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Springer 11 Years Later, with Calf in Tow
Posted on July 12, 2013
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Eleven years ago, the world witnessed the first successful rescue, recovery, and reintroduction of a wild killer whale. Springer (A73) was a two-year old orphan separated from her family when found three hundred miles from home. The little orca captured international attention and galvanized community support for a relocation effort.

The Vancouver Aquarium, in collaboration with government agencies such as Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), and advocacy groups, played an integral role in Springer’s successful rescue, rehabilitation, and reintroduction back into the wild – the first orca recovery effort of its kind.

So it was with great joy and excitement that we greeted news from our friends at DFO that Graeme Ellis, research technician, Cetacean Research Program, DFO, sighted Springer with her first calf on July 4. Graeme had seen 13-year-old Springer and her baby off the central coast of British Columbia while conducting an annual photo survey of the whales.

During a media conference on July 8, Graeme had described Springer and her calf as “healthy and energetic.” He estimates that the calf is approximately seven feet long.

The sighting was significant because it demonstrated the current health and resilience of Springer eleven years after her heroic rescue, as well as the power of people working together for a good cause.

Springer was rescued near Seattle on June 12, 2002, and was rehabilitated in a holding pen in Manchester, Washington. One month later, on July 13, Springer was transported from Washington to a holding pen in Johnstone Strait. On July 14 she was returned to the wild to reunite with her pod as it swam by the release site.

Since then, DFO, the Aquarium and other partners have monitored Springer’s whereabouts and well-being.

You can help support cetacean research efforts in B.C. by reporting your whale, dolphin or porpoise sighting to Vancouver Aquarium’s B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network, conducted in collaboration with DFO. You can also support important killer whale research and conservation efforts directly through the Aquarium’s Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program.


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  1. I really enjoyed seeing and hearing that Springer is a mother and doing well. I remember and followed Springers progress when she was first captured and rehabilitated. I’m an animal lover no matter how big or small the creature. It was nice to see that people cared enough about Springer to try to save her, re-hab her and eventually reunite her with her pod. Thanks to all those people many years ago that gave of their blood, sweat, and tears for a orphaned killer whale by the name of Springer.