Springer's story

A73 (Springer) in Johnstone Strait on August 28, 2002.
Photo by Joseph Alicea, Oak Harbor.
A73 (Springer) News Clips, Sightings Reports and Forum comments
beginning July 14, 2002
Go HERE for revious reports, from January 3, 2002 to July 13, 2002

What Do You Think About Springer? by Susan Berta and Howard Garrett

Mixed in with Springer's story is Luna's story
Springer in Johnstone Strait
Springer in Johnstone Strait August 11, 2011 (third from top, with open saddle patch)
Photo by Jeff Hogan, Killer Whale Tales

Springer the whale returns to BC
August 17, 2011 (KWCH News) The Orca is the only known wild whale to have been successfully reunited with her pod.
First spotted with her mother in July 2000, Springer was sighted in the summer of 2001 swimming with another female whale, but did not return to Johnstone Strait with the rest of her pod.
In January 2002, Spring was seen swimming solo between West Seattle and Vashon Island. Known for her friendly behavior – she fearlessly approached people in boats – her behavior caused grave concern among local environmental groups.
By the summer of 2005, scientists and whale experts report that Springer is fully integrated with her pod and appears to be a normal and healthy whale.

Young whale's tale is story of success
June 14, 2007 (Seattle Times) Five years after Springer's rescue, the orphaned orca's relocation to her pod in the wild appears to be an unqualified success.
The rescue, five years ago Wednesday, was launched after the female orca, 2 years old at the time, was spotted alone, far from her home waters off northern Vancouver Island in Canada.
First seen near the Vashon ferry dock in January 2002, she had bad skin, worms in her stool and bad breath. She also appeared lonely and was hanging around ferries and small boats, looking for attention.
"I could move my hand in a circle, and she would roll over; it was amazing," said Ken Balcomb, of the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor. "I am dog-sitting a dog right now that was not as good as Springer.
"It was like she was auditioning for SeaWorld. I'd splash water, and she would spit and splash back. She wanted to interact. She had nothing else to do down there, and people were her entertainment."
On June 13, 2002, the orca, by then nicknamed Springer, allowed herself to be hoisted in a sling and moved to a holding pen off Manchester, Kitsap County. Before long she was eating 60 pounds of salmon a day and gained 112 pounds.
A month later, the fisheries service coordinated her boat trip home. Springer was released from a holding pen in her home waters the next day, as her pod swam by. The young orca and her family had already recognized each other by their vocalizations.
It worked. Before long, Springer, or A73, left the area and rejoined her pod. After that, she was seen with her family regularly. Last examined by scientists in August 2005, she was acting like a normal orca in every way. She was still undersized, but no longer the smallest member of her pod. She swam fast, ate well, looked good. She has been spotted with her pod since then.
"It was a successful effort," Balcomb said. "We can save these whales; it's a matter of wanting to."


June 28, 2004
For immediate release

The return of Springer
Orphaned orcas success bodes well for Luna reunion

Today is a day of celebration for Johnstone Strait orca watchers and researchers. Springer, the orphaned orca who was reunited with her pod via a historic project in 2002, has been sighted in the Johnstone Strait for the first time this season. Springer returned in the company of her great aunt Yakat (A11) along with Yakats 2 offspring, and 3 adult male orcas, the A36 brothers. This morning, tiny Springer spent hours sandwiched between the huge forms of two male orcas, almost invisible from a distance. Her distinctive calls gave her presence away to listeners at Hanson Islands OrcaLab research station around 1am, and eventually her distinctive open saddle patchwas spotted by observers from B.C. Parks Warden programme. There is now no doubt about it Springer has survived another winter, and she is still with the close relatives she bonded with in 2002.

Further information:
email orcalab@island.net
P.O. Box 510 " Alert Bay " B.C. Canada " V0N 1A0

One lonely Orca with something to prove
July 15, 2003 (Seattle Times Editorial) The story of Springer, the not-so-little orphan orca, is of an international gamble that this baby, who separated from her pod after her mother apparently died, could successfully be reunited with her non-immediate relatives. The lonely orca had become sickly and took to socializing with boats.
But last week, when Springer glided into Queen Charlotte Strait off northern Vancouver Island with 30 other orcas after a winter in the ocean, she proved it could be done; the first successful reunion ever.
Last summer, Springer's vulnerability and membership in perhaps the most iconic of Northwest species played on the hearts of children and federal bureaucrats alike. The U.S. and Canadian governments cooperated in a scheme that rehabilitated Springer in Puget Sound and then moved her to waters off Vancouver Island.
After hanging back but following her aunt's pod, she appeared to be adopted by a 16-year-old female who sharply discouraged Springer's interaction with boats.
Much about Springer's case is exceptional, but the reunion project has confirmed for scientists many theories about these mammals and inspired new ones.

