With the help of the public, Springer’s calf finally has a name – Spirit. One of British Columbia’s most celebrated rescue and release stories, Springer was first spotted in 2002 sick and alone near Seattle, hundreds of kilometers from her home. With the cooperation of two federal governments, scientists from two countries and experienced members of our animal care team, Springer was soon rescued, rehabilitated and reunited with her pod. The world-famous rescue became even more meaningful last year when Springer was first sighted with her newborn calf.
Known to scientists as A104, “Spirit” was first spotted by the Vancouver Aquarium and the Marine Education Research Society around Spirit Island, near Bella Bella on the B.C. Central Coast. Monitored as part of the world’s longest continuous study of killer whales, animals are identified through photo identification, and acoustic and DNA analysis. After a calf has survived its first year – the most challenging period in every whale’s life – it is usually then given a common name.
After many suggestions, input and votes from the public, the Northern Resident Killer Whale naming committee agreed that Spirit was the best name for the calf. The name fits with the tradition of naming northern resident killer whales after coastal places of some significance for the individual.
Whether it’s rescuing and rehabilitating a killer whale, Levi the porpoise or over 100 seal pups each year, our Marine Mammal Rescue Team is hard at work year round. Stories like Springer and Spirit wouldn’t be possible without this dedicated group of veterinary professionals.
If you spend time on or around the water, keep an eye out for Springer and Spirit travelling with the rest of the A24 matriline. Report your sighting of a whale, dolphin, or porpoise to Vancouver Aquarium’s B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network by calling 1.866.I.SAW.ONE, emailing [email protected], or online at www.wildwhales.org. Your sightings can help us learn more about protecting cetaceans like Springer and Spirit.