Tokitae joins state fleet on Mukilteo-Clinton route

Jun 11, 2014
Photo by: Sara Bruestle

The Olympic class Tokitae joined Washington’s ferry fleet on June 2. The Tokitae (“toe-kee-tay”) will embark on its maiden voyage on the Mukilteo-Clinton route this summer.

It is the first of three funded Olympic class vessels to replace the aging Evergreen State class ferries of the 1950s. The Tokitae has the capacity to carry 144 cars and 1,500 passengers.

The new ferry is named after Tokitae, aka Lolita, the oldest orca in captivity. She has spent more than 40 years alone in a tank so small it’s illegal at the Miami Seaquarium.

She was captured in the 1970s in Penn Cove off of Whidbey Island. Many are petitioning set her free and bring her home.

The Orca Network on Whidbey Island submitted the name Tokitae, which is a Salish greeting meaning "nice day, pretty colors."

“The name Tokitae represents and honors this orca (renamed Lolita after she arrived in Miami) and her family, the Southern Resident orcas that range throughout the Salish Sea and beyond," said Howard Garrett of the Orca Network.

A celebration on June 8 at the Clinton terminal featured speakers, entertainment, a tribal ceremony and self-guided tours of the ferry.

-Sara Bruestle
















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