July 10, 2003

For immediate release

For further information:

Dr. Paul Spong
Tel: 250-974-8068
Mobile: 250-974-7174
Email: orcalab@island.net
The return of Springer

Springer (A73), the orphaned baby orca whose dramatic rescue and return to her home waters in British Columbia made headlines around the world last summer, has been sighted again. The sighting was made yesterday morning by observers aboard the Naiad Explorer, a whale watching vessel operating in Queen Charlotte Strait in the waters of northern Vancouver Island. Springer was in the company of about 30 orcas including the "A11" matriline which is closely related to Springer. The A11s were one of the groups which Springer associated most closely with in the period following her release last July. Springer was in their company along with several other orca families when she left the area early last October. She had not been sighted again during the winter and spring, causing speculation about her fate. Following the return of the vessel to port digital images obtained by photographer Rolf Hicker were emailed to researchers at OrcaLab who confirmed Springer`s identity.

"Springer is in excellent condition," said Dr. Paul Spong, OrcaLab`s director. There can now be no question about the success of the return project as it is clear that Springer has resumed living a normal social life among her kin and community. This is wonderful news; it is also a great day for everyone who believed in Springer and who believe that other lonely and lost orcas like Luna can succeed in returning to a normal life as well."

In referring to Luna, Spong was speaking about another unusual instance of a solitary orca known to scientists as L98. He is a 4 year old member of "L pod" who has been swimming alone in Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island for over two years. L pod is one of the groups that make up the endangered "southern resident" community of orcas that inhabit the waters of Washington State and British Columbia. Luna has become well known for his habit of pushing small vessels around, diverting them from their course and even preventing them from leaving the dock. Canada`s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has decided against intervening with Luna, preferring to let "nature take its course" but mayor Dave Lewis of Gold River is fearful of the outcome if nothing is done. "Someone`s going to get hurt" said Lewis in a recent interview, voicing his concern that Luna might be shot by a frustrated boater. Spong agrees. "As a social being, Luna has substituted people for orcas", said Spong. "This can be cute at times but Luna is much bigger and more powerful than people. It won't take much of a mistake on his part to injure or kill someone. Whatever the cause of a mishap, Luna will be blamed and his fate sealed. He will be destroyed as a "nuisance animal" or captured and sent to a tank, and I doubt the public would approve either end. I just wish the DFO would step in and give him a hand before it`s too late."

Springer`s successful journey home seems certain to boost Luna`s chances of a similar rescue. "I can only hope the DFO will now reconsider its position on Luna", said Spong.

Springer the orca spotted safe and sound
July 10, 2003 (Toronto Globe and Mail) Springer the orca was spotted safe and sound with her family off the coast of northern Vancouver Island on Wednesday, indicating a successful reunion with her pod, BCTV on Global reported.
Last summer, scientists rescued the lonely killer whale from the waters of Washington state's Puget Sound, where she was far from her family and quickly losing weight.
Springer, whose official name is A73, was transported last July to Telegraph Cove, off the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
She joined up with her family when her great-aunt's pod of resident killer whales swam through Johnstone Strait.
Springer now looks healthy and appears to have kicked the unsafe habit of hanging around boats.

Springer's success inspires whale experts
July 11, 2003 (Seattle Times) The successful reintroduction of a Canadian killer whale rescued last year from Puget Sound has orca advocates pushing to have another orphaned whale brought back from Canada to the U.S.
The Canadian orca A-73, or Springer, was spotted Wednesday safe and sound with her family off northern Vancouver Island. Whale experts say this is proof positive that she has successfully reunited with her pod after a joint Canadian-U.S. effort rescued her last summer from waters off the Vashon Island ferry dock.
Now several groups are calling on officials to repeat the process with L-98, or Luna, a young male who has been swimming alone in Nootka Sound, on the west side of Vancouver Island, since 2001.
With his fellow southern residents dwindling in numbers, orca advocates have been pushing to see him brought back to his subgroup, the L-pod.
Springer safe, but what future does Luna see? July 11, 2003 (Bremerton Sun)
Orca whale reunited with family July 11, 2003 (BBC)
Scientists Cheer Return of Canadian Orca Whale July 11, 2003 (Reuters)
Orphaned orca welcomed back by pod July 11, 2003 (Victoria Times-Colonist)

