Captive Orca Lolita's 93-Year-Old Wild Mom Spotted for First Time This Year

The wild 93-year-old mom of famous, captive orca called Lolita has been spotted for the first time this year.

The Southern Resident orca, known as L25—or Ocean Sun—was spotted in the Haro Strait, Washington, on July 29.

There is no actual evidence that Ocean Sun is Lolita's mother, but it's widely assumed.

Lolita, also known as Tokitae, is one of the most famous captive orcas in the world. She lives at Miami Seaquarium, where she has been since 1970. She is the last surviving orca out of 45 that were captured and delivered for display in aquariums between 1965 and 1973. These were some of the first orcas ever kept in captivity.

She used to be part of a Southern Resident orca population living in the northeast portion of the North Pacific Ocean. She is the last Southern Resident orca living in captivity.

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Ocean Sun was spotted by Sara Hysong-Shimazu, who snapped a photo of the elderly female.

Scientists from the Center for Whale Research observe L pod orcas in Washington on a regular basis and had been on the lookout that day. However, they couldn't see her.

The Orca Rescues Foundation said in a Facebook post that it was likely she was "far offshore" at the time. However, as scientists traveled further south, she was spotted traveling north by herself.

It's believed that L25 was born in 1928 and is the oldest member of the Southern Resident orca population.

The orca has a large following and a Wiki Fan page dedicated to her. The elusive female is not seen very often, which often prompts concern that she has passed away.

The last time she was spotted was in June 2021. The elderly female was seen swimming in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, at Swiftsure Bank.

Scientists believe she gave birth to Lolita in the late 1960s. Lolita was captured in Penn Cove, Washington on August 8, 1970, and transported to the Miami Seaquarium.

L25 had three other calves, who all died in the 1980s. After they died, she had no immediate family left, according to her Wiki Fan page. The L Pod is the largest of three Southern Resident killer whale pods.

Lolita is one of around 20 orcas remaining in captivity in North America today. Animal welfare groups have been campaigning for her release for years.

Her living conditions at the attraction have previously been described as "legally and ethically unacceptable."

In October 2021, a report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also raised concerns over her living conditions following an inspection of the aquarium conducted in June 2021.

Newsweek has contacted the Center for Whale Research for a comment.

Orca
A file photo of a killer whale. A 93-year-old orca believed to be the mother of captive orca Lolita, has been spotted for the first time in a year. Gemma Winston/Getty