The first killer whale to be rescued, rehabilitated and successfully reunited with her pod has reappeared with her healthy young calf.
The orca, dubbed “Springer,” was found orphaned and emaciated in Puget Sound off the coast of Washington in January 2002. Believing that she would not be able to survive on her own, Springer was captured and eventually transported to a marine rehabilitation facility. There, she was able to build up her strength until she was ready to be released into Canadian waters where she would reconnect with her lost pod.
Researchers recently spotted Springer in the Inside Passage off of British Columbia’s North Coast, and according to Lance Barrett-Lennard from Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Research Program, the orca and her calf, “…appear to be healthy and robust … normal in every way.”
This sighting is great news for everyone interested in the welfare of killer whales off the west coast of North America—and will be particularly gratifying to those who were involved in the many aspects of Springer’s identification, assessment, rescue, rehabilitation, transportation and release 12 years ago.
Springer and her calf were first spotted in July 2013, and according to marine biologists, this most recent sighting is incredibly reassuring, as the young whale has now survived the most dangerous period of its early life.
While Springer is believed to be the first-ever orca to be successfully rescued, rehabilitated and reintegrated into her pod, we can only hope that her triumphant story will inspire the rehabilitation and release of all captive whales.
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