Orphaned orca facing first winter at sea after Puget Sound rescue
November 13, 2002 (The Olympian) The orphaned killer whale rescued from busy Puget Sound last summer and ferried north to rejoin her family in Canada now faces her next big hurdle: a winter at sea.
The 2-year-old orca -- called A-73 for her birth order in Canada's A-pod and also known as Springer -- is believed to have left Johnstone Strait off northeast Vancouver Island last month with other so-called northern resident killer whales.
It is unlikely researchers will see them again until next spring. "This is the real test, whether she makes it through this winter," said researcher John Ford of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
"We'll just have to wait and see."

Aug. 25
Thanks for your comments, everyone... for those of you who are following Springer's story (just about everyone, I think) she has been seen this morning in the company of A11 & A56 (from the A11 matriline of the A4 pod) and A12 & A33 (from the A12 matriline) and A28 (from the A8 matriline of the A5 pod). Researcher Graeme Ellis did the ID work, so it is certain!
25 Aug 2002 09:40:41 PDT
Orca Live

Whale watchers spot Springer with her family
August 21, 2002 (Victoria Times-Colonist) Family ties are proving powerful for Springer, the orphaned orca still swimming with relatives more than a month after her release into Johnstone Strait.
"She's basically touring around with the A-4 pod," said Helena Symonds, who co-manages the non-profit OrcaLab on Hanson Island, off northeast Vancouver Island. Springer returned to the waters off Hanson Island Monday afternoon in the company of a cousin and a great-aunt.
The whale had not been seen for three weeks, returned briefly Aug. 17, and then left the immediate area for a few days. Watchers were thrilled with the latest sighting.
"It means that she's with her family. Those bonds are getting stronger daily," Symonds said.

Orphaned orca seen returning to Johnstone Strait -- with family
August 21, 2002 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) The orphaned orca brought from busy Puget Sound back to her native waters off Vancouver Island seems to have found a place among her relatives, whale watchers say.
The 2-year-old killer whale, known both as Springer and A-73, was spotted last weekend returning to Johnstone Strait after a three-week absence. She was swimming with her aunt and possibly some cousins, said John Nightingale, president of the Vancouver Aquarium.

L-98 is that other orphaned whale who has be hanging out in Canada's Nootka Sound for a little over a year – a male who belongs further south in the San Juan Islands.
The Canadians think L-98 could survive alone for another winter. The Canadian government expects it will meet next month to decide on whether to intervene sooner to move L-98.

August 17, 2002
Here is some GREAT news from Helena Symonds and Paul Spong of
OrcaLab - Springer is back, and is with her Grandmother's pod, the A4's on the rubbing beach!! They also met up with the A5's, her other orphaned orca buddies. We are SO happy to get this wonderful news, we couldn't wait to let you all know....

Orcas rubbing on the shore bottom.
There are whales on just about every station. The A4 calls are on the rubbing beach, the A36s are on Flower (they went west past the Lab with the Ds and the I22s earlier) while the A12s came back from the west and met up with the A5s, A4s (including A73!) and continued east with the A30s and I31s who had come up to Blackney Pass to say "good-bye" to the Ds and I22s and "hello" to the incoming A4s. It has been quite the day!
17 Aug 2002 13:31:36 PDT

August 16, 2002
From the Vancouver Aquarium, a few more details on Springer:

A73 Could be with A4s, Experts Speculate
A73, the orphan killer whale recently reunited with her family members in Johnstone Strait, may be swimming with the A4 pod, the group which contains her grandmother. A73, or Springer, has not been positively identified by researchers since July 31. Up until that time, she had been seen on numerous occasions with A51 and A61, two whales from the A5 pod. She seemed to form a particular bond with A51, a sixteen-year-old female orca who is also an orphan. But on Thursday, August 15, A51 and A61 were seen without A73. This leads whale researchers such as Helena Symonds of Orca Lab to believe that Springer could be with the A4s, who have not been seen in the Johnstone Strait area since July 30. There have been no reports of lone killer whales approaching boats, so experts are optimistic that Springer has remained with a group of whales. But scientists know that because of the complex social structure of killer whales, it is too early to say what Springer may do in the future. "While it is encouraging to see that A73 has created a tight bond with A51, it is premature to claim Springer's reintroduction complete," said Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard, Senior Marine Mammal Scientist for the Aquarium. "It is important to note that A73 spent at least a month (and likely longer) associated with a female from G pod last fall before ending up on her own." More information will be posted as it becomes available. Thanks to Stubbs Island Whale Watch and Orca Lab for their help with today's report.

