolita the endangered orca whale….

Posted by Mayor Philip Levine on Tuesday, 12 September 2017

 

This is a timelapse of Hurricane Irma hitting Virginia Key, taken by the WeatherSTEM camera located on the roof of the three-story Science Laboratory and Administration Building on the University of Miami Rosentiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. The camera is facing almost due south towards Darwin Beach and the campus’s dock. The Miami Seaquarium’s southern property boundary is 615 ft NW from the camera. The medical pool for the orca and white sided dolphin tank is 778 ft WNW from the camera. The easternmost tip of the Flipper Stadium tank is 839 ft WSW of the camera. The eastern tip of the Top Deck dolphin tank is 1,057 ft WNW from the camera. A graphic showing the above locations is included in the comments section of this post.

Posted by Final Days Presents The China Zoological Park/Aquarium News Report on Tuesday, 12 September 2017

This is a timelapse of Hurricane Irma hitting Virginia Key, taken by the WeatherSTEM camera located on the roof of the three-story Science Laboratory and Administration Building on the University of Miami Rosentiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. The camera is facing almost due south towards Darwin Beach and the campus’s dock. The Miami Seaquarium’s southern property boundary is 615 ft NW from the camera. The medical pool for the orca and white sided dolphin tank is 778 ft WNW from the camera. The easternmost tip of the Flipper Stadium tank is 839 ft WSW of the camera. The eastern tip of the Top Deck dolphin tank is 1,057 ft WNW from the camera.

Posted by Final Days Presents The China Zoological Park/Aquarium News Report on Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Howard Garrett – Orca Network:

“2017-09-10 – All day – hurricane. Gusts over 100 mph. Lightning. ”

“It’s hard to assess how Tokitae coped with the hurricane-force winds Sunday but it certainly was a loud roar for 12-14 hours with many sudden loud noises all around her, even through the water barrier. Her tank no doubt shook to some degree.

A week ago Irma was forecast to travel straight up the middle of Florida at a Cat. 4 with 130+ mph winds, with the eyewall just 20-30 miles west of the Seaquarium. That would have put the fiercest winds, at first from the east, bringing in a massive ocean surge of 10-15′, then from the south at maximum speeds blowing north up Biscayne Bay at surges over 12′ high at the Seaquarium, which sits at approximately 4′ above high tide.

Approximately 8′ of surging seawater plus possibly 10 foot waves would have slammed directly across the park and into the whale stadium. Despite the concrete pillars the force of the waves and debris could have undermined the stadium and the pool and compromised the structure, possibly severely. Toki probably would not have survived. She and we are very fortunate (although many others were not) that the eye jogged west over Cuba and went about 90 miles to the west of Miami. Continued captivity still puts her in mortal danger in this extremely active hurricane season.”