Note: David Welton took some terrific photos Saturday, April 15 of the Welcome the Whales parade, sponsored in part by the Orca Network.  

Creative costuming
Catching a glimpse of Saratoga Passage with folks at the Welcome the Whales Parade and Festival April 15 in Langley
Patricia Friedman and partner with a brown octopus in the 2023 Welcome the Whales Parade April 15

Founded more than 20 years ago, the whale-advocate network formed to help return a captive orca to her home and family. Captured at the age of 4 in Penn Cove and sold to an aquarium, she is the only surviving captured orca of the 80 captured in August 1970. The Orca Network opened the Langley Whale Center on Anthes Street, which helps educate us on our important marine life and how we might help it thrive. The Orca Network also advocates for improving salmon habitat, the main source of food for our resident orcas.

A little one dressed as a whale snoozes at the Welcome the Whales Festival and Parade April 15
Joining in at the Welcome the Whales Parade and Festival April 15 in Langley
An orca banner and pink purse help welcome our visiting whales

The orca who stole our hearts is Lolita or Tokitae, or, as she is known in the Lushootseed language of our original Salish Sea people: Sk’aliCh;elh-tenaut.  Captured nearly 50 years ago from Penn Cove, she has performed at the Miami Seaquarium.  Public pressure to return her to her family has been steady. March 31 the Seaquarium announced it will begin steps to return her home.

So our celebration April 15 welcomes our existing whales and orcas and is a welcome home eventually for our prodigal daughter Tokitae.

Open water swimmers get ready to drop flowers in the Saratoga Passage to welcome our whales
Mermaids out of the water parade April 15 at the 2023 Welcome the Whales Parade in Langley
Langley Police Chief Tavier Wasser waves to the crowd as he joins revelers in the Village by the Sea’s Welcome the Whales parade

Our banner photo features a puppet created by artist Doe Stahr and her husband Michael Clyburn. They created a 12-foot long killer whale puppet/float. A bubble banner reads “So long Miami and thanks for all the fish.”  Asked about her inspiration for the creation, Doe Stahr emailed: “Primarily it is inspired by having our grandsons attend in person this year. And the near time to when Toki will be returned from Miami Seaquarium. We put in extra effort because we have 4 to 5 parades in mind this summer.”

A harbor seal and sea anemone share a moment
Colorful locals drum in the 2023 Welcome the Whales parade in downtown Langley April 15
Man rides a crustacean at Langley’s 2023 Welcome the Whales Parade April 15


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