August 2nd, 2002 - Update on A73 by Dr. Paul Spong

Springer (A73) is showing every sign of adjusting successfully to her new life in the wild. When we saw her last, two evenings ago, close in front of OrcaLab heading north, she was travelling closest to her natal matriline, the A24s - with her “adopted” matriline, the A25s, not far behind. This is a very interesting and probably significant development.

From the beginning, Springer’s progress in reintegrating with her community has been incremental. At first she remained at some distance from the other orcas; then she followed the A12s & A35s into Johnstone Strait & eventually mingled with them, associating most closely with a young male, A55, before heading into the rubbing beaches with the whole group; separating again, she spent the next day (July 16th) worrying everyone with scary “boat behaviour”, then remained alone at the “top” of Blackfish Sound much of the following day until being picked up by the A36 brothers and escorted back into the Strait; not long after, she met up with the A25s - fellow orphans A51 & A61 - and stayed very close to them for over a week.

During that time it became clear that 16 year old A51, who may have lost her first baby two years ago, was paying very close attention to Springer & acting for all the world like an attentive mother. On two occasions she was observed actively intervening as Springer headed off towards boats. One report came from researcher Lance Barret-Lennard (described in our 7.24 update). The other report came from Brian Faulkner, the skipper of the whale watching vessel Lukwa when he was at the “top” of Blackfish Sound watching the parade of orcas passing by in the evening. He noticed a very young member of a group of 4 orcas with small dorsal fins a couple of hundred meters away suddenly turn and head towards the Lukwa - immediately, the largest female in the group chased after the youngster, dove quickly underneath, & literally hurled her back towards the others! The event was so startling that Brian thought it must have been A51 & A73. We felt confident that it must have been, as the timing fitted our own observation of the progression of the whales as they headed “out” a short time earlier.

In the days that followed, we became increasingly confident that Springer’s impulse to approach boats was coming under control. Just the same, we were quite worried at the prospect of a commercial fishing “opening” in Johnstone Strait on July 30th & hoped the whales would elect to go elsewhere. They didn’t - in fact, they spent the whole of that day & the next in the Strait, casually travelling back & forth amongst a fleet of gill net vessels and their drifting nets. Springer, so far as we know, approached no vessels at all, and indeed, off Cracroft Point in full view of the Orca-live audience, negotiated her way between a sports fishing vessel and a whale watching vessel without a pause. We felt like celebrating!

Very interestingly, at that time she was travelling ahead of A51 & A61, mixed in with a group of other orcas that included her grandmother, A24. As the whales headed into the setting sun Springer launched her little body into a full breach... and then she did it again, & again! An hour later, when the orcas passed in front of OrcaLab, she was still with them - close to, though not right beside Granny... and with A71 & A64, her mum’s siblings. The “new” association with her natal group was a logical one for Springer, as A71 had already been spending time close to A73... in fact, from soon after A51 & A61 took her in tow.

Needless to say, we are enormously encouraged by these developments, and though we are not ready to pronounce Springer’s reintegration complete, we do believe she is making great progress. In the 3 short weeks since her return to home waters, Springer has been in the company of more than half of the 200+ northern resident orcas, 21 of her community’s 34 matrilines, and families from all 3 clans. It seems to us that we been seeing clear signs of bonding and acceptance as Springer makes her way back into her world... perhaps we have also been witnessing rites that go with reunion. As ever, though not without anxiety, we eagerly await the orcas’ return, and the next chapter in Springer’s tale.

Orphaned orca sticks with A-pod
August 2, 2002 (Seattle Times) The orphan killer whale that was returned to Canadian waters after she strayed into Puget Sound last winter has been with the same pod and the same surrogate mother for the past two weeks.
At one point, the adult female appeared to prevent her young charge from nearing a researcher's boat — a habit that had raised safety concerns when she strayed into busy Seattle-area waters.
"We're very pleased about this relationship," said the researcher, Lance Barrett-Lennard of the Vancouver Aquarium, who has been monitoring the orphan since her July 14 release east of British Columbia's Vancouver Island.
Springer sticking close to new mom August 2, 2002 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

From OrcaLab's OrcaLive website:
The whales have now travelled beyond our hydrophone range, so we are hearing no calls... quite possibly, we'll hear them again later tonight, or in the morning. This has been a great orca day which was capped by the wonderful sight of Springer (A73) travelling with her family (A24s) as well as A51 & A61, close in front of OrcaLab...
goodnight everyone!
Paul Spong, OrcaLab
31 Jul 2002 23:15:56 PDT

July 31, 2002 (Seattle Weekly) But while the Northwest pulled together to save one sickly whale, the remaining Puget Sound orcas face an uncertain future.

Watch the whales
July 29, 2002 (The National Post) Canada's orca population is declining and the fate of one young mammal is highlighting their precarious future, says Anne McIlroy
Canadians have been avidly following the story of an orphan killer whale, whose fight for survival has brought attention to the plight of the species in Canada.

Orphan orca may have found a pod
July 26, 2002 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) A bond seems to be developing between Springer and a female adult.
An orphan orca transplanted to her native Canadian waters from Puget Sound continues to swim with a 16-year-old killer whale, who seems to be taking a maternal interest in her.
The 2-year-old orca, known both as Springer and as A-73 -- for her birth order in her family group -- appears to have struck up a relationship with a whale scientists call A-51.
"It's not just that A-73 has latched on to a group of whales," said Lance Barrett-Lennard of the Vancouver Aquarium.
"It is clear that A-51 is looking out for her."

Orphaned orca finds surrogate mother
July 25, 2002 (Toronto Globe and Mail) Springer, the orphaned orca, is making friends, and this time, they are not all boats.
Scientists tracking the young female killer whale off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island reported yesterday that she has been seen swimming in close contact with three other whales, after disappearing with the same whales five days ago.
The group included an older female that appeared to be instructing the inexperienced Springer in the watery ways of the whale world.
When the young whale took up her old habit of approaching a boat to rub against its hull, the older orca, known as A-51, "swam over and seemed to guide Springer away from the boat and back to the other whales," the scientists reported in a press release.
"A-51 is from a different pod, but the two whales seem to have bonded," said John Ford, marine-mammal scientist at the Nanaimo-based Pacific Biological Station. "Springer is swimming alongside as if it were her mother."

Orphan orca may be bonding
July 25, 2002 (Seattle Times) The 2-year-old orca relocated to the waters off Vancouver Island may be bonding with a 16-year-old female orca.
A-73, dubbed Springer, has been mingling with the 40 to 50 orcas congregated in Johnstone Strait. On July 18, many of the whales, including Springer, left the area, said John Ford, marine-mammal scientist for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. They returned Tuesday and A-73 seemed to have latched onto A-51, a closely related whale that vocalizes in the same dialect, he said.
Most female orcas bear a calf when they are between the ages of 14 and 16, but A-51 either hasn't had one or may have had one that died.
"She's sort of at that age, so she might have a strong maternal drive," Ford said. "It's looking very encouraging."

July 23
Hi Susan and Howie
I just wanted to report another sighting of Springer, at approx. 8:00 PM last night (July 23). She was near the head of a large procession of killer pods entering Johnstone Strait from the west, and was closely associated with A51 and A61, members of A5 pod. She seemed energetic and healthy, but did have a number of new teeth rake marks from interactions with other killer whales. The last previous confirmed sighting was 18 July by myself and Graeme Ellis, and on that occasion she was also tightly associated with A51.
Thanks for help in finding her yesterday (she was a bit of a needle in a haystack) go out to Bill and Donna MacKay and Helena Symonds.
Lance Barrett-Lennard, PhD
Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre

09:30, Friday, July 19, 2002
This update provided by Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard at via Dr. John Nightingale, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre President.

A73 joined the very large (60-70 whales) group of killer whales in Johnstone Strait (in the area of the Michael Bigg Ecological Reserve and the rubbing beaches) late afternoon yesterday (Thursday). She was very difficult to identify because her last VHF radio tag has fallen off (just as it was supposed to). It was only by comparing digital photos from yesterday and new photos of A73 taken before release that her identity could be confirmed. Graeme Ellis of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Lance Barrett- Lennard of the Aquarium were the only observers to confirm that she was there (contrary to what was reported by some radio stations last evening). During the time she was observed in the Robson Bight area, Springer was associating very closely (side by side) with a 16-year-old orphaned female named A51. Dr. Barrett-Lennard and Graeme Ellis believe A51, whose mother was the well-known female A25 (Sharky - because of her uniquely shaped dorsal fin) would be a good companion for Springer.

Late yesterday evening, the big group broke up with most of the whales heading west. They were reported in the vicinity of Malcolm Island at 2100 (9:00 p.m.) by one of the Stubbs Island Whale Watching boats. Some of the large group of whales headed east and were seen at Campbell River this morning at about 0900.

We don't know for sure if A73 is with the larger group heading west, but we believe it is possible, and given that the group was not moving fast, she should have been able to keep up. There have been no reports last evening or today of a whale rubbing on boats. There are still a few whales left in Johnstone Strait, but it is quite foggy there this morning.

Lance notes that if they follow their normal pattern, the group may cruise up to near Port Hardy, or even into Queen Charlotte Strait, but should return to Johnstone Strait within a few days. It would be unusual (but not entirely impossible) for them to leave the area for good so early in the summer. This seems doubly unlikely given the large numbers of Chinook or King/Spring salmon in the area right now (these are the largest Pacific Salmon, and are killer whales' favorite food).

Because of the difficulty in identifying A73, Lance notes that we can expect lots of "reported sightings," most of which will turn out not to have been accurate. If DFO or the Aquarium hears about a whale approaching or rubbing on a boat, it will be investigated immediately. Again, boaters are asked to actively move away from a small, lone whale approaching them.

Lance and Graeme report that there are humpback whales in the area (west of Johnstone Strait) this morning. They have taken several photos of tail flukes for identification purposes

Springer should inspire protection
July 20, 2002 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) Springer's now-excellent adventure has featured enough excitement to inspire everyone from scientists to ordinary citizens. The orphaned orca has brought out the best in people here and in British Columbia.
She has also reminded Washingtonians of the need to care for a spectacular environment.
Orcas still face plenty of environmental threats and a questionable future. But Springer's return to British Columbia showed how deeply people care about orcas. The inspiration from Springer should help motivate further efforts to protect orcas and Washington's inland waters.

Orphan orca exhibiting important social skills
July 19, 2002 (Seattle Times) More than 50 orcas are in the area, including A-73's grandmother and other family, said John Ford, marine-mammal scientist for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. While A-73 continued to approach boats Wednesday, there were no reports of the orca rubbing up against boats yesterday.
"It's very encouraging that she's spending time with other whales and losing the habit of rubbing against boats that she developed in the Seattle area," said Ford.
Yesterday, A-73 spent part of the day socializing with A-51 and A-61, a young brother and sister who also lost their mother.

Thursday, July 18 (Orca Network Sighting Report)
From OrcaLab's Orca Live
Great news... Springer has been found - she is with A51 & A61, the "other" orphans! They were sighted at the "top" of Blackfish Sound, with other orcas, including some of the Rs. We are listening to their calls on the Flower Island hydrophone.
Paul Spong
18 Jul 2002 17:40:11 PDT

Orphan orca can't keep up with pod
July 18, 2002 (Seattle Times) The whale, named A-73 for her birth order in Canada's A-clan, has been spotted swimming with other orcas, but it appears she lacks the stamina to swim "at speed" with them, Lance Barrett-Lennard, a Vancouver Aquarium scientist, said in a dispatch to the aquarium Web site yesterday.
"When they are moving along slowly, cruising or feeding, she is fine," he said. "When they left her, she resorted to her old habit of approaching boats."
"She's got to be in bad shape," said Alexandra Morton, a killer-whale researcher who has watched A-73 since her release. "It's going to be a toning process."
Monitors are encouraging boaters to stay away from A-73. If she does approach, they are being asked to back away slowly.
Meanwhile, dozens of other killer whales are headed back to Johnstone Strait for the summer, raising the possibility that A-73 will soon encounter more orcas and possibly be adopted by one.

Orca delivery done, skipper back in Everett
July 16, 2002 (Everett Herald) All Michael Bennett wants is a shower.
After spending a weekend catering to the needs of a killer whale, Bennett started thinking about himself again after returning to his office at Mosquito Fleet, an Everett-based whale-watching and boat charter company, Monday afternoon.
Bennett was one of two volunteer captains of the 140-foot catamaran ferry that helped transport Springer, the orphaned killer whale, from Puget Sound back to her native waters near Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The vessel was donated by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders of Freeland.

Orca 'doing amazingly well' in pod
July 16, 2002 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) The orphan orca that endeared herself to humans in the Puget Sound area now appears to be winning over her relatives in Canada.
One day after being released in her native waters, 2-year-old Springer is already tagging along with a group of killer whales that includes an aunt and three cousins, scientists said.
Yesterday, they frolicked off the north end of Vancouver Island, chattering and popping their heads in and out of the water. In the evening, Springer followed the pod to a beach, where she rubbed on smooth rocks with other pod members.
The pod was in a "relaxed and goofy mood," said Paul Spong, director of OrcaLab, a non-profit research group located on Hanson Island, B.C., where Springer was released.
"She's doing amazingly well," he said.
Springer speaks the same language as her relations, and their conversations were picked up yesterday by Spong's hydrophone system.
Young orca spends hours with her family July 16, 2002 (KING5-TV)
Springer Spotted With Her Family July 16, 2002 (KOMO4-TV)
Orphan killer whale swims free in her native waters toward an unknown future July 16, 2002 (Reuters - Environmental Network News)

Scientists set orca free as pod gets near
July 15, 2002 (Seattle Times) At last, after nearly a half-year wallowing in Puget Sound, a month in rehab and a daylong, high-speed ride home, the orphaned Canadian orca A-73 yesterday was reunited with her family.
At least she swam toward them, pausing only briefly to play with some kelp. She then got within 100 yards of them, coyly looked them over and swam off in a different direction.
Release officials were extremely optimistic that A-73, also known as Springer, would be eager to see family members after she appeared to hear a group of about 30 killer whales vocalizing around 1:30 a.m. yesterday near her net pen in Dong Chong Bay.
A-73 became very excited, leaping as high as the handrails of her pen, calling loudly and pushing at the front of her net toward the open water.
Pioneering work helped ID Orca July 15, 2002 (Victoria Times-Colonist)
Springer flirts with family July 15, 2002 (Victoria Times-Colonist)
Springer swims free July 15, 2002 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Orphaned orca released; joins, leaves pod July 15, 2002 (KING5-TV)

Returned To The Wild
July 14, 2002 (KOMO4-TV) An orphan orca was released Sunday afternoon to join a pod of killer whales that swam by the mouth of the forested bay where she was penned.
The pod uses the same dialect as the baby orca, which was captured near Seattle and brought to a temporary home off north Vancouver Island for release.
"Based on what we saw last night, we were quite sure that when we opend the gate, she'd go charging off, and she did go charging off," said Vancouver Aquarium President John Nightingale.

A new course for orcas July 14, 2002 (Seattle Times) Yesterday, on live TV, two governments came together aboard a donated high-speed ferry to haul an orphaned orca from a Puget Sound pen to the waters of her old home off Vancouver Island. Our view on orcas, an icon of the Northwest, it seems, has shifted 180 degrees.
Few studies have been undertaken on the reintroduction of marine mammals. Experts, including those who have worked with the now semi-wild Keiko, agree that a successful reintroduction of A-73, or Springer, would be a first.

Orphaned orca has good night in new home
July 14, 2002 (KING5-TV) Dave Huff, veterinarian for Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center, said as soon as she was put in her net pen, Springer was immediately vocal and animated.
“She spent a lot of time doing very energetic breaches. She did every kind of breach you can imagine. She did breaches on her side, jumped on the water and landed on her back, did belly flops, a lot of spy hopping, looking around. It looked for all the world like she was absolutely thrilled to be home,” said Huff.
Huff said Springer spent the night hunting the live salmon that had been released into the pen.
Dr Lance Barrett-Lennard, Vancouver Aquarium marine mammal research scientist, said at about 1:30 a.m. scientists got a call from Orca lab indicating that a pod, including Springer’s immediate family, was traveling up the passage in the direction of the bay that Springer’s held in.
Barrett-Lennard said at about the time the call came in Springer became very excited and began to breach and call very loudly.




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