15 years ago Springer the orca whale, officially named A-73, was spotted alone and orphaned in Puget Sound.
Springer is originally from a pod of orcas that frequent the waters near Northern Vancouver Island.
Experts were able to rescue Springer by identifying her by her vocal calls, which are specific to her pod, and locating her extended family before returning her 300 miles north to the Johnstone Strait.
Springer’s story is a rarity, as she is the only orca whale to have ever been successfully reunited with her family.
The Whale Interpretive Centre at Telegraph Cove is celebrating the anniversary with a special panel discussion where Springer’s rescue team will give first-hand accounts of how Springer was identified, rescued, and rehabilitated.
“Springer’s reunion is an unqualified success – the only project of its kind in history,” said Donna Sandstorm, director of The Whale Trail and organizer of the “Celebrate Springer” event.
“To get the little whale home, we had to learn how to work together, as organizations, agencies, and nations – above all we put her best interests first.”
“Springer’s story is an inspiration on many levels,” added Paul Spong of OrcaLab. “It proved that an orphan orca, alone and separated from her family, can be rehabilitated and returned to a normal productive life with her family and community; and it showed that disparate parties with diverse interests can come together and work together for the common goal of helping one little whale.”
Fifteen years on Springer is still healthy and four years ago she had her first calf, named Spirit.“The most exciting news is the confirmation that Springer has had another calf and we hope we will be fortunate enough to see this famous mother with her family this summer,” said Mary Barrowman director of the Whale Interpretative Centre.
Springer’s second calf was first spotted by CetaceaLab on BC’s north central coast on June 5th and then confirmed by a Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) research survey.
They are most often seen on the north central British Columbia coast and occasionally return to the Johnstone Straight in summer.
“We hope her story inspires people to join us in working on issues facing our endangered southern resident orcas today, with the same urgency, commitment, and resolve,” added Sandstorm.
The “Celebrate Springer!” presentation on Springer’s story and panel discussion will take place at the Whale Interpretative Centre in Telegraph Cove on Saturday July 22, 2017 at 11 am.