10 years later, Springer the killer whale still defies the odds
Source: Times Colonist/Judith Lavoie
Springer was an underweight, sickly killer whale calf when she turned up alone in Puget Sound a decade ago and it seemed the chances of successfully reuniting her with her pod on northern Vancouver Island were slim.
But, this month, celebrations are being held in Seattle and Vancouver, with a reunion at Telegraph Cove in July, marking the 10th anniversary of Springer's unique rescue, which saw the orphaned whale brought back to health, transported to northern Vancouver Island and released as members of her pod swam through Johnstone Strait.
Springer, now 12 years old, returns to the area each year and some of the rescuers hope she will soon turn up with her own calf. "It's a little on the early side, but who knows," said Lance Barrett-Lennard, Vancouver Aquarium senior marine mammal scientist.
Until recently, Springer remained shorter than other killer whales her age, probably because she was deprived of mother's milk for about eight months, but she has caught up, Barrett-Lennard said.
Paul Spong of OrcaLab, a research station on Hanson Island, 20 kilometres west of Port McNeill, is often among the first to spot Springer's annual return.
"She was looking really great last year. I wouldn't be surprised if one of these days she turns up with a little one beside her," he said.