Corky begins 33rd year in captivity – December 11th 2001

Hello everyone,

Thirty two years ago today, Corky was swimming freely beside her mother Stripe in the midst of her family, the A23 matriline, and in the company of the three other families that make up the A5 pod of British Columbia. Unknown to any of them, the day would end in a storm and begin a nightmare. In darkness on December 11th, 1969, amidst a howling storm, the 12 orcas passed through the narrow entrance of Pender Harbour, the same entrance 7 of their close relatives had passed through the previous year and disappeared. The fishermen who had captured the whales in 1968 were waiting, gear ready. All night they battled the storm, attempting to set their nets around the whales. When day broke the storm had subsided and half the orcas were inside the nets. The others remained nearby, outside and still free… but soon they were trapped too. Corky’s life as a captive had begun.

Today, 32 years later, Corky is the sole survivor from all the captures in British Columbia waters during the 1960s and 1970s. With Lolita, she remains just one of two survivors from all the captures in the Pacific Northwest… one northern resident survivor and one southern resident survivor from the scores taken. Both deserve a chance at picking up the threads of their lives among their families in the ocean. In Corky’s case, we know precisely which matriline she comes from. Her sister Ripple (A43) has a five year old swimming beside her, the same age as Corky when she was captured. Corky’s aunt Licka (A8), whom Corky knew well as a youngster, is 49 years of age. Others in the wider community that Corky knew in her early years are still present. We were so ignorant of the nature of orca society when Corky was captured, but now we know much. It is beyond shameful that Corky had not yet been given the opportunity to rejoin her family in the ocean, that we have not yet been able to benefit from the opportunity to learn that she represents, that Sea World and Anheuser-Busch have not yet conceded that simple morality and fair play demand that Corky be given a chance to live free.

As she enters her 33rd year as a captive, Corky has defied all odds. Today, at 37, she presents a picture of a female orca entering her middle life still healthy and energetic. Corky can resume her life in the ocean. Our commitment, and the commitment of thousands of others around the world whose lives Corky has touched is to see that she gets the chance she deserves.

One such person is Michael Reppy, the skipper of Thurday’s Child. Today, at San Diego University’s Aztec Center, Michael will be presenting Corky’s story in the second of a series of public events that he has arranged for this week and next in the San Diego area. On Saturday & Sunday (Dec. 15th & 16th) Michael’s Free Corky Show will be at the La Jolla Recreation Center, and next Monday & Tuesday (Dec. 17th & 18th) it will be at the Mission Beach Recreation Center – in a room that looks across the bay to Sea World. Michael’s presentation is low key in keeping with these distracted times. In presenting Corky’s case with story boards, a new poster and sections of Corky’s freedom banner, Michael is keeping the dream of freedom for Corky alive. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you, Michael!

We will spend this day thinking about Corky, her family, and the life they have missed together.


Paul & Helena

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