In the summer of 2002 an orphaned orca whale, Springer (A73), was successfully reunited with her pod after she was separated from them several months earlier. This was the first time that scientists tried to help an orca and, so far, it has proved to be very successful. It is believed that Luna's story will have the same success if he is reunited with his pod.
Read on for Springer's Story
July 2000 - Is first spotted with her mother
Summer 2001 - Spends time in Johnstone Strait with her mother and members of A35 group; later seen traveling with female from one of the G pods but does not return to Johnstone strait with the rest of her pod
|Courtesy of Orca Conservancy|
January 2002 - Young whale spotted swimming alone between West Seattle and Vashon Island; friendly behaviour concerns local environmental groups
|A crane hoists the 1,348-pound orca whale in a sling onto a waiting catamaran ferry as crew and veterinarians Pete Schroeder, far left in yellow, and David Huff, second left, watch in Manchester. The whale will make the 400-mile trip to her native Canadian waters in 10-12 hours. (July 13, 2002) Photo Credit: Associated Press|
|Veterinarian Pete Schroeder, left, watches the orca, Springer, spyhop after she's released into her new temporary pen near her native waters at Dong Chong Bay near Telegraph Cove, B.C. (July 13, 2002) Photo Credit: Associated Press|
|Springer, far left,, approaches a member of the A-35 pod, right, after being released. The killer whales vocalized with each other. (July 14, 2002) Photo Credit: Vancouver Aquarium, Sandra Stone/Associated Press|
March 2002 - Scientists and whale advocates express concern over declining health of solo calf; young female is identified as Springer (A73); marine biologists debate over possible action; whale protection groups propose ferrying her back to her pod; orca experts/veterinarians begin tracking her health
April 2002 - Federal government outlines plan to move Springer to the waters off Vancouver Island
May 2002 - Experts fear for Springer's health and propose that she be captured long enough to take a blood sample; federal officials announce decision to capture and move Springer
June 2002 - Government hires experienced private contractor to head the capture team; Springer begins rubbing up to pleasure boats
June 11, 2002 - Researchers conduct successful test run by coaxing Springer into a portable net pen
June 13, 2002 - Springer approaches the capture boats uncoaxed, is guided by crew members into a sling and then hoisted onto a barge; rests on thick foam pads and is cooled by ice; barge transports her to a net pen on Kitsap Island
June 14-30, 2002 - Springer undergoes veterinary care/medical tests
July 2002 - Medical test results sent to Canadian officials; she is found to have no communicable diseases; skin condition and internal dietary-related condition clear up; Springer's pod (A4) are spotted near Hanson Island;
July 12, 2002 - Aborted attempt to move Springer; high speed boat develops engine problems
|A73 (Springer) in Johnstone Strait on August 28, 2002. Photo by Joseph Alicea, Oak Harbor.|
July 13/14, 2002 - Springer is transported to Hanson Island; shows interest in passing whales and calls to them; group of 8 whales approaches Springer's pen; scientists confer and release her; she immediately swims out out of the pen, swims off with her pod; she is soon distracted by a boat;
Late July/August 2002 - Springer is spotted with fellow pod members at the north end of Vancouver Island; seen swimming with an Aunt, who was observed preventing her from approaching researcher's boats.
|Springer returned to the Johnstone Strait area in July 2003.|
Fall 2002 - Springer is spotted several times with other whales in her pod
July 2003 - Springer returns to Johnstone Strait with her pod; Springer looks healthy and appears to have kicked the unsafe habit of hanging around boats.
Summer 2003 - Springer spotted many times with her pod. She appears to be a productive whale in her orca community. She has a wonderful personality.
Summer 2004 - Springer returned with her pod and appears healthy and active. Many scientists are now reporting that her reunification was a success, giving hope that a possible reunification for Luna will succeed too.
Summer 2005 and fall 2005 - Springer is fully reunited with her pod. She was seen with them on several occasions and appears to be a normal whale.
Thanks to Orca Conservancy (www.orcaconservancy.org) for providing information for